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The Adverse Effects of Emergency Alerts on Mental and Physical Health: Expert Insights and Solutions

Correspondent Shim-gyo Jeong of Money Today | 2023.05.31 18:00

Between 6:30 and 7:00 am on the 31st, the citizens of Seoul went through great chaos. There are not a few people who were shocked while sleeping or on their way to work due to a series of ‘warning issuance’ notifications that they had never experienced before, followed by ‘incorrect notification’ notifications. However, experts pointed out that such notifications could threaten not only mental health, but also the health of people with underlying brain and heart diseases. The problem is that you never know when this situation will happen again. Professors of the Department of Neurology and Mental Health Medicine investigated the adverse effects of alerts and misalliance on health and how to deal with them.

The thought system ‘shut down’ in fear of the outbreak of war

Just looking at notification texts and breaking news like today, we have no choice but to recognize the possibility of a war that could break out. When you suddenly know this situation, the ‘sympathetic nerve’ is rapidly activated in the body. Professor Kim Hee-jin of the Department of Neurology at Hanyang University Hospital explained, “When faced with an extreme emergency, the sympathetic nerve activates by calling the parasympathetic nerve, and our body responds to run away or confront a dangerous situation.” In medical terms, this is called the ‘fight or flight response’ or ‘acute stress response’, meaning a response to fight or run away. When the sympathetic nerve is activated, the pupils dilate, sweat is produced, the heart beats, and the muscles throughout the body tense. It is an instinct to escape quickly. Professor Kim said, “Breathing becomes rapid, and this is an instinct to run away faster by supplying more oxygen into the body.” Not only that, but the nerves become sensitive. When the sympathetic nervous system increases, a lot of cortisol, a stress hormone, is secreted. Cortisol causes psychological anxiety, fear, and fear. Concerns about war also fall into this category. Professor Kim said, “At this time, a ‘shutdown’ appears in which the frontal lobe, which was in charge of the normal thinking system, stops functioning,” and “then, the limbic system in charge of emotions is activated.”

The limbic system is not normally active, but when the stress index rises, its function becomes active, creating anxious feelings. Professor Kim warned, “A sudden and embarrassing situation like today can greatly increase the activity of the limbic system and put you in a more emotionally dangerous situation.”

misplaced order… When you get angry, your prefrontal cortex function declines.

In this extremely tense state, when you hear the notification of a misplacement, your brain feels “lucky” as the first step, but feels “anger” as the second step. Professor Kim said, “Even after confirming the false notification, there must have been many people who were relieved and said, ‘What is this from morning?’ The function of the prefrontal cortex, the front of the head, is greatly reduced.”

The frontal lobes, including the prefrontal cortex, are in charge of attention, memory, strategic judgment, and abstract thinking. If the anger index soared due to mispronunciation, the prefrontal cortex activity stops and the limbic system is activated. It is said that this can lead to poor grades for those who take the exam on the day. Professor Kim said, “If the function of the frontal lobe decreases, a test taker may only get 90 points out of the ability to get 100 points.”

According to the explanation, when the usual emotions are stable, the function of the limbic system stops, and the prefrontal cortex is activated to systematically perform the given task. However, if you suddenly panic, the limbic system is activated and you easily lose your ability to judge. It is the principle that a person who is afraid of bugs suddenly stiffens and stops moving when faced with an insect.

What if the alert was normally lifted due to the end of the situation, not a misplacement? Professor Kim said, “In this case, the stress decreases and a sense of stability is restored. At this time, the body shuts down the limbic system and activates the parasympathetic nerve as the frontal lobe is activated little by little. As a result, the enlarged pupils become smaller, the pulse and blood pressure decrease, and sweat decreases. It cools down and your decision-making skills are restored so you can decide what to do next.”

Brain/cardiovascular/hypertensive patients, deep breathing/kneading method is good

A day like today could happen again. In this case, there is a separate group of patients who need to pay special attention to their health. First, I am a cardiovascular patient. At the time of the primary diagnosis of cardiovascular disease, hospitals conduct a test to deliberately narrow the cardiovascular system to check whether the patient has unstable angina. Professor Kim warned, “Those who have excessively narrowed blood vessels due to some cause are at risk because they can be narrowed even with psychological causes like today.”

The second is hypertensive patients. When blood vessels lose elasticity, blood pressure rises. Hypertensive patients usually lower their blood pressure with medication, but it can rise dramatically when they are stressed due to psychological circumstances. These patients usually have a stable period of blood pressure by calming it down to some extent with medicine, but for psychological reasons, blood pressure can rise sharply.

The third is a heart failure patient with an enlarged heart. Patients with heart failure stabilize blood pressure and pulse with diuretics and blood pressure medications. Professor Kim said, “Heart failure is a disease in which the heart grows just like the rubber band of a stretched panty. The heart needs to pump blood well, but if this function is impaired, it cannot pump blood properly, causing secondary problems in the brain.” If the nerves are suddenly activated, the blood pressure rises rapidly and the heart may fill with water.”

The fourth is a brain disease patient. Sudden activation of the sympathetic nerve in the brain of patients with cerebrovascular disease or stroke increases the risk of stroke, cerebrovascular disease, or cerebral hemorrhage. The same goes for dementia patients. Dementia patients tend to get worse when they are in a noisy place after being stable, and if this situation persists, cognitive function may deteriorate further.

Then, what is the way to remain calm if a similar alert is issued in the future? The medically most convenient method is ‘deep breathing’. Sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves are present not only in the brain but also in the spine. The sympathetic nerve is located right next to the spine, and the parasympathetic nerve is further away. These nerves are also present in the heart and lungs. When you breathe deeply, the diaphragm and lung capacity increase, and the parasympathetic nerve is stimulated and activated. When a lot of oxygen comes in through deep breathing and breathing slows down, the brain recognizes that “there is no emergency” and the body escapes the threat. Professor Kim advised, “Deep breathing is a good way to balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves.”

It is common for people around you to rub the shoulder of an angry person. Kneading the limbs can relax the muscles and reduce the sympathetic nerve excitability. Professor Kim added, “If a situation like this happens next time, family members can massage each other to ease tension.”

Experts advise that the government’s response is also important. It is necessary to specify in detail how to deal with it. The first time you pass a dark road, you feel fear, but this principle is less frightening to those who are familiar with this road. Professor Jo Seo-eun of the Department of Psychiatry at Gachon University Gil Hospital said, “Today’s alert notification and false alarm notification would have come as a great stress to the people who have not been able to find their way.” You can reduce unnecessary fear by sending specific notification texts.”

According to Professor Cho, if the amygdala is excessively aroused due to alerts, etc., the brain continues to feel that it is ‘dangerous’, and the function of the prefrontal cortex deteriorates and the balance of this place is broken, and cognitive function is not well controlled. In this case, the ‘warning device’ continues to operate unnecessarily in the brain, and it can show a sense of fear or avoidance.

Professor Cho said, “With the information obtained from the government, in this case, we must provide specific information that the public will be safer if we do this.” Advised. For example, sending additional step-by-step information instead of text messages telling people to avoid simply because it is dangerous after a warning is issued, or sending specific information such as “Apartment residents should evacuate to the underground parking lot”, “Now this is the case, so it would be better to do this” by region It is an expression that sends different rules of conduct according to the degree of risk.

[저작권자 @머니투데이, 무단전재 및 재배포 금지]

2023-05-31 09:00:55

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