“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” This famous statement came from U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression. Many at that time could not afford the basics of life and they feared what the future would bring. FDR wanted to calm their fears, but in making this statement he hit on a greater truth: fear of the future can present more danger than the future actually holds. Fear of the future is also known as “worry.” When we worry, we put ourselves in a chronic stress situation which erodes our health, regardless of whatever else the future has in store.
When bad things may be on the horizon, we tend to worry. If bad things actually happen, we have an opportunity to learn from them. When a large scale event happens over much of the world, the best thing we can do is examine what happened and learn from it, so if something similar happens again, we may handle it better. Such an event was the COVID-19 pandemic.
When COVID first appeared, it was a shock. A virus which was almost unstoppable was sweeping across the world, and while the death rate turned out to have been lower than that of heart disease and cancer, it was almost the sole focus of news media for months after it broke out. Very rapidly, life changed: first business and non-essential activities were completely shut down, we were required to wear masks in public, hospitals were overloaded, and people started shunning contact with others. Fear was running rampant, and the emergency actions and media 24×7 hyper coverage was reinforcing the fear.
Nothing was spared when it came to COVID. As a society, we didn’t consider the negative ramifications of the actions we were taking. The world response more closely represented a stampede, where those in the way got trampled, than it did an orderly set of precautions. Consequences of actions taken were barely considered, if at all, because of overriding fear.
Now much of that is behind us, and we can look back at history to learn from it. The consequences of our rush to suppress COVID are showing up. Some kids are having speech problems because they could not see mouths forming words as they were learning speech. Some workers lost their livelihood because of vaccine mandates, and the vaccines were rushed through development without the usual time to see the potential negative effects of the new technology or even the effects on future generations. The greater social isolation caused cases of depression to spike. But the greatest impact was the effect of fear itself.
The fear cycle
Short periods of fear do not leave lasting effects on the brain and body. When fear becomes chronic, the mechanisms meant for a short burst of energy, hyper-attention or alertness, and shunting of normal metabolism into dealing with an emergency — these start eroding health. Living in fear is not sustainable, and the body’s protective responses reinforce the fear reactions. Eventually this becomes a vicious cycle, measurable by chronically high levels of inflammation.
Fear starts in the mind, and the brain is the physical servant of the mind. As fear takes hold, various proteins build up which promote inflammation throughout the body. Some of the inflammation is in the brain itself, and the brain is weighed down by the inflammation, causing accompanying poor function, brain fog, inability to concentrate, and outright psychological distress. This can cause more fear, reinforcing the cycle.
Published in Translational Psychiatry, researchers at the University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada combed through 3647 unique articles and studies to verify the pro-inflammatory responses to mental trauma. They identified 4 different biomarker proteins and cytokines: CRP (C-reactive protein), (interleukin) IL-1?, (interleukin) IL-6, and TNF (tumor necrosis factor)-? which are over-produced with fear and trauma. CRP increases the permeability of the blood-brain barrier (BBB), and thus promotes brain inflammation — this was shown in a study published in Stroke (from the American Heart Association) where researchers in Rotterdam, the Netherlands studied 2814 participants, taking blood samples to measure their CRP levels and MRI scans to determine their brain inflammation biomarkers (microbleeds, enlarged spacing between blood vessels, and lesions) — they found that as CRP levels rose, the various biomarkers showed a significant to strong association to the higher levels, indicating CRP and inflammation were rising together. Cytokines are responsible for brain as well as bodily inflammation, as explained in an article published in Depression and Anxiety, and this leads to depression and mental dysfunction. Mental stress promotes these biomarkers, promoting inflammation, which then causes more mental stress. Ongoing fear has always been the most prevalent form of mental stress from the beginning, reinforced by the echo chamber of news and social media.
The pandemic — fear run amok
COVID-19 was the largest medical “study” ever conducted, with billions of participants around the world. We are still collecting data from this unintended study. Now that COVID-19 has progressed to the endemic stage, where it is prevalent worldwide but we are recognizing it as a part of life we have to live with, we are stepping back and reviewing the effects of the societal actions that were taken during the pandemic and seeing their impacts. Many disruptions to our way of life occurred during the pandemic, and the data is still coming in as to how these affected, and are still affecting, people even if they did not contract COVID-19 themselves.
Published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital used data from before the pandemic lockdown actions and after for participants without any evidence of ever contracting COVID-19 to determine the impact of those measures aside from the virus itself. They studied the levels of brain inflammation from two protein biomarkers to see how they changed once the harsh lockdown measures went into effect. Those who showed symptoms of mental/psychological stress — brain fog, fatigue, anxiety, and depression — also showed significantly elevated levels of the biomarkers indicating brain inflammation. Further, there was some elevation of the IL-6 protein in their blood samples. Clearly, their reactions to the regulations and social isolation were translating into inflammation, and brain inflammation in particular. And we know that prolonged periods of inflammation breeds disease, sometimes showing up years later.
Published in Frontiers in Psychology only six months after the lockdowns, researchers at the Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands were compiling ripple effects of the isolation practices that were implemented worldwide. They cited disease and death from postponed medical treatments, food shortages, physical and mental health problems, and immune system compromises. They found that some of the measures invoked did little to halt the spread of COVID-19, yet they did overall harm to large portions of society. They cited evidence that at least 100 million worldwide died from lack of food. Other controversial studies have since been published showing poor effectiveness of the vaccine that many were forced to take, casting doubt on the effectiveness of all masks except the hospital grade masks in preventing virus transmission, and showing that natural immunity was a more effective anti-COVID than the vaccines. Those studies were often banned from being mentioned or linked on social media, and news media “fact checkers” told us that they were universally wrong, if they were mentioned at all.
What you can control
With the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen firsthand what widespread fear can do to societies, even “free” societies. There’s not much you can do about how society in general reacts, but there is much you can do about your own reaction. Fear is only your friend when it causes you to take proper action to avoid a threat. Beyond that, fear is your enemy, and the long-term version of fear — worry — is downright disastrous for your health. Worry and fear focus on the future, but your body lives in the present. It reacts to the good or bad that comes from the environment you are currently presenting to it.
Some are now doubting whether the COVID-19 actions that we took were worth it. Certainly they were less effective than hoped, but when fear rules the day, disappointment and regrets are likely to be the results. Do you fear cancer, chronic disease, pandemics, or simply old age? Turn the fear into appropriate action. Then take joy knowing that you are doing what you can to give yourself a healthy future, and relax! Life isn’t meant to be simply survived. Life is meant to be lived fully. Do your part to make that your story.
Dr. Nemec’s Review
The most damaging emotion there is to your cells is long-term or chronic fear. Fear is only meant to sense a danger and then move into action quickly to get out of that danger. Physiologically one hour is maximum time designed in a fear response. After that all systems will get exhausted: the immune system will get suppressed, brain function goes awry and digestion is greatly reduced at the cellular level.
The publication from Brain, Behavior, and Immunity was a very powerful study because it’s simply stated healthy people without ever contracting the virus still had inflammation in their brain and body just because of the fear. Inflammation is the root of disease so we must choose what we listen to, what we read, what we watch, and our own words and actions wisely.
The beautiful sign of any adversity in life is that it helps us grow in a new direction that we never saw before. So we can always say what was done wrong but let us learn from our mistakes so it does not happen again. Let’s say for example a person is diagnosed with stage IV metastatic cancer when they’ve been feeling fine, enjoying their life. This is a tremendous shock to the system, but remember your system can take the shock as long as it’s not long term. So a person who gets the diagnosis goes into a tremendous fear response, but this is the key pivot point: they make a decision on what direction they will go to solve this problem, and they go forward not looking to the past, not looking to the future, just taking it one day one moment at a time. Now if this person decides to dwell on the thought that they could die then this will produce a continual fear response which can end up being a self fulfilling prophecy. Whatever comes in your life you don’t always have a say so about how and why it came but what you do have is a choice of what direction you go from that point on.
We have had so many patients over the last 40 years come in for treatment for their major health challenges filled with fear filled with doubt, but once they underwent our treatment and teaching program they transformed the fear and replaced it with an excitement about their new life, being more balanced, focused and thankful about life. This made the final state of their being far better than before their health challenge had come. What the world and the mind meant for evil, God turned it around so that it could be a blessing not only in your life but to all those around you, especially your family.
Here are the ways we can help you in your health journey:
- Outpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-has the most benefit of teaching, treatment, live classes and personalized coaching. This program has the most contact with Dr. Nemec with 3- 6 month programs that can be turned into a regular checking and support program for life. This is our core program that has helped so many restore their health and maintain that restoration for years.
- Inpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-is our four-week intensive inpatient program for those that are not in driving distance, usually over 4 hour drive. This is the program that is an intensive jumpstart with treatment, teaching, live classes and coaching designed for all our international patients along with those in the US that do not live in Illinois. This program is very effective especially when combined with our new membership program support.
- Stay at Home Program-is offered to continental US patients who cannot come to Total Health Institute but still want a more personal, customized plan to restore their health. This program also includes our Learn Membership Program.
- Membership Program is our newest program offered for those that want to work on their health at a high level and want access to the teaching at Total Health Institute along with the Forums: both Dr. Nemec’s posts and other members posting. And also, to have the chance to get personalized questions answered on the conference calls which are all archived in case you miss the call. The Membership Program has 3 levels to choose from: Learn, Overcome and Master. The difference is at the Overcome and Master levels you received one on one calls with Dr. Nemec personalizing your program for your areas of focus.