On Interoception: How Connecting to Your Internal State Can Reduce Anxiety and Depression
If you struggle with anxiety and depression, it can be a debilitating experience. It can disrupt your days, cause you to miss out on important events and social gatherings, and it’s not easily solved by prescriptions and therapy.
Understanding your internal state will help you rewire your brain to escape these cycles of anxiety and depression. Here’s how the principles of interoception can help you further comprehend your responses and change your experience with anxiety and depression.
The Mind-Body Connection
The first step to overcoming anxiety or depression is acknowledging the mind-body connection. Recognizing that your mind and body are connected will help you see the value in neuroplasticity and how this could benefit you. For example, how do you respond when you are in the presence of something that triggers you? Are you able to influence your mental / physical responses?
When you look deeper at the root of anxiety and depression, you begin to have more sympathy for yourself. Your ability to perceive your internal state is commonly referred to as interoception, which is what allows us to feel what is happening inside our bodies. This is significant because it can show you the root of your mental, emotional and behavioral patterns, which determine how you respond to the world around you.
Finding Cause for Your Responses
First, it’s important to understand that some degree of anxiety or arousal of the stress response is perfectly normal and may be in alignment with your real world events and circumstances. However, there are some forms of stress that are beyond normal levels. If you do some introspection, you can understand and even learn to regulate your internal levels of stress or anxiety. The more you practice this, the more control you will have over your internal state and subconscious behaviors.
For example, let’s say you have agoraphobia. You know that every time you go out into public, you will be facing the same fears. Depending on the intensity of your anxiety, you can take a minute, take some deep breaths, and realize some specifics about your situation. You might suffer when you are around a dozen people or only be affected if you are in front of one hundred. With interoception, you can discover how your anxiety or depression is just an altered internal state and then learn to work through it, which eventually changes it.
Self-Awareness is the Key to Resolution
We all have our struggles, but we can learn to confront them and become stronger as individuals. If you recognize what specific situations might trigger your reactions, you can begin to lessen their occurrence.
When you take a minute and recognize how you are responding, you might see that you can take a step back and stop the cycle from repeating. Through proper neuroplasticity training, you can become more in tune with your internal state. Over time, as you recognize your patterns and how they affect you, paying attention to your internal state can really help resolve or alleviate anxiety or depression that may have felt crippling in the past.
Making Interoception a Habit
Like most things that can help us change, they work best when done consistently as opposed to whenever we happen to remember. Making interoception a habitual practice is the surest way to reap the best benefits and experience enduring change.
To this end, re-origin has created a science-based neuroplasticity program of which interoception is a prominent built-in feature. The program itself was created taking into account the latest research into habit design, and with the help of top neuroscientists and cognitive behavioral therapists. At re-origin, we recognize that it isn’t just about the information in a program, but the accessibility and usability. That’s why we’ve made it easy for all participants to follow a simple 5 step process, involving interoception, specifically made to break out of vicious cycles of anxiety, depression or chronic self-perpetuating inflammatory cycles.
For the Future
You don’t have to live with your depression or anxiety, and the same cycles you experience do not always have to be your reality. When you learn to become more aware of your internal state, you may be surprised at how rapidly things begin to change. Click here to learn about our evidence-based neuroplasticity program and supporting community.
- Paulus, M. P., & Stein, M. B. (2010). Interoception in anxiety and depression. Brain structure & function, 214(5-6), 451–463. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2886901/