Have you ever wondered why a colicky infant can’t calm down and be soothed? Why it is so hard to redirect a wound-up toddler or young child in the middle of a meltdown? Or why a child with Autism, ADHD, and anxiety struggles for so long to calm and regulate in certain situations? Or how about you, mom and dad – do you ever feel like your heart is constantly racing, your stress levels are maxed out 24/7, and you can’t fall asleep?
In this blog, we’ll be diving into the fascinating world of the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS), which activates the body’s “fight or flight” stress response and controls things like our adrenal glands, cortisol levels, inflammation, and so much more. If you feel like you or your child has a “gas pedal” and stress response that you can’t get turned off, this information is for you!
Flight or Flight – The Body’s Protective Response
The Sympathetic Nervous System is a crucial part of our body’s defense mechanism, commonly known as the “fight or flight” response. It’s a natural, adaptive reaction essential for our short-term survival and daily life. Imagine it as a biological alarm system designed to be activated when we face a potential threat or danger. When the threat is imminent, it prepares us to respond swiftly. However, what’s equally important is that it’s also meant to be turned “off” once the stressor or threat has passed.
The ability to switch gears between readiness and relaxation is a critical component of our bodies. It ensures that we don’t remain in a heightened state of alertness indefinitely, preventing unnecessary stress and strain on our nervous system. However, when this balance is disrupted, especially in the context of our children, it can lead to a range of challenges.
The Sympathetic Nervous System and Kids
Our children are supposed to spend the majority of their time in parasympathetic “growth and development” mode, not in a constant state of “fight or flight.” In this state, their bodies are free to grow, learn, and thrive. The parasympathetic mode is the ideal setting for healthy development.
However, when the Sympathetic Nervous System becomes persistently “stuck on,” it can have detrimental effects on children. This continuous activation of the fight or flight response often manifests first as colic, making it difficult for infants to settle and sleep. As children grow, the signs of a “stuck on SNS” become more evident, including constipation, frequent tantrums and meltdowns, behavioral issues, sensory challenges, and more.
Sympathetic “Stuck On” – Developmental Delays and Other Neurological Challenges
One of the most significant factors contributing to developmental delays and neurological disorders in children is the continuous activation of their sympathetic nervous system. This persistent stuck-on-the-gas pedal state can be likened to having a car with a jammed accelerator – it’s constantly revving in overdrive.
The results of this overactivity can be profound, exacerbating conditions like Autism, ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), and anxiety. When children’s nervous systems are unable to switch back to the calm and restorative parasympathetic mode, it places an extraordinary burden on their physical, emotional, and cognitive development.
In the world of Neurologically-Focused Chiropractic Care, we use the term subluxation to describe a situation where the body’s stress response gets stuck in the “on” position. It’s as if the alarm is ringing continuously, and the body remains in a perpetual state of readiness.
Dysautonomia, then, refers to the imbalance within the autonomic and central nervous system. It’s a condition where the body struggles to maintain equilibrium, often with an excessive sympathetic overdrive. This can lead to a wide range of physical and emotional health challenges, particularly in children who are still developing.
The connection between these factors is significant, and understanding them is crucial for addressing the root causes of various health challenges in children.
How to Find and Measure a Stuck On Sympathetic Nervous System
To identify and quantify the extent of a dysregulated nervous system, we utilize cutting-edge technology known as INSiGHT Scans. These scans not only pinpoint the presence of sympathetic overactivity but also provide a precise location of major subluxations that may be contributing to the issue.
By understanding the exact areas affected, a Neurologically-Focused Chiropractor can tailor a custom care plan to help the body regain its natural balance. This personalized approach is a game-changer for children and their families who have struggled with the consequences of a continuously activated Sympathetic Nervous System.
To learn more about the Sympathetic Nervous System and its impact on your child’s health, check out the full article on the PX Docs website. If you’d like to get yourself or your child scanned to determine if a stuck sympathetic nervous system is contributing to your current health challenges, check out the PX Docs directory to find an office near you.
Don’t let your child’s health be compromised by a persistently activated stress response; there is hope, and we’re here to help you find it. Let’s bring balance back to your family together!