Vegetative-Vascular Dystonia (vegetoneurosis, syndrome of vegetative or neurocirculatory dystonia) is a group of symptoms related to dysfunction of the human autonomic nervous system.
Neurocirculatory dystonia is a disorder of neuroendocrine regulation of the cardiovascular system function.
The autonomic nervous system is a part of the human central nervous system that regulates the functioning of internal organs and maintains the constancy of the human body’s internal environment (temperature, blood pressure, breathing rate, metabolism rate, etc.). It is also designed to tune the respective systems of the body to adapt to the external environment. Thus, the autonomic nervous system controls all processes occurring in the human body.
At the same time, it is through the autonomic nervous system that the interaction of the psyche and the human body occurs. It is through it that the psyche sends signals to the body. For example, if a person’s psyche assesses a situation as tense, the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system signals the body to mobilize (muscles tense, heart beats faster, etc.). If the situation is perceived by the psyche as calm, the parasympathetic division signals to relax.
The term ‘dystonia’ itself means a disturbance in the balance of the tone of the above-mentioned sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions of the nervous system. It has been found that one in five people suffers from vegetative-vascular dystonia, with women suffering almost three times more often.
However, it should be noted that medicine does not classify VVD as a disease, as autonomic reactions of the body are natural (and actually necessary) components of a person’s emotional response.
In themselves, they are not scary or dangerous, as they simply accompany strong emotions of a person (fear, panic, etc.) and pass when the emotion subsides.
However, these autonomic reactions often become constant companions of a person, arising in similar life situations and transitioning into the category of stable (chronic).
Then the stable symptoms of VVD appear. The danger of VVD lies in the fact that the progression of disorders in the autonomic nervous system can lead to various deviations (cardioneurosis, angioneurosis, etc.), and serious diseases.
Three types of VVD are distinguished: cardiac, hypertensive, and hypotensive.
- The first type is characterized by heart pain, heart palpitations with interruptions, episodes of tachycardia, shortness of breath.
- The second type manifests through frequent headaches, rises in blood pressure, dizziness.
- The third type is characterized by a sleepy and lethargic state, weakness, increased fatigue, darkening in the eyes with sudden movements, fainting with a drop in blood pressure, chilliness in the hands and feet.
Symptoms of vegetative-vascular dystonia include:
- increased sweating,
- rapid fatigue,
- sleep disturbances,
- shortness of breath,
- changes in heart rhythm,
- nausea, vomiting,
- abdominal pain,
- heartburn, burping,
- diarrhea, constipation, etc.
As the main causes of VVD, specialists identify panic thoughts of a person that affect the formation of excitation foci in the brain, as well as prolonged exposure of a person to a state of stress.
Also, accompanying factors leading to VVD should be considered: allergic predisposition, gastrointestinal diseases, thyroid diseases and central nervous system diseases, chronic infections, harmful habits, hormonal changes, genetic predisposition, irrational nutrition, disruption of rest regime, stress disorders, etc.
VVD in Children
In children, VVD manifests itself through headaches, dizziness, increased body temperature, hypotonia, abdominal pain, nighttime urinary incontinence, pale skin, sleepiness, rapid fatigue, tearfulness, etc.
It has been identified that the most dangerous syndrome is considered to be the neurotic manifestation of VVD: children quickly get tired, complain of dizziness and headaches, their sleep is disturbed, they lack mood, they have poor memory, they are anxious and suspicious, sometimes they have hysterics or depression.
Causes of VVD in children are:
- hereditary predisposition (on the mother’s side),
- complications during pregnancy and childbirth, etc.
Predisposing factors include conflict situations at school or home, increased workload at school, hyper-care from parents, psychological neglect, stress, as well as infectious, somatic, and endocrine diseases, allergies, anemia, etc.
Unfavorable environmental conditions, weather conditions, excessive loads, improper nutrition, lack of sleep, disruption of daily routine, hormonal changes in adolescence, etc., affect the occurrence of VVD in children.
The Connection of VVD and Psychosomatics
It should be noted that a person’s psyche can perceive as tense not only an external situation (event) but also the internal experiences of the person themselves. This means that regardless of where the cause of the tension is located: in the external world or in the internal world of the person – the body’s reaction will be the same: on the signal of the autonomic nervous system, it will transition into a state of mobilization.
As soon as the situation normalizes, the psyche will signal the body to relax. Now the question arises: And if a person lives in tension for a long time (in negative emotions, anxiety, fear, stress), then what happens to his autonomic nervous system and body?
All this time, the autonomic nervous system will signal the body about the need for a mobilization state.
Given such a situation, another question arises: Can the body stay in this mobilized state for so long, that is, for days, weeks, months, even years, keeping all organs in a state of tension without harm to its health?
Any normal person will answer that this is impossible. It’s impossible without harm. That’s when our body starts signaling about the consequences of experienced nervous tensions in the form of VVD symptoms. Let’s consider these reasons for the occurrence of VVD on a nervous basis.
Psychological Causes of VVD
Attachment: a person identifies themselves with external objects (status, title, material value). Hence, if they lose this significant object, they start to experience strong emotions.
Internal conflict ‘want but can’t.’ A person lacks opportunities to fulfill their desires, leading to negative experiences.
Negative experience of circumstances forcing to live not as desired (relocation, life after surgery, etc.).
A certain personality type. Often affected are people who cannot control their ambitions, as well as impressionable people, anxious personalities, and emotionally dependent people. VVD more often occurs in unbalanced, overly responsible, pedantic, resentful, and self-doubting people. Such personality types can drive themselves to panic attacks and phobias (e.g., cardiophobia – fear of death from heart disease).
Most psychologists (Louise Hay, Liz Bourbeau, etc.) assert that VVD has one main psychological cause – suppression of feelings and emotions, as well as the insincerity and lies resulting from such suppression.
Some believe (based on the book by D. Walsh) that the suppression in childhood of five basic natural feelings leads to many psychosomatic ailments in the future.
These basic feelings are sadness, anger, envy, fear, and love. When a child in childhood can express these natural feelings, they grow up to be a calm, self-sufficient, balanced person.
But if in childhood parents forbid expressing these feelings (‘don’t cry,’ ‘don’t scream,’ etc.), then suppressed natural feelings turn into unnatural reactions and reflexes, which become the causes of problems later in life. Thus, love turns into a passion for possession, anger into malice, fear into anxiety, envy into jealousy, and sadness into chronic depression.
Paths to Healing
Certainly, the main and leading treatment for VVD is psychotherapy. It is supplemented with massage, reflexotherapy, therapeutic exercise, electrosleep, physiotherapy, climatotherapy (sanatorium-resort treatment), etc.
If VVD is mild, a person, with a reasonable approach, can heal themselves independently.
For this, self-work, willpower, and most importantly, courage are necessary. Courage is needed to dare to stop the habitual reaction (in the form of VVD symptoms) to life difficulties and tensions.
In this matter, understanding the reason for such a reaction will help us.
We already know that the cause is an imbalance in the autonomic nervous system, which occurred as a result of stress.
And what is at the base of your stress: fear, apprehension, anxiety, worry, and other negative emotions.
Hence, it is necessary to remove these emotions, replacing them with positive ones. To remove negative emotions, it is necessary to find the thoughts that caused them (‘I won’t be able to do something,’ ‘what if it doesn’t work out,’ ‘what if something happens,’ etc., escalating thoughts).
Here it is important to realize that your escalating thoughts bring no benefit (they do not help improve the situation), only harm (further escalating an already tense situation).
The main thing on the path to healing is only not to be afraid that you will again have a bodily reaction to a stressful situation. Because fear, on the contrary, reinforces the body’s habit of reacting to certain situations with vegetative symptoms.
Therefore, with your willpower, change the harmful habit of reacting this way to another, positive one. Or you can negotiate with your ‘self’ and body about how it’s better and wiser to react.
This is easy to do if you motivate yourself (praise or reward yourself with something pleasant after each successful case).
At the same time, find yourself helpers: relaxing music, verbal affirmations, meditation, nature, breathing exercises, etc.
Wishing you patience and love!