Katie Arfa is a health psychologist and NSCA certified personal trainer who specializes in the overlap between brain functioning, mood, stress, illness, exercise, and nutrition. She earned a BA in psychology at UCLA and a Master’s at Antioch University before going on to complete her training with a doctorate from the California School of Professional Psychology, where she specialized in Health. She is currently a psychology intern treating weight management, primary care, and lifespan health populations. Her work includes treatment, research, consultation, writing, and speaking in the community and she is passionate about developing public health programs that aid integration of health services.
Butterflies in your stomach. A gut-wrenching feeling. Your stomach suddenly drops… You’d better go with your gut.
I don’t know about you, but all of these phrases packed together gives me a general sense of unease, and for good reason. For most people, these sayings have become synonymous with the kind of scary, traumatic, or anxiety-provoking situations that simply make your stomach churn (pun intended).
On the other hand, for the positive psychology folks, we could also be talking about a remarkably exhilarating experience — falling in love, skydiving, riding a rollercoaster. There are endless scenarios that have elicited this reaction in our lives. But what do they all have in common?
The human body is a miraculous thing. The mind-body connection is so endlessly complex that there are many things we still don’t understand, even with the use of technology. As psychologists, we probably appreciate this natural wonder more than other folks, especially since we are constantly trying to decode the mysterious ways the brain works.
Unfortunately, all of the things we have worked hard to understand about the brain can become muddled in the face of illness, when the symptoms we are so familiar with take on a different meaning…well, sort of.
Think about this: does depression feel the same whether it’s caused by a traumatic life event or a hormonal imbalance? Based on the common presentation of symptoms across patients and life circumstances, many would argue yes.