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April 2021

 

A Biomarker & The Change Of Seasons

 

Spring is here! At JBRF we joke that we’re one of the few places where talking about the weather isn’t just small talk! In fact, keeping on top of the temperature outside is essential for managing the symptoms of Fear of Harm. We pay particularly close attention to the changes of season and the temperature fluctuations they bring.

Temperature Dysregulation in Action

We talk a lot about how the discovery of a biomarker for Fear of Harm changes how we understand and treat Fear of Harm. But what does that mean in practice? Well, it has a lot to do with Fear of Harm’s specific biological marker: temperature dysregulation. Disruptions in the brain’s ability to regulate body temperature and built up heat in the body’s core result in overheating, the triggering of the fight-or-flight instinct, and sleep disruptions. All of these lead to mood instability and problematic behaviors that are beyond the child’s control.

An essential part of treatment becomes addressing body temperature and helping kids stay cool. This means monitoring to not only their body temperature, but also to the temperature outside in the environment. Large shifts in temperature throughout the year, as well as large shifts in temperature during the course of each day, can cause major disruptions in mood and behavior management.

Seasonal Changes Can Spark Trouble

Some of the most difficult times of the year for those with Fear of Harm are during the changes in seasons. While all seasonal changes have an impact, we see the most striking ones during the slow shifts from winter to spring and from fall to winter. During these times, in most climates, the range of the diurnal temperature (i.e. changes in temperature throughout a single day) can be significant. For example, in many parts of the United States, it’s not uncommon for days throughout March, April, and May to have temperature highs and lows as different as 30 or 40 degrees apart! This means that when kids are going to and from school they could be dealing with an outdoor temperature of 35 degrees in the morning with it skyrocketing to 75 degrees in the late afternoon! This wreaks havoc on their already challenged thermoregulatory systems, building up heat that doesn’t get released, and plaguing them with mood and behavior problems.

Cooling Strategies to the Rescue

Finding ways to help the body release that built up heat, in conjunction with the right medications, is crucial to maintain stability. Some of the techniques recommended include:

  • Submerging in a tepid pool or bath: an indoor swimming pool is about 78-82 degrees and the perfect temperature for cooling down the core of the body and releasing heat, without making you cold. Using this same temperature range for at home baths and showers works too.
  • Reducing clothing and blankets: parents want to keep their kids warm, but they have to remember that with Fear of Harm getting rid of built up heat is so important. So don’t make them wear that jacket, sleep under that blanket, or put on a sweater.
  • Leaving hands, feet, head, and ears uncovered: the same is true for the parts of the body that we know lose heat fast. Don’t wear that hat, those mittens, or socks and shoes. Let that heat out!
  • Adding fans and air circulation: air blowing over the skin helps move the heat away from the body and promotes heat dissipation.
  • Using cooling cloths or strips: just like air circulation, cooling strips and towels and clothing that wick away moisture and pull heat from the core can help keep body temperature stable.
  • Drinking ice cold beverages: folks with Fear of Harm and bipolar need to stay hydrated to make sure their body can process their medications correctly, and they also need to drink cold liquids to help keep their core cool. With this strategy we accomplish both at once, and with icy drinks, popsicles, smoothies, and even the occasional milkshake cooling strategies can be fun and tasty. 

To learn more about these and other strategies for managing Fear of Harm symptoms check out our new video: First Aid for Fear of Harm or our recommended products.

Check out our featured product this month, recommended by Sean. He tells the FOH community how this fan helps him with his cooling plan:

“If I wear it all day it almost completely negates the need for ice packs. It consistently puts cold air up the sides of your neck, jawline, and ears, which are some of the most important parts for cooling. It has an 8 hour battery life and is rechargeable. It is really just the easiest thing ever.”

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