The fundamental study of the effects of high altitude on a person’s body is called aerospace physiology. It includes different pressure and levels of oxygen. It explains the body’s particular function and reaction when there is a different level of altitudes. Usually, it provokes more cardiac output and produces significant erythrocytes. But how can psychologist seem to connect it to mental health? Here is how some experts see it.
The constant changes in the body from consistent oxygen deprivation cause energy waste. The damage promotes muscle tensions, fatigue, loss of motor skills, and even decreased proper coordination. However, all results still vary from different levels of altitude. That is because the affected physiques are different when in space and ground. That also explains why people exposed inside pressurized cabins experiences loss of muscle growth. Typically, with the exposure in a higher altitude along with a partial carbon dioxide pressure, the oxygen production decreases. The oxygen degradation is what people call hypoxia. Throughout higher altitude, the arterial saturation of oxygen decreases in as much as 70% on a rapid state. It may not sound so alarming for a lot of people, but it caters a hidden effect in the brain. But what exactly is happening in there?
Oxygen Deficiency And The Brain
The brain is the most vital part of the body that uses a large amount of oxygen. Although it only constitutes 2% of the body’s total weight, it consumes approximately 20% of the entire oxygen production in the system. The brain cells depend on oxygen so it can support a better function of the body. It helps in the blood circulation to boost its overall system have more energy. It promotes total function and regeneration.
However, when the body suddenly does not get enough oxygen, there becomes shortness of breath, and the nonessential body functions begin to shut down. When that happens, the neurons in the brain become affected and can go on a strain condition. The body reacts to that particular moment and attempts to save itself from the loss of energy. That explains why it eventually shows a slow process that people often misinterpret as a weakness. But usually, it is the body’s way of coping with internal dysfunction. Aside from that, when there is a shortage of the supply of oxygen in the brain, one experiences dizziness followed quickly by fainting. In some unfortunate instances, a blackout can occur.
Inadequate oxygen supply to the brain also causes a stroke. There is swelling due to an increased amount of water in it. It leaves pressure that crushes the brain in a slow phase. Loss of oxygen is also responsible for cerebral hemorrhage or the internal bleeding in the brain.
The Minutely Countdown
In some unfortunate instances, when there is not enough oxygenation, the brain causes more than just hallucinations. That is because of 30 to 60 seconds of deprived oxygen results in loss of consciousness. With that 1 minute mark, the brain cells begin to depreciate and die. And in the 3-minute countdown, the more extensive damage in the neurons tends to become permanent. So in 5-minutes, one can expect immediate death. But on that state, the brain is still functioning and putting all of its effort to regeneration. However, in a 10-minute time, even if the brain is still alive, a coma becomes inevitable. So in a 15-minute damage exposure, it becomes nearly impossible to survive.
A lack of oxygen induces shallow breathing, and that results in stress and anxiety. Its severity distorts the proper psychological function where it entirely changes the brain’s overall capability. The damage can manifest in the brain’s structure, size, and roles which eventually target the levels of a person’s genes. From there, it negatively secures the buildup of mental confusion, the inability to follow particular instructions, lack of emotional stability, depression, Alzheimer’s diseases, and other psychological problems. Also, oxygen deprivation to the brain associates in the slow process of learning, memory loss, and nerve cell deterioration due to fewer productions of healthy brain cells.
Aerospace physiology focuses on the physical matter associated with altitude. And since oxygenation gets involved in the topic, mental health also becomes part of it. Honestly, all things that happen in the body have something to do with the brain’s function. Whether it is emotional or physical, the psychological state gets often included in the overall discussion. So when the mental health weakens, all systems will eventually shut down.