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All About Limbic System Dysfunction: Symptoms and Therapy

Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju
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Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju

Limbic system disorder can be due to a range of factors, including:

  • genetics;
  • environmental stressors;
  • traumatic experiences. 

Limbic system damage symptoms can vary widely. Still, they may include:

  • feelings of anxiety or panic;
  • intrusive thoughts or memories;
  • difficulty sleeping;
  • a sense of detachment from oneself or others. 

These symptoms can be debilitating and interfere with daily life, relationships, and well-being.

A range of methods is available in limbic system therapy. These may include psychotherapy, medication, and mindfulness-based practices. Lifestyle changes such as regular exercise and a healthy diet are also beneficial. Depending on the specific condition and symptoms, a doctor recommends different options.

In this article, we will delve into the various therapies. They are available to help manage limbic system dysfunction, including:

  • cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT);
  • exposure therapy;
  • breathing practices;
  • gestalt therapy.

We will also discuss the benefits of lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise and diet. So continue reading to discover new valuable information about limbic system dysfunction


What is a Limbic System?

The limbic system is a set of nervous structures and their connections. You can recognize them in the mediobasal part of the large hemispheres. They take part in controlling autonomic functions and emotional, instinctive behavior. They also can influence the change in sleep and wakefulness phases.

The limbic system includes the oldest part of the cerebral cortex. They have a location on the inner side of the large hemispheres. It includes: 

  • the hippocampus;
  • the cingulate gyrus;
  • the amygdala nuclei;
  • the pear-shaped gyrus. 

Limbic system disorder has a relation to higher integrative centers of autonomic function regulation. Neurons of the limbic system receive impulses from:

  • cortex;
  • subcortical nuclei;
  • the thalamus;
  • the hypothalamus;
  • reticular formation, and all internal organs. 

A characteristic feature is the presence of well-defined ring neuronal connections. These features unite its various structures. Among the facilities responsible for memory and learning, the main role has:

  • the hippocampus;
  • the associated posterior areas of the frontal cortex. 

Their activity is important for the transition of short-term memory into long-term memory.

The limbic system takes part in afferent synthesis. Also, it is essential for controlling the brain’s electrical activity. It also regulates metabolic processes and provides several autonomic reactions. Limbic system damage symptoms go with:

  • manifestations of defensive behavior;
  • changes in the activity of internal organs. 

The limbic system is also involved in the formation of behavioral reactions. It contains the cortical section of the olfactory analyzer.


What Does Limbic System Do?

The limbic system has multiple afferent and efferent connections with other brain structures. Its structures interact with each other. Functions of the limbic system have the basis of integrative processes taking place. At the same time, individual structures of the limbic system have delineated functions. Basic functions that are damaged by limbic system disorder are:

  • Emotional-motivational behavior (in fear, aggression, hunger, thirst). It is an emotionally colored motor with reactions.
  • Taking part in the organization of complex forms of behavior, such as instincts. One of the most popular are food, sexual, and defensive.
  • Participation in orientation reflexes: alertness and attention reactions.
  • Contribution to memory formation and learning dynamics (development of individual behavioral experience).
  • Regulation of biological rhythms, particularly changes in sleep and wakefulness phases.
  • Involvement in maintaining homeostasis by regulating autonomic functions.


Symptoms of the Limbic System Dysfunction

symptoms of the limbic system dysfunction

Damage to the limbic system often leads to disorders. As a rule, they occur in the emotional and motivational spheres. Thus, frequent symptoms are the appearance of constant feelings of:

  • fear;
  • tension;
  • longing;
  • anger;
  • depression;
  • emotional instability.

Seizures that result from an area of the temporal lobe in the limbic lobe usually last only a few minutes. The limbic lobe includes structures deep in the cerebral hemispheres. Also, it has some parts of the adjacent lobes, such as the temporal lobe. Limbic system damage symptoms are, thus, straightforward to recognize:

  • To begin with, people may be unable to control their senses or think clearly. 
  • They may perceive unpleasant smells that are not there (a type of hallucination). 
  • They may seem lethargic and not perceive their surroundings. 
  • People may make automatic movements such as repeatedly swallowing or smacking their lips. 
  • Sometimes, these epileptic seizures can cause personality changes, such as:
  • lack of a sense of humor;
  • excessive religiosity;
  • obsession. 
  • People may also have a very strong urge to write.

What Happens If the Limbic System is Damaged?

If the limbic system has damage, it can result in a range of problems. The most popular are neurological and psychological symptoms. The specific symptoms can vary depending on the extent and location of the damage. The cause of the damage also plays an important role.

The limbic system includes structures of the reticular formation of the midbrain. Thus, some authors suggest talking about the limbic-reticular complex (LRC). It is common that the limbic system damage symptoms lead to the development of vegetative dystonia:

  • disruption of connections between the reticular formation;
  • other components of the limbic system.

A prominent manifestation of autonomic dystonia is autonomic crises. They are sympathetic or parasympathetic and necessarily accompanied by emotional disturbances. The patient experiences fear of death, anxiety, and despair. That is why vegetative crises are often called panic attacks. Outside of crises, patients cannot adapt to the changing conditions of the environment. They poorly tolerate:

  • lack of sleep;
  • weather changes;
  • hot baths;
  • stuffy rooms;
  • long pauses in eating;
  • psycho-emotional stress;
  • prolonged standing. 

They often develop fainting spells. And women feel significantly worse during the premenstrual period.


Limbic System Therapy

There is no officially approved therapy program for such disorders today. The novelty of this direction has such effects here. Large medical institutes have not yet had time to conduct full-scale research due to them. But certain methods of health restoration in limbic system disorder are actively used.

In particular, it further describes such institutions as:

  • the Canadian Brain Injury Association;
  • the Canadian Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy;
  • the American Academy of Environmental Medicine;
  • the Institute for Functional Medicine.

All of them have paid special attention to this issue. 

According to their rankings, the most effective methods in limbic system therapy  are:

  • cognitive behavioral therapy;
  • neurolinguistic programming;
  • neurosomatic therapy;
  • gestalt therapy;
  • cognitive retention therapy;
  • brain stimulation exercises;
  • physical therapy (particularly massage, therapeutic exercise, and breathing exercises).
  • structural meditation;
  • dietary modification;
  • breathing practices, etc.

You may discover some of these methods to treat limbic system dysfunction in more detail below.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

It is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on the relationship between a person’s:

  • thoughts;
  • feelings;
  • behaviors. 

CBT helps individuals identify negative thoughts. These beliefs contribute to their emotional distress. It also replaces them with more positive and helpful ones.

Gestalt Therapy

The experiential form of psychotherapy as limbic system therapy that focuses on:

  • the present moment;
  • the individual’s experience in the here and now. 

Gestalt therapy helps individuals gain insight into their thoughts and feelings. It also develops new ways of relating to themselves and others.

Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP)

NLP is a therapeutic approach that focuses on:

  • the language;
  • patterns of behavior that people use to create their experiences. 

NLP aims to help individuals change their behavior and language patterns. So, it helps achieve specific goals and overcome negative thoughts and emotions.

Neurosomatic Therapy

It is a manual therapy approach to treat:

  • chronic pain;
  • dysfunction by addressing the underlying muscular and skeletal imbalances contributing to the pain. 

This therapy for limbic system disorder combines techniques from various manual therapy modalities, including:

  • osteopathy;
  • chiropractic, and physical therapy.

Cognitive Retention Therapy (CRT)

Cognitive training program improves memory and cognitive function in individuals. It helps people with mild cognitive impairment or dementia. CRT involves exercises that challenge the individual’s memory and cognitive skills, such as:

  • remembering lists of words;
  • solving puzzles.

Brain Stimulation Exercises

Activities that target the brain’s neural circuits. Also, it helps to improve cognitive function and mental health. These exercises can include activities such as meditation, mindfulness, and cognitive training programs.

Dietary Modification

This limbic system therapy involves changing one’s diet to improve health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. This can include reducing the consumption of processed and high-fat foods. Doctors also recommend increasing the intake of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein.

Breathing Practices

Breathing practices can help individuals reduce stress and anxiety. You can reach it by activating the body’s relaxation response.  Use the techniques such as:

  • deep breathing;
  • diaphragmatic breathing.

These practices can be incorporated into daily routines. 

Physical Therapy

The healthcare speciality focuses on preventing and treating physical impairment and disability. Physical therapists use techniques such as:

  • massage;
  • therapeutic exercise;
  • breathing exercises. 

As it improves mobility and physical function and reduces pain.


Bottom Line

Overall, limbic system dysfunction therapy is an integrative approach to psychotherapy. As it draws on various modalities to overall health and well-being. Professional neurologists will provide you with high-quality services. So do not hesitate to book an appointment for top-notch medical help.



What symptoms are associated with a limbic system dysfunction?

A limbic system dysfunction can lead to anxiety, depression, mood swings, memory problems, emotional dysregulation, and difficulty with social interactions. Also it can also contribute to the development of mental health disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

What causes dysfunction in the limbic system?

A variety of factors, including traumatic brain injury, genetic mutations, infections, and neurodegenerative diseases, can cause dysfunction in the limbic system. It can also be triggered by chronic stress, substance abuse, and other environmental factors. 

Can Limbic System Dysfunction cause anxiety disorders?

Yes, Limbic System Dysfunction can cause anxiety disorders as it can affect the amygdala, which plays a key role in processing fear and anxiety.

How is Limbic System Dysfunction diagnosed?

Doctors typically diagnose it through clinical evaluation, brain imaging, and neuropsychological testing. The evaluation may involve a review of medical history and symptoms, while imaging techniques like MRI or CT scans can help identify any structural abnormalities in the brain.

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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been more
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Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
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It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any more
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Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
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I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going more
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21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my more
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The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to more
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16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 more
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MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his more
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Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
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Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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  1. 11/08/2023

    Excelente infomacion felicidades ! Y mi agradecimiento por El conocimiento que me otorgo’ ‘ El texto gracias.

  2. 10/09/2023

    Very informative. I’d like to know if chemotherapy can cause limbic system dysfunction. Or whether lack of oxygen from a collapsed lung could cause limbic dysfunction. How exactly does trauma cause limbic dysfunction? What specifically occurs?

    • 19/09/2023

      I am rewiring my brain from Limbic System Impairment associated with chronic, long term stress/traumas, Lyme Disease and a post viral infection (Not Covid–mine was before the pandemic). A perfect storm of stressors that locked in a chronic, maladaptive stress response and led to PTSD. I suffered for years without doctors understanding any of this (this leads to further stress and further impairment, sadly). I am finally regaining some health and vitality with DNRS. I highly recommend it and I am training to become a coach to assist others going through the same challenges who want to rewire and recover.

  3. 13/03/2024

    Important information. With breathing therapy we want to emphasize nasal breathing and not mouth breathing. Deep, slow, breathing through our nose is vital for our overall health

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