Overcoming chemical imbalances…
Let’s start off with some technical jargon.
“It is now hypothesized that the biochemical impact of states of depression may be stored in neurons via changes in the activity of gene transcription factors and neuronal growth factors”.
Huh? This means that “there is a biochemical imbalance of body-produced chemicals such as serotonin and norepinephrine and their relationship to their respective receptors in the brain”.
How can these chemical imbalances be brought back into balance? And can this be done without pharmaceutical drugs which have extremely negative side effects. The answer is yes, at least for many people, if they have the desire to change and the willpower to stay on task.
And can the memory of the amygdala (a component of the brain with a primary role in processing memory, decision making, and emotional responses) be altered? Or if not, can we overcome these negative responses from the brain? At a minimum, positive lifestyle changes can be integrated into our lives to mitigate the effects of the amygdala’s negative memory. Once again, nutrition and exercise are recommended as are other holistic practices such as relaxation techniques, acupuncture and music therapy. Psychotherapy in the form of behavioral therapy or cognitive-behavioral therapy have also proven effective. Taking time to know our inner selves better is a great start to understand what the triggers are that push us into a negative direction. Understanding what the triggers are will help us figure out how to combat them and even eliminate them with practice and persistence.
Perhaps we can combat our amygdala’s memory by shifting how we think both on the conscious and unconscious levels. Basically, by implementing new habits such as new hobbies in areas we have not delved into much in the past, we will begin to use our brains differently. For example, if I have no music background and then begin practicing the guitar, I will be using the muscles in my fingers differently than with other tasks. At first playing the guitar will feel and sound awkward. But through consistent repetition, over time, holding the guitar will feel like second nature and the sounds will eventually sound more like music. At some point in the future we will not have to consciously think where our fingers need to be placed on the strings. Through repetition, our unconscious mind will learn how to play without the need for us to consciously think about the fingerings. Thus, this process alters both our conscious mind, because a new habit was formed, and our unconscious mind, because through repetition, this new skill sank into our unconscious. Then, when faced with a problem or life situation, it is possible that I may look at the problem in a different way, based on the new guitar experience and come up with a new way to tackle the problem.
Of course, if changing aspects of ourselves was easy, more people would do it. It does take a lot of work and perseverance. One must be willing to take steps, even baby steps, to make progress. It may take a person a lot of soul searching while in a state of anxiety or depression to even realize that he is in a state of anxiety or depression. When caught up in the mind rehashing negative thoughts, it is difficult to break out of that cycle long enough to even recognize what you’re doing. That’s why it is important to seek out professional help when feeling lost or confused as an objective third party with the proper education can possibly provide the individual with a spark that triggers them into action to begin to recognize their state of consciousness and accept the responsibility for taking positive action steps to begin tackling life issues head on. Because hiding from our problems will not produce positive results. It will only delay action and keep us stuck and fall deeper into anxiety or depression.
It is worth taking the risk of uncovering the layers hiding underneath our emotions and thoughts. The more we are willing to uncover about ourselves, the greater the chance for learning important lessons that will propel us into a new direction in life. One that enriches us, makes us stronger and excited about living this life to the best of our abilities.