Neurotransmitter Depletion: Chronic depression may lead to neuron reduction responsible for memory and affects concentration and information processing. (5)
How Neurotransmitters Become Depleted
At the first sign of an impending stressor, your brain sends word to your adrenal glands to prepare for fight or flight (a call for Cats). Likewise, it may make a call on Serotonin to sooth you when you are feeling sad or worried or anxious. Everyone handles stress, worry, sadness and grieving differently, but with prolonged demands, you’ll inevitably run low on supplies. This is especially true if you are low to begin with in Dopamine, Serotonin or both. (4) Note: Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) such as Zoloft, Paxil, Desyrel, Prozac, Serzone are antidepressants commonly used to block Serotonin in the brain.
Low availability of Serotonin has been associated with high activity in the Anterior Cingulate Gyrus (ACG). This is the part of the brain that is involved with cognitive flexibility so that you may shift from task to task or idea to idea like a gear shifter. When the ACG works correctly, you can see options, go with the flow, and be inclusive and cooperative. (7)
When activity is too low, you struggle with attention
motivation and less verbalization. When activity is high, you get stuck in negative thoughts, repetitive behaviors, worrying, grudges, obsessive compulsive disorders, and rigidity. You also tend to dislike change and want things to be perfect. (7)
Like the transmission in your car, when your ACG gets stuck, you use too much energy, whine loudly and make little progress in your life. There are both
natural and pharmaceutical ways to maximize Serotonin.
Note: Orthomolecular Physicians should be able to help address the above problems. You may want to check with www.ahha.org; Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine (416) 733-2117; American Academy of Environmental Medicine (215) 862-4544; or The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians www.naturopathic.org.
Whether you are prone to low levels of Neurotransmitters or call for more then your body can produce, the results are the same; you are living in a depressed state. Depression causes the simplest tasks and responsibilities to become a challenge most days.
We must remember, however, that Depression serves a purpose. It helps us survive certain life circumstances, for example, it becomes a necessary part of dealing with the shock and loss that is a part of the grieving process. In time it facilitates healing provided we don’t get stuck there.
From reading ‘Younger Next Year’ by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, I learned that each day our Darwinian or reptilian body reacts to one of two choices, will we hunt or will we hunker down for the winter. If we are active and participate in an aerobic exercise, our body responds by supporting a cycle of growth necessary for the hunter. It makes repairs to muscles and tissues and fine tunes body systems, including the mind.
On the other hand, if we are inactive, our basic instinct calls for our body to conserve, initiating a self induced depressed state in order to preserve energy as deemed necessary in order to survive a famine or drought. Unfortunately, due to the inactive lifestyles of the majority of Americans, we are unknowingly cuing our bodies to become depressed, storing fat reserves.
Unfortunately, our body does not distinguish the difference between a work day at the computer and a day sitting in a cave. No wonder exercise becomes one of the most contributing factors to a healthy body and mind. Of course, when you are in a state of depression, it is difficult to find the energy and motivation to exercise.
My Personal Experience With Depression
I am sharing my personal experience with depression because I suspect that there are others who may find similarities in their chemical makeup, which could explain similar tendencies toward depression.
I would have to admit that I have always been prone to the ‘cups half empty’ experience of life. I was told that I began to worry about everything at a very young age. I’m not particularly comfortable with change and although I am certainly not a perfectionist, I like things to be right. I am analytical and an idealist. I’m also very susceptible to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). These personality traits, according to Dr. Amen's theory above, would indicate that I have an overactive Anterior Cingulate Gyrus (ACG) caused from low levels of Gaba, Serotonin or both. This theory makes sense to me and I've been successful in mitigating these traits with discipline and specific supplements.
Conceivably, when I lost my son, grieving called for more Serotonin then my brain was able to make and I sunk into a very deep depression. I was even having suicidal thoughts for a short period. I was on an antidepressant at the time. Keeping in mind that the specific function of the SSRIs is to re-circulate Serotonin in your brain, if you don't have enough to re-circulate, most antidepressants are of little value and can actually push you closer to suicide. Although I’ve never had my Neurotransmitters measured or a Brain Spect Scan, I’ve read, experimented and
found my own solutions to depression.
When I finally found the right solution for me, I felt like a phoenix rising from the ashes. The contrast and relief was so sudden and profound that my friends were certainly curious about what had happened. From my new point of view, I came to the realization that I had an underlying tendency towards mild to moderate depression throughout my life. It's difficult to know you're depressed, however, when it's all you've ever known, as was also the case with my son. Now, even though I was still in a period of grieving, I was able to handle it much better and even feel a sense of hope and vitality for life once again.
In retrospect, living in Colorado had, in fact, helped me keep my tendency towards depression in check for many years of my life. Because Colorado boasts three hundred and sixty days of sunshine a year and there is a focus on outdoor and athletic activities, both deterrents to depression, I rarely experienced significant symptoms of depression. I continue to have characteristic traits of an overactive ACG which leads me to believe that I will always have a tendency to use a lot of Gaba and Serotonin.
Living with depression sucks the life out of you. I’ve heard that the psychology of depression is anger turned inward and also that it is caused by energetic and emotional blocks. We feel disconnected from our higher source (God), our friends, family and most importantly, ourselves. We get caught in endless negative loops of self talk. To the extent that we find ourselves judging others, we are most likely judging ourselves just as harshly.
If you find yourself or a loved one suffering from depression, educate yourself. Most of all, be compassionate. Even though depression may be a part of a healing process under certain circumstances, don't allow it to become a permanent condition. I would recommend that you seek a professional who is open to fully understanding the
cause and effect of depression
and I would encourage you to ask a lot of questions. Expect to find someone who is able to offer you natural solutions and supplements as well as pharmaceutical aids, as may be necessary.
(2) firstname.lastname@example.org by Joan Larson
(3) Hotzehwc.com Health and Wellness Center
(4) Mood Cures by Julia Ross, M.A.
(5) 4bodyecology.com Improve Brain Health
(6) Robert Whitaker, Medical Journalist and Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1998 also author of several books including "Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America"
(7) Healing ADD and Making a Good Brain Great by Dr. Daniel Amen