Friday, August 28, 2015

Clawing my way out of the hole

Depression and anxiety challenge me most days. Luckily, my nights are free of the spinning thoughts and fear. My resolve is to take back the days and become content with my life again. Is the depression caused by my brain chemicals, my thinking, or a response to events in my life? I don't know. Perhaps a combination of all three.

Brain chemicals are influenced by stress, especially ongoing high levels of stress. Serotonin and other chemicals responsible for nerve cell function in the brain become depleted. The fight or flight response in the amygdalla, deep in the brain, responds as if a sabre tooth tiger is in pursuit. These chemical reactions become set patterns. Breaking the pattern can require medication, as well as talk therapy, and other methods for relief.

My thinking is definitely part of the problem. Gloom and doom. Predicted outcomes are bleak and negative. Breaking this thinking pattern requires working with a therapist to learn new ways of thinking about each issue and reinforcing the new positive thought patterns. Learning that we have little control over our future and the behavior of others, and learning to be at peace with those thoughts is essential. For Type A personalities, this is challenging. We thought we were in control. Accepting that we are not is a blow. Learning to accept change and disappointments and stress becomes a daily lesson, and not an easy one.

Repeated stressors can initiate anxiety and depression. Accumulated effects of life events such as losing a loved one, marriage difficulties, financial setbacks, job changes, and moving to a new house can trigger the depression cycle. Then the brain chemistry changes to stress response. Working toward peace requires making changes to reduce stressors and to handle those we can't change in a different manner.

For those of you who haven't experienced severe depression and anxiety, my explanation may sound trivial. "Just think positive thoughts," is a refrain that every depressed person has heard. If that admonition worked, there wouldn't be any depressed people. However, it doesn't. IT DOES NOT WORK. Overcoming depression requires a multi-faceted, personally tailored approach. Medication, exercise, cognitive therapy, and meditation may be helpful. Working with a psychiatrist and/or counselor to sort through the causes and select treatments is essential. Making lifestyle changes may be required. Plus, the process of recovery is not quick. One must be patient for the medications to work, for your thought patterns to reform, and for your stress reduction choices to have an effect.

Depression and anxiety can be resolved. Seek treatment. Take steps. Be patient.

No comments: