The human brain evolved to notice bad things. If your fellow cave man died after eating some strange berries, you better believe your brain would remember that forever.
This evolutionary survival trait has taken on some interesting quirks as humankind has left the caves behind for the constant noise of the modern world. A person has a lot to take in when dealing with life in the 21st century. Even if your personal life is perfect, the problems of the world are apparent to everyone living in it. And after all, whose personal life is perfect?
Depression and anxiety are more common than ever. That does not necessarily mean the world is drowning misery; just fifty years ago we did not have the diagnostic tools, or even the theoretical framework, to examine mental illness in the way we do today.
Regardless of how or why we record depression and anxiety at higher rates than ever, we also have more tools for dealing with them than ever. In some ways, we can look back and see that depression and anxiety have always been with humans, from as far back as those caves.
But how do we deal with them in our day-to-day lives?
Coping With Chemicals
One of the most important things to understand about depression and anxiety is that they are not just about how you think about the world. Your outlook on life and events can impact your mental state, but you should think of depression and anxiety as essentially chemical.
What we will do is talk about the chemical states that allow and disallow depression and anxiety. Then, once we have established those, we will talk about what to do about them.
But first, we should clarify that the word “chemicals” is going to be used rather broadly here. Most of what we talk about in terms of the brain chemistry at play in mental illness has to do with “hormones”, which are the chemicals responsible for carrying signals to the nerves.
Certain hormones are tasked with brining certain types of signals to certain types of nerves. It is important you understand that in order to understand how the chemical state of your body might impact your mental health. Too much of one hormone means too much of one signal.
The Chemicals of Depression
As you may know, the main symptoms of depression are reduced mood and energy levels. But that does not do justice to just how oppressive depression can be. Depression means that not only is one unhappy, but things that made them happy no longer make them happy.
Why does this happen? Part of the answer lies in one of the chemicals that goes throughout the entire body and is one of the five chemicals at play in the brain: Dopamine.
Dopamine does a lot of things, but most people know it as the chemical responsible for happiness. Basically, dopamine feels good. Depressed people usually have a lack of dopamine in their system. But that hardly tells the whole story, as dopamine is not the only hormone that depressed people lack. After all, if it was that simple, the body would just make more dopamine.
Depression also involves a lack of sleep and difficulty waking up and staying awake. This is because depression is both caused by and causes issues with serotonin—the hormone that triggers the sleep and waking cycle.
The Chemicals of Anxiety
While Anxiety does not deal as much with dopamine, it is still concerned with serotonin. Stress can disrupt the serotonin cycle in general, and that can cause the other symptoms of anxiety to manifest. But in order to talk about that, let’s go over the symptoms of anxiety.
There are many different levels of anxiety. It can start with a general feeling of nervousness. That is the lowest level. But as it develops, there will be one overriding problem: The amount of nervousness a person with anxiety feels will be out of proportion to what makes them nervous.
From where does this process emerge? As you might have guessed, it is not just a matter of your serotonin cycle. It also has to do with norepinephrine, also known as noradrenaline.
This is a hormone that communicates with the entire nervous system. What is its job? To get you to run or fight. That is a pretty extreme job, but it has served humanity well for a long time.
Norepinephrine reactions come from interpretations of danger. The problem is that trauma can cause a person to interpret danger where there is no, triggering an anxiety attack.
What to do About These Chemicals
Now we know what chemicals cause depression and anxiety, at least as much as science can indicate to us. What do we do about these things? Well, there are a few angles of attack.
To begin with, there are lots of highly effective medications for both anxiety and depression. Not only can they make these things easier to deal with, but if one medication does not work for you, then you can always try another.
But besides medication, cognitive behavior therapy is a strong tool in dealing with them. We mentioned how your way of thinking towards depression and anxiety is not the only thing that determines how it goes. And that is true. But there are still right and wrong ways to think about depression and anxiety, as some thought patterns will just make both of them worse.
Perhaps the best thing you can do every day to deal with anxiety and depression is exercise. Getting a good workout releases dopamine and burns norepinephrine. It will not cure either affliction, but it will make both of them easier to manage and it doesn’t cost anything to run.
Knowing how to deal with depression and anxiety daily is important because depression and anxiety can both influence your life on a daily basis. If you need any more help understanding how they work or what to do about them, contact: https://epiphanywellness.com/