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Discover Monthly Archive

 

Discover Anxiety

month of august

What is Anxiety? 

 

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary

(2) medical : an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one's capacity to cope with it

General Statistics

 

Anxiety and Depression Association of America​​

  • Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.

  • Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment.

  • People with an anxiety disorder are three to five times more likely to go to the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than those who do not suffer from anxiety disorders.

  • Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.

How to cope with anxiety | Olivia Remes | TEDxUHasselt

Anxiety is one of most prevalent mental health disorders, with 1 out of 14 people around the world being likely affected. Leading up to conditions such as depression, increased risk for suicide, disability and requirement of high health services, very few people who often need

treatment actually receive it. In her talk “How to cope with anxiety”, Olivia Remes of the University of Cambridge will share her vision on anxiety and will unravel ways to treat and manage this health disorder. Arguing that treatments such as psychotherapy and medication exist and often result in poor outcome and high rates of relapses, she will emphasise the importance of harnessing strength in ourselves as we modify our problem-coping mechanisms. Olivia will stress that by allowing ourselves to believe that what happens in life is comprehensive, meaningful, and manageable, one can significantly improve their risk of developing anxiety disorders. Anxiety is one of most prevalent mental health disorders, with 1 out of 14 people around the world being likely affected. Leading up to conditions such as depression, increased risk for suicide, disability and requirement of high health services, very few people who often need treatment actually receive it. In her talk “How to cope with anxiety”, Olivia Remes of the University of Cambridge will share her vision on anxiety and will unravel ways to treat and manage this health disorder. Arguing that treatments such as psychotherapy and medication exist and often result in poor outcome and high rates of relapses, she will emphasise the importance of harnessing strength in ourselves as we modify our problem-coping mechanisms. At TEDxUHasselt 2017, Olivia will stress that by allowing ourselves to believe that what happens in life is comprehensive, meaningful, and manageable, one can significantly improve their risk of developing anxiety disorders.

Articlesabout Anxiety

Anxiety Disorders on Psych Central

December 17, 2017

"Anxiety disorders are a set of related mental conditions that include: generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social phobia, and simple phobias. Anxiety disorders are treated by a combination of psychiatric medications and psychotherapy."

A Poem on What Anxiety Really Is on The Mighty

April 24, 2017

"Anxiety is not all what it seems
It’s not butterflies in your stomach
Or a rush of blood to your head
It’s a thousand pounding drums in your chest
The stuttering, muttering, mumbling
Of words your lips can’t expel
The beads of sweat breaking out on your brow
Then trickling down your cheek
Anxiety is desperately trying
To look strong when you’re undeniably weak"

What Does an Anxiety Disorder Feel Like? on TIME

December 11, 2017

"If 2.6 billion people were suffering from an illness, you’d think we’d all be more familiar with it. That figure represents 33.7% of the population of the world, after all. It also represents the share of that population that will at some point experience an anxiety disorder, according to the National Institutes of Health."

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Norepinephrine

THE CHEMISTRY

BEHIND

ANXIETY

Corticotrophin-Releasing Hormone

Mechanism

Anxiety symptoms are activated by a part of the brain stem called the locus ceruleus. When something stressful is sensed, neurons in the locus ceruleus start firing more intensely than usual. Norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter, transports neural messages from the locus ceruleus to the spinal cord and other parts of the brain. Norepinephrine is then released from the nerve endings to act on the heart, blood vessels and respiratory centers, causing the rapid heartbeat, higher blood pressure and quick breathing.

 

Origin

The amygdala and the hippocampus are two parts of the brain that play the most important role in anxiety. The amygdala lies deep within the brain and interprets incoming sensory signals. If there is a threat, it will alert the rest of the brain, including the hippocampus, which creates memories from the threatening event that are then stored back in the amygdala. The amygdala and hippocampus are both responsible for activating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis, the system that regulates the stress response.

 

Reactions

In the HPA axis, the hypothalamus is the first part of the system to be activated by the amygdala. The hypothalamus then stimulates the sympathetic nervous system to release the stress hormone corticotrophin-releasing hormone, or CRH. CRH then acts on the adrenal cortex to release glucocorticoids, which are hormones that balance the stress response by facilitating its activation and also inhibiting it when the response has been adequate. The amygdala also connects to the periaqueductal gray matter in the brain, which sends signals to the spinal cord to initiate an analgesic response. This can suppress pain in an emergency and initiate defensive actions--for example, when a scared animal freezes up.

MY EXPERIENCE

WITH ANXIETY

I have anxiety and I was diagnosed in 8th grade when my grades started dropping and I started to feel like something was off because I was working the hardest I could in my classes. I actually developed OCD at this time which was my brain's coping method for the anxiety I felt because of my grades and everything else going on at the time. I had a lead in our school musical and after I went on stage I would always struggle to catch my breath. I thought it was just stagefright but when I talked to my friends they didn't describe it in the way that I felt it; or even close. I felt a crushing in the pit of my stomach and a feeling as if I was either going to faint or throw up. After I got off stage I would have to sit down because everything around me was spinning.

I took a psych evaluation because of my dropping grades and because my dad has some learning disorders, like dyslexia (which I was diagnosed with). My friends had an easier time talking to people and I always found myself on the side, alone. It was difficult because sometimes people would tell me "just be more outgoing". It doesn't work that way. You are the way you are and while you should push yourself occasionally, you shouldn't have to change yourself to make friends. I apologized all the time, essentially for everything I did and people got annoyed and would say, "you don't really mean it then when you say it because you say it all the time." It wasn't something that I did on purpose. It was a habit I developed because I wanted people to like me and I wanted to always say the right thing. I never wanted to be a burden to anyone.

Anxiety has been something that I have had since I can remember. Honestly, I don't really remember a time in my life without anxiety. I have medications now and they have made it a lot easier to calm myself down, but medications aren't the only part of what is helping me reduce my overall anxiety levels; it's also therapy. I am a lot better because of speaking up and advocating for myself.

BOOKS THAT EFFECTIVELY PORTRAY ANXIETY

10 things i can see from here

Overview

"10 Things I Can See From Here by Carrie Mac

Perfect for fans of John Green's Turtles All the Way Down, this is the poignant and uplifting story of Maeve, who is dealing with anxiety while falling in love with a girl who is not afraid of anything.
 
Think positive.
Don’t worry; be happy.
Keep calm and carry on.
 
Maeve has heard it all before. She’s been struggling with severe anxiety for a long time, and as much as she wishes it was something she could just talk herself out of, it’s not. She constantly imagines the worst, composes obituaries in her head, and is always ready for things to fall apart. To add to her troubles, her mom—the only one who really gets what Maeve goes through—is leaving for six months, so Maeve will be sent to live with her dad in Vancouver.
 
Vancouver brings a slew of new worries, but Maeve finds brief moments of calm (as well as even more worries) with Salix, a local girl who doesn’t seem to worry about anything. Between her dad’s wavering sobriety, her very pregnant stepmom insisting on a home birth, and her bumbling courtship with Salix, this summer brings more catastrophes than even Maeve could have foreseen. Will she be able to navigate through all the chaos to be there for the people she loves?"

 

the perks of being a wallflower

Overview

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Since its publication, Stephen Chbosky’s haunting debut novel has received critical acclaim, provoked discussion and debate, grown into a cult phenomenon with over three million copies in print, spent over one year at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, and inspired a major motion picture starring Logan Lerman and Emma Watson.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a story about what it’s like to travel that strange course through the uncharted territory of high school. The world of first dates, family dramas, and new friends. Of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Of those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up."

all the bright places

Overview

"All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

 

The beloved New York Times bestseller that Entertainment Weekly described as “sparkling” and says “get[s] under your skin.” You won’t soon forget this heart-wrenching, unflinching story of love shared, life, lived, and two teens who find each other while standing on the edge.


Theodore Finch is fascinated by death. Every day he thinks of ways he might kill himself, but every day he also searches for—and manages to find—something to keep him here, and alive, and awake.

 

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her small Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
 
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school—six stories above the ground— it’s unclear who saves whom. Soon it’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. . . ."

CELEBRITIES WHO ADVOCATE

"... he reminds himself that despite how all-consuming anxiety can be, the feeling won't last forever. 'All pain is temporary,' he explained. 'Sometimes it lasts two hours, sometimes it lasts a day and sometimes it lasts five minutes. The point of the song is that no matter how long that lasts, you can come out the other end stronger and you come out of the other end always.'"

in my blood

"Mendes sticks to his signature acoustic sound, but “In My Blood” is a mature track filled with lines of anxiety and emotional pain."

"While Oprah still battles anxiety today; it's something that has affected her throughout her entire life. She recently revealed that when she was a child she was sexually abused. The abuse she suffered happened for several years, which really took a toll on her mental and physical health. This experience changed the way she looked at her life and she was never the same after it. Her anxieties were rooted in the abuse she dealt with for years until she finally got professional help. These experiences caused her to have bad self-esteem and an anxious feeling when dealing with some people."

 

Discover Borderline Personality Disorder

month of september

What is Borderline Personality Disorder? 

 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health

(Borderline personality disorder is a mental illness marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior. These symptoms often result in impulsive actions and problems in relationships. People with borderline personality disorder may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that can last from a few hours to days.

General Statistics

 

National Institute of Mental Health

Based on diagnostic interview data from the National Comorbidity Study Replication (NCS-R), Figure 1 shows the past year prevalence of U.S. adults aged 18 and older with personality disorders.1

  • The prevalence of any personality disorder was 9.1% and borderline personality disorder was 1.4%.

  • Sex and race were not found to be associated with the prevalence of personality disorders.

exhibit at least 5 of the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). If you have been diagnosed with BPD the best thing for you to do is to purchase a Dialectical Behavior Therapy workbook (I recommend a good one on my website in the Amazon books section at the bottom of all my pages) and also I recommend that you find and join a Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBP) group in your area.

Borderline Personality Disorder, Self-Harm and Eating Disorders. In this video I talk about their relationship. Many of the symptoms of BPD lead us to acting out in SH or ED. Many of you will find that you can associate with some of these symptoms, but remember that you must be properly diagnosed by a medical professional and

What is Borderline Personality Disorder? | Kati Morton

ArticlesAbout BPD

The Contradiction That Defines Part of Borderline Personality Disorder on The Mighty

December 23, 2017

"One of the defining characteristics of borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a contradiction — the push-pull mechanic that many people with the disorder find themselves using subconsciously. It’s so common that a famous book written about BPD is called “I Hate You — Don’t Leave Me.” Love/hate. Can’t live with you/can’t live without you. It has its basis in the black and white thinking that is also typical of BPD. No gray areas. Things are either one extreme or the other, not in the middle. This contradiction is no different, but we can experience both extremes at the same time, or flip between them often."

Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

December 30, 2018

"Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious psychological condition that's characterized by unstable moods and emotions, relationships, and behavior. It's one of several personality disorders recognized by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). Personality disorders are psychological conditions that begin in adolescence or early adulthood, continue over many years, and, when left untreated, can cause a great deal of distress. Thankfully, the treatment that's targeted to BPD can help significantly... BPD can often interfere with your ability to enjoy life or achieve fulfillment in relationships, work, or school. It's associated with specific and significant problems in interpersonal relationships, self-image, emotions, behaviors, and thinking".

9 Surprising Physical Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder on Yahoo! Lifestyle

January 20, 2018

"Because borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental illness that affects emotional regulation, people tend to focus on the mental and emotional symptoms people experience.

But people with BPD can also experience physical symptoms we need to talk about."

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THE CHEMISTRY

BEHIND

BPD

"Someone with BPD, as discussed earlier, experiences many extreme symptoms, all of which are related to emotional disturbances. Many of these, as discovered by scientists, are a result of extremely low levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is the chemical that helps to maintain order and limit impulsivity. With low levels of serotonin, the patient becomes considerably more impulsive. A lack of Serotonin usually leads to criminal-like areSomeone with BPD, as discussed earlier, experiences many extreme symptoms, all of which are related to emotional disturbances. Many of these, as discovered by scientists,   behaviour, anger-related traits, violent suicidal behaviour, and impulsive aggression.  

          When there is a low amount of Serotonin in the brain, this means that Dopamine is predominantly present. According to studies, high amounts of Dopamine have the same, or quite similar, effects as a lack of Serotonin. This is because elevated levels of Dopamine directly correspond with aggression. The resulting aggression tends to be so severe that by the end of the aggressive phase, the patient almost fails to recognize angry expressions. The increased impulsivity causes the brain to remain less focused on certain tasks which is what causes impairment in simple tasks, such as reading and recognizing facial expressions.

HOW DOES THERAPY HELP?

"(DBT). This treatment was originally developed to help chronically suicidal individuals. DBT combines crisis intervention support with other intervention practices that are theoretically grounded in Eastern meditative and acceptance-based philosophies. Research conducted on this treatment dialectical behavior therapy. The most successful and effective psychotherapeutic approach to date has been Marsha Linehan’s have shown it to be more effective than most other psychotherapeutic and medical approaches to helping a person to better cope with this

disorder. DBT focuses on helping the client build skills in acceptance and tolerance of intense negative emotions as a means to take better control of their lives, their emotions, and themselves. In DBT, the therapist and client are expected to build a relationship where the therapist can help the client start to bridge the gap between “emotional” and “rational” interpretations of their world. In addition, client and therapist exchanges help the client negotiate a balance between acceptance and change of certain client tendencies (hence the term “dialectical”). The client must give the therapist permission to question/identify (in a moderately non-confrontational manner) distorted interpretations or inappropriate reactions the client may display over the course of therapy that are based on emotional reactivity rather than rational processing. Treatment targets are agreed upon, with self-harm taking priority. It is a comprehensive approach that is most often conducted within a group setting. Because the skill set learned is new and complex, it is not an appropriate therapy for those who may have difficulty learning new concepts."

MY EXPERIENCE

WITH BPD

TRIGGER WARNING: Self-harm, depression, suicidal ideation

 

When I was hospitalized for my depression, I was there for about a month. Generally, people stayed for around two weeks, and I was planning to until I had a bit of a breakdown. It was three days before I was to be dismissed from the program, I found out that my school was going to make me go to the last week of school to take all my finals. I was completely overwhelmed and started crying like crazy. My therapist had gone into the bathroom before I started crying and by the time he got back, I was crying under a desk. He asked me if that happened a lot and I said yes, and he said that he thought I might have something called borderline personality disorder. This happened about twenty minutes before dismissal on Friday, so I was to have the entire weekend to think about this. He told me that he couldn't formally diagnose me until I was 18, because that when they could be surer that I showed all the symptoms, and it wasn't just hormonal mood swings. He gave me a packet on BPD, and I was left to my own devices for the weekend. I read the packet about a thousand times. It sounded so much like me, but the packet only described the negative things about it, so I read it over and over. I took the whole thing to heart, and increasingly grew to feel like a monster.

My family decided to take me out for a movie, and we went to see the new "Mummy" movie, and Jekyll and Hyde were in the film, and all of a sudden, I started to become overwhelmed in a feeling that I was that monster. I was angry, and I had the capability to hurt people around me. I was terrified of myself. 

I told someone about the possible diagnosis, and they asked me "is that the thing from 'Split'?". Someone had just validated the fear that had consumed me. I was a monster.

I lashed out and relapsed in myself harm, and after that, I was placed into inpatient at McLean, the hospital I was going to. It wasn't as scary as the movies make it out to be. It was comfortable, clean, and safe. I was safe.

 

Since then, I have started intensive DBT therapy at McLean's outpatient's facility, and have continued to heal. I relapsed in self-harm in my sophomore year, but since then, I have been clean for a year and a half. My interpersonal relationships have become stronger, and I have a great group of friends and a boyfriend that I have been with for almost seven months.

 

BPD can be caused by neglect, and also be caused genetically. I think that it was a combination for me. I had a difficult relationship with my parents growing up, but therapy has helped us become a stronger family.

 

While there are many downsides to BPD, I do think that there are also some good sides to living with it. Because you feel emotions more strongly, you don't just feel sadness or anger more, you also feel love more, and even happiness. In addition, I think overall, the experience of living with BPD has made me a more empathetic and courageous person.

BOOKS THAT EFFECTIVELY PORTRAY BPD

girl, interrupted

by Susanna Kaysen

Overview

"In 1967, after a session with a psychiatrist she'd never seen before, eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen was put in a taxi and sent to McLean Hospital. She spent most of the next two years in the ward for teenage girls in a psychiatric hospital as renowned for its famous clientele—Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor, and Ray Charles—as for its progressive methods of treating those who could afford its sanctuary."

get me out of here: my recovery from borderline personality disorder

Overview

"With astonishing honesty, this memoir reveals what mental illness looks and feels like from the inside, and how healing from borderline personality disorder is possible through intensive therapy and the support of loved ones.

With astonishing honesty, this memoir, Get Me Out of Here, reveals what mental illness looks and feels like from the inside, and how healing from borderline
personality disorder is possible through intensive therapy and the support of loved ones. A mother, wife, and working professional, Reiland was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder at the age of 29—a diagnosis that finally explained her explosive anger, manipulative behaviors, and self-destructive episodes including bouts of anorexia, substance abuse, and promiscuity. A truly riveting read with a hopeful message."

the bell jar

by Sylvia Plath

 Overview

"Sylvia Plath's shocking, realistic, and intensely emotional novel about a woman falling into the grip of insanity. 

Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. In her acclaimed and enduring masterwork, Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther's breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational—as accessible an experience as going to the movies.
A deep penetration into the darkest and most harrowing corners of the human psyche, The Bell Jar is an extraordinary accomplishment and a haunting American classic." 

by Rachel Reiland

CELEBRITIES WHO ADVOCATE

"Davidson had some genuine (and some funny) things to say about what it’s like living with BPD, from how he’s in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) — 'It’s steps, it’s thought processing, you have these thoughts, you have these feelings, you have these urges, you’re going to freak out. Try waiting it out 10 minutes. Try going for a walk.' — to his fear of abandonment — 'When people say they’re leaving and coming back, I get a really big fear that they’re not coming back.'"

Discover Depression

 

month of october

What is Depression? 

 

According to the American Psychiatric Foundation

Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.

General Statistics

 

National Institute of Mental Health

  • Major depressive disorder affects approximately 17.3 million American adults, or about 7.1% of the U.S. population age 18 and older, in a given year. (National Institute of Mental Health “Major Depression”, 2017)

  • Major depressive disorder is more prevalent in women than in men. (Journal of the American Medical Association, 2003; Jun 18; 289(23): 3095-105)

  • 1.9 million children, 3 – 17, have diagnosed depression. (Centers for Disease Control “Data and Statistics on Children’s Mental Health”, 2018)

  • Adults with a depressive disorder or symptoms have a 64 percent greater risk of developing coronary artery disease. (National Institute of Health, Heart disease and depression: A two-way relationship, 2017)

What is depression? - Helen M. Farrell | Ted-Ed

Depression is the leading cause of disability in the world; in the United States, close to ten percent of adults struggle with the disease. But because it’s a mental illness, it can be a lot harder to understand than, say, high cholesterol. Helen M. Farrell examines the symptoms and treatments of depression, and gives some tips for how you might help a friend who is suffering.

ARTICLES ABOUT DEPRESSION

Talking About Depression Is Uncomfortable, but Necessary

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"We need to break through the uncomfortable barrier in order to really help someone. Being uncomfortable for a few seconds, minutes or hours is worth it if it saves a life. Seems a bit dramatic but it’s true. I was once contemplating my suicide and if it would hurt. However depressed and suicidal I was, I got a message on Facebook from my partner, just asking how I was. That saved my life. She saved my life without even knowing it. The littlest things can keep a person living. Remember that."

The Unexpected Symptoms I Didn't Realize 'Screamed' Depression

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"One thing that makes depression so complex to understand is the fact that it varies so much from person to person. There are multiple lists you can find online with lots of symptoms of depression. When you get the flu, you might have a fever, sore throat and upset stomach and you will know something is wrong and will probably go into the doctor.

With depression, you could feel more tired than usual, irritable, and feel more down on yourself and may have no idea you’re experiencing depression because the “common” symptoms most people use to recognize depression are suicidal thoughts, loss of appetite, hopelessness, anxiety, emptiness and depressed mood. Therefore, because there’s a wide variety of symptoms and you may not match up with all of them, you could easily dismiss it as a rough patch in your life. Or you may not notice the change at all because it’s not uncommon to forget to pay attention to your mental health."

When I Heard Someone Say Some Depressed People 'Don't Want to Get Better'When I Heard Someone Say Some Depressed People 'Don't Want to Get Better'

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"The comment was about how some depressed people don’t want to get better because they get used to feeling that way, so they just don’t try. Wow. But for those of us with clinical depression (or anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc.), more often than not we do want to get better. That is why we take our medications and go to therapy. Just like patients get treatment and have follow-up visits with their doctors. The list could go on of conditions that are medical and are, therefore, medically treated.

The general population doesn’t seem to get that it’s one and the same with depression. This to me is just ignorance and misinformation. There is a gap between what people think they know about depression and what depression is really like. I think that gap exists for two reasons: One is, like I mentioned before, ignorance and misinformation. It’s when people believe we’re just having a bad day and need to snap out of it. The second reason is you probably can’t understand depression if you have never experienced true clinical depression."

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THE CHEMISTRY

BEHIND

DEPRESSION

"Increasingly sophisticated forms of brain imaging — such as positron emission tomography (PET), single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) — permit a much closer look at the working brain than was possible in the past. An fMRI scan, for example, can track changes that take place when a region of the brain responds during various tasks. A PET or SPECT scan can map the brain by measuring the distribution and density of neurotransmitter receptors in certain areas.

Use of this technology has led to a better understanding of which brain regions regulate mood and how other functions, such as memory, may be affected by depression. Areas that play a significant role in depression are the amygdala, the thalamus, and the hippocampus (see Figure 1).

Research shows that the hippocampus is smaller in some depressed people. For example, in one fMRI study published in The Journal of Neuroscience, investigators studied 24 women who had a history of depression. On average, the hippocampus was 9% to 13% smaller in depressed women compared with those who were not depressed. The more bouts of depression a woman had, the smaller the hippocampus. Stress, which plays a role in depression, may be a key factor here, since experts believe stress can suppress the production of new neurons (nerve cells) in the hippocampus.

Researchers are exploring possible links between sluggish production of new neurons in the hippocampus and low moods. An interesting fact about antidepressants supports this theory. These medications immediately boost the concentration of chemical messengers in the brain (neurotransmitters). Yet people typically don't begin to feel better for several weeks or longer. Experts have long wondered why, if depression were primarily the result of low levels of neurotransmitters, people don't feel better as soon as levels of neurotransmitters increase.

The answer may be that mood only improves as nerves grow and form new connections, a process that takes weeks. In fact, animal studies have shown that antidepressants do spur the growth and enhanced branching of nerve cells in the hippocampus. So, the theory holds, the real value of these medications may be in generating new neurons (a process called neurogenesis), strengthening nerve cell connections, and improving the exchange of information between nerve circuits. If that's the case, depression medications could be developed that specifically promote neurogenesis, with the hope that patients would see quicker results than with current treatments."

Hippocampus: The hippocampus is part of the limbic system and has a central role in processing long-term memory and recollection. Interplay between the hippocampus and the amygdala might account for the adage "once bitten, twice shy." It is this part of the brain that registers fear when you are confronted by a barking, aggressive dog, and the memory of such an experience may make you wary of dogs you come across later in life. The hippocampus is smaller in some depressed people, and research suggests that ongoing exposure to stress hormone impairs the growth of nerve cells in this part of the brain.

HOW DOES TREATMENT HELP?

Amygdala: "The amygdala is part of the limbic system, a group of structures deep in the brain that's associated with emotions such as anger, pleasure, sorrow, fear, and sexual arousal. The amygdala is activated when a person recalls emotionally charged memories, such as a frightening situation. Activity in the amygdala is higher when a person is sad or clinically depressed. This increased activity continues even after recovery from depression."

Thalamus: "The thalamus receives most sensory information and relays it to the appropriate part of the cerebral cortex, which directs high-level functions such as speech, behavioral reactions, movement, thinking, and learning. Some research suggests that bipolar disorder may result from problems in the thalamus, which helps link sensory input to pleasant and unpleasant feelings."

Screenshot 2019-09-29 at 10.07_edited.jp

"Living with depression can be difficult, but treatment can help improve your quality of life. Talk to your doctor about possible options.

You may successfully manage symptoms with one form of treatment, or you may find that a combination of treatments works best. It’s common to combine medical treatments and lifestyle therapies, including the following:

Medications

Your doctor may prescribe antidepressants, antianxiety, or antipsychotic medications.

Each type of medication that’s used to treat depression has benefits and potential risks.

Psychotherapy

Speaking with a therapist can help you learn skills to cope with negative feelings. You may also benefit from family or group therapy sessions.

Light Therapy

Exposure to doses of white light can help regulate mood and improve symptoms of depression. This therapy is commonly used in seasonal affective disorder (which is now called major depressive disorder with seasonal pattern).

Alternative Therapies

Ask your doctor about acupuncture or meditation. Some herbal supplements are also used to treat depression, like St. John’s wort, SAMe, and fish oil.

Talk with your doctor before taking a supplement or combining a supplement with prescription medication because some supplements can react with certain medications. Some supplements may also worsen depression or reduce the effectiveness of medication.

Exercise

Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity three to five days a week. Exercise can increase your body’s production of endorphins, which are hormones that improve your mood.

Avoid Alcohol and Drugs

Drinking or using drugs may make you feel better for a little bit. But in the long run, these substances can make depression and anxiety symptoms worse.

Learn How To Say No

Feeling overwhelmed can worsen anxiety and depression symptoms. Setting boundaries in your professional and personal life can help you feel better.

Take Care of Yourself

You can also improve symptoms of depression by taking care of yourself. This includes getting plenty of sleep, eating a healthy diet, avoiding negative people, and participating in enjoyable activities.

Sometimes depression doesn’t respond to medication. Your doctor may recommend other treatment options if your symptoms don’t improve.

These include electroconvulsive therapy, or transcranial magnetic stimulation to treat depression and improve your mood."

MY EXPERIENCE

WITH DEPRESSION

TRIGGER WARNING: Self-harm, depression, suicidal idealization

Two years ago, in 2017, I almost gave up. I had panic attacks everyday in school and wound up in the big all gender bathroom stall every lunch, crying mascara down my cheeks until all that was left was trails of black. Some people would hear me crying but I felt so alone that I tried hard to muster my crying because I knew that people called me dramatic an someone who craved attention. I'm sick and tired of that stigma. People could come and ask me to come out even though they didn't often didn't know who I was. They saw me run to the bathroom crying and they would tell me to come out and hug me. Those hugs meant a lot even though sometimes they were uncomfortable.

Sometimes you would cry so hard your lungs started shuddering uncontrollably and it's difficult to get enough oxygen to your brain and the rest of your body and it escalates your panic attack that much more. I think this is the way that it goes for a lot of people, so that you can't remember exactly how fast the days went and how strong your feelings were but all your remember was numbness. That's what it felt like for me. Time felt slow. Everything took so much effort. I stopped enjoying the thing that I loved and felt out of place in the places I used to call home. 

Depression is something that fucks with every aspect of your life. It's not just a figment of the imagination. It's not just a tactic people use to get attention. It's an illness which is caused by chemical changes in the brain. You've heard in biology that our brain chemistry can be altered by our surroundings, and it's very real.

I was admitted to McLean Hospital on May 25th, 2017; one year ago today, and stayed there for a month. It wasn't anything like the horror movies. No shapes in white cloth. No one witnessing suicides. People were depressed and struggled with other mental illnesses, including addiction. Depression isn't always an urge to kill yourself, sometimes it's losing interest in the everything you loved, and sometimes it's giving up on a part of yourself because you feel as though you have a 400 pound monster that is sitting on your chest, crushing your lungs and taking away your ability to move. You're motionless. You're trapped. That's how I felt. The hospital was kind of like a camp in a way. You got to take nice private showers and you were never isolated unless you wanted to be. You had a roommate and a closet with lots of space. When someone moved out, there were always happy feelings for the person, but often times sadness because we would miss our friends, or even jealousy because we were looking forward to leaving. 

I met amazing people there. Inspiring people with incredible ideas. I was surrounded by sappy posters that said things like "hang in there" and "you are worth more than you believe", but those posters honestly gave me strength on the darkest days. There was a gym facility and I vividly remember having such an awful day that I ran for three miles, despite being very out of breath, but I got my anger out as well and urges of self-harm out and I was so proud. It was one of the first days I felt like I had truly made an improvement. 

While there are and always will be up's and down's to my recovery journey, I know that I have the strength to recover and get through anything, as do others who face depression.