Why is it so hard to heal from depression?
Depression is a pervasive problem and extremely frustrating for many reasons.
Depression diminishes hope and motivation
Because of the way it affects the mind, if you’re struggling with depression you’re not only fighting an illness; you are fighting against yourself. Depression attacks the very things that make you, you. It alters your thoughts, your feelings and your desires replacing them with apathy and despair.
Without hope, there is little desire to fight depression because your mind tells you that nothing works anyway, so why try? This is not just on an emotional level, it occurs on a neurological and molecular level.
The frustration neuron
Our brains have a system of rewards that bring pleasure and helps us feel good.
When we experience something pleasurable, the neurotransmitter dopamine floods neural pathways in what’s often called the brain’s “reward center” which makes us feel good.
But our brains are instruments of balance, and we have another system that exerts a restraining force. This system, called the nociception modulatory system, is the key to how the brain modulates pain. The neurons in this system emit molecules called nociceptin that suppress dopamine. In effect, nociceptin is anti-dopamine. Nociceptin has been dubbed “the frustration neuron” and could help explain, on a chemical level, why we give up.
Disorders like depression and addiction may develop when these regulatory systems are not functioning optimally. If the brain is producing an abundance of nociceptin it neutralizes feelings of joy and happiness and restrains motivation.
The bottom line is that there is a valid neurological reason that a depressed person feels the way he or she does. It’s not just “in their head” or a simple case of needing to “snap out of it.”
Is there hope?
With the new insight in understanding nociceptin and its effects in the brain, scientists are in the process of trying to develop new chemical interventions to help restore balance.
In the meantime, there are things that we can do to help ourselves. A change in thinking can help repair malfunctioning regulatory systems and restore balance. Through MRI scans, we now have proof that changes in thinking cause significant, measurable changes in brain chemistry and functioning.
Furthermore, Dr. Bruce Lipton, a molecular biologist and former professor of medicine at Stanford University, elucidates how new developments in the science of epigenetics give us unprecedented hope that we can heal. Epigenetics literally means “above” or “on top of” genetics. It refers to external modifications to DNA that turn genes “on” or “off.” These modifications do not change the DNA sequence, but instead, they affect how cells “read” genes.
It was formerly believed by science that it is our genes themselves which dictate our traits – that our genes form who and how we are. The new findings are great news because it means that we can change many things about the way we are, including our mental, emotional, and physical health, by changing how we interpret events and situations which happen to us.
For example, Dr Lipton shows that if we interpret things in a positive way, we start living healthier and better quality lives, regardless of the genetic makeup we started with. A new attitude, positive or negative, sends new messages to the cells in our body and can actually reprogram their health and behavior. It can even change cellular structure, turning diseased cells into healthy cells.
Hope for Healing
The initial step in healing from depression is feeling a glimmer of hope that healing is actually possible. Without hope, there is little desire to fight depression because your mind tells you that nothing works anyway, so why try? The purpose of this article is two fold:
The first purpose is to validate that depression is real. There is a valid neurological reason that a depressed person feels and acts the way he or she does. It’s not just “in their head” or a simple case of needing to “snap out of it.”
The second purpose is to offer hope that it is possible to cause significant, measurable changes in brain chemistry and functioning by making conscious changes in the way we think and act.
Is there hope for healing?
Are you ready to “choose out” of depression?
No one “chooses into” depression. Nobody wants to enter into the world of depression and anxiety; it is thrust upon them against their will. However, no one is able to get out of the world of depression and anxiety without choosing to do something about it.
That doesn’t mean that depression is somehow your fault, it just means that it requires effort to overcome it. Whether that effort comes in the form of seeking professional help, consistently taking medication, following the principles and resources outlined throughout the Hope for Healing website or a combination of techniques doesn’t matter, what matters is that a person has a desire to heal and takes steps to accomplish that goal.
Are you ready to “choose out” of depression?
If so, we’d love to be a part of your healing team. Please begin today by taking advantage of the following resources.
Help for depression
Depression is a pervasive and complicated issue, but you have more power than you might think. Alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety without medication.
“30 Days to Alleviate Depression: Backed by science. Verified by experience.”
Easy, step by step coaching guides you through each day explaining not only what to do, but why it works.
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