Brain Chemicals in Anxiety, Depression and Stress

The last post about tending the mental garden, was one way of looking at managing (or reacting) to our internal thoughts, which also have an affect on our physiology. Specifically, what we think CAN and DOES affect our brain chemicals. 

It's estimated that nearly one in five americans are currently using psychiatric drugs, drugs that alter brain chemistry. The majority of these drugs directly affect serotonin levels. From my experience, I feel that our brain chemistry may become compromised in these ways: 

1. Negative thought patterns (and the stress that goes with it)
2. Diet lacking in nutrients to support serotonin production
3. Balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut (which can affect brain chemicals)

1. First off, how do thoughts affect brain chemicals? Well, to my knowledge, scientists don't quite understand this yet, but they do understand that there is a correlation.  Here are some articles about how serotonin (one of the key chemicals altered by psychiatric drugs).  The short version: changing your thoughts CAN change your serotonin levels, and vice versa. 

BOOSTING YOUR SEROTONIN ACTIVITY
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/prefrontal-nudity/201111/boosting-your-serotonin-activity

SEROTONIN TIED TO OPTIMISM
http://psychcentral.com/news/2007/12/17/serotonin-tied-to-optimism-and-depression/1671.html

HOW TO INCREASE SEROTONIN WITHOUT DRUGS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2077351/

Studies also show that exposure to bright light can boost serotonin. So, get outside and enjoy some sunshine!!

2. There is also a connection between nutrition and serotonin levels:

SEROTONIN AND THE CONNECTION BETWEEN FOOD AND MOOD
http://nutritionwonderland.com/2009/06/understanding-bodies-serotonin-connection-between-food-and-mood/

NUTRITION AND SEROTONIN
http://www.livestrong.com/article/73028-nutrition-serotonin/

In addition there are also nutritional supplements that may help boost serotonin levels. These are 5-htp, SAMe, and St. John's Wort.  Here's what Dr. Andrew Weill has to say about these:

SUPPLEMENTS TO BOOST SEROTONIN
http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA76842/supplement-to-boost-serotonin.html

3. Last, but certainly not least, is the connection of our GUT BACTERIA (and probiotics) to serotonin levels. Why is this important?

According to Wikipedia:
Approximately 90% of the human body's total serotonin is located in the enterochromaffin cells in the alimentary canal (gut), where it is used to regulate intestinal movements.[7][8] The remainder is synthesized in serotonergicneurons of the CNS, where it has various functions. These include the regulation of mood, appetite, and sleep. Serotonin also has some cognitive functions, including memory and learning. Modulation of serotonin at synapses is thought to be a major action of several classes of pharmacological antidepressants.
So, ninety percent of our serotonin is produced in the gut.  This means that gut and digestive health is paramount to serotonin production...and, healthy bacterial balance IS paramount to having healthy gut function. Serotonin in the gut is a two way street! Gut function affects serotonin production AND serotonin levels can affect gut function.

A GUT FULL OF PROBIOTICS FOR YOUR NEUROLOGICAL WELLBEING
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110705210737.htm

PROBIOTICS: A SURPRISING WAY TO BEAT STRESS
http://www.more.com/health/healthy-eating/probiotics-surprising-way-beat-stress

THE ROOT CAUSE OF ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION THAT FEW SUSPECT
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/05/03/probiotics-impact-brain-performance.aspx

THE GUT'S SECOND BRAIN INFLUENCES MOOD AND WELLBEING
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/gut-second-brain/ 

THAT GUT FEELING
http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/09/gut-feeling.aspx

PROBIOTICS CHANGE BEHAVIOR IN MICE
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2011/08/29/from-guts-to-brains-eating-probiotic-bacteria-changes-behaviour-in-mice/#.UysRYijUMec

I also HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book, it has helped me immensely. Donna Gates approaches gut health through diet, killing off bad bacteria and candida fungus in the gut and adding probiotics. This was challenging for me as it required changing the way I eat from the ground up, but I can tell you it has been WORTH IT.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Body-Ecology-Diet-Recovering/dp/1401935435

and finally, here is a sound therapy track for serotonin stimulation.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALoQcp4ZX9U&noredirect=1

For sound downloads click here.
Just a personal note: There is nothing new under the sun. I am just attempting to present info. here that has helped me. I hope to present it in a clear way based on my experience with anxiety which was a spiritual, psychological and emotional awakening for me. In retrospect of this experience I have been reading as much as I could to come to a deeper and more grounded understanding of this seemingly mystical thing that happened to me (so that I could share it with you). I'm not a doctor or a scientist. Please know this is only my experience. Yours will obviously be different, but since my experience was so similar to others I've talked to, I am hoping this may be helpful or useful to you in some way. It's also a way that I hope to share the love with you. That is my purpose here.



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