How to Ditch Misery before it Mushrooms into Melancholy

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So you spot a friend rewarded for something you did without notice. Normal? Yes, most of us most of us struggle against jealousy on a regular basis. Or let’s say your best ideas go ignored, while lesser ideas grab center stage at a family get-together. Have you seen it happen? Most likely yes, more than you want to admit. Perhaps you tried hard to succeed at learning, and ended up failing miserably while friends aced the challenge. Did I just say misery?

How do choices determine moods?

How do choices determine moods?

Whatever caused you angst, your deliberate choices can leave you reeling from the shock, or can zap you into a refreshing new place that awakens restoration and yields to self-worth.  Is your brain near depression’s door today? Sadly – teens are using more drugs than ever before, and it’s getting worse. And we drift farther away from life-changing contentment that can come when your alarm  announced another new day! How so?

@ 2016 Ellen Weber

@ 2016 Ellen Weber

A Brain on Depression-Tribute to Trey Pennington

Fact is, your three-pound brain, with consistency of raw eggs, continually rewires for or against stress and depression on a daily basis. But did you know your brain can also fight back?

Medicinal therapies and natural alternatives increasingly improve in ways that raise serotonin’s well being fuels and reduce cortisol’s toxic attacks. The key is to become aware of depression’s stalking persistence.

Rather than lose hope – reach out to trusted others who crack you up or who may be stronger at the moment. Connect and communicate before you slip into mental toxins that work against your brain and can even damage your heart.

How will your brain help you today?

How will your brain help you today?

Awareness of Frontal Cortex Helps

Chronic melancholy cuts creativity, stifles proactive responses, and blocks living memories of better times, regardless of your fights against frumps? That’s how it wins victims like you and me – if we fail to choose and act on anything that leaves you feeling content, even on a dreary day.

Anxious people fear and dread the future, yield to mood disturbances, accept serotonin failure, and settle for imbalances within their brain’s frontal lobes. In contrast, the healthy brain’s executive function allows you to recognize future consequences from current thoughts and action, and choose wellbeing over wretchedness. For instance, you’ve likely noticed that when you reach out to thoughtful people, you begin to imitate their kinds of serotonin strategies that win back hope.

When despair deepens, on the other hand,  loss of creative responses result – so that you tend to choose against engaging the plasticity that rekindles your brain that could regain that hopeful perspective into your day. Luckily, you can find comfort in choices you generate simply from knowing these dark moments will pass and new hope will arise again over time. Let’s not underestimate misery’s horror, though.

Holidays can be the worst time for depression and loneliness to spawn! But it doesn’t have to be this way, if you create space for mindfulness, stress shrinks by default!

Change from Depression Can be Brutal

From a brain’s perspective, the process of changing moods can be brutal for adults stuck in mental ruts, since learning requires massive rewiring of vast cortical connections to move from depression to delight. Simply stated – every time you act from depressed responses your brain grows neural pathways for more of the same depressed responses. the longer you stay miserable, the more your brain will mash-up dreary with dreadful – and place bigger barriers  that prevent healthy choices in response.

By healthy choices, I mean approaches filled with hope – where new skills come into plastic competition with neural networks that developed deep ruts  into despair. See why the trends that led you into current quagmires of anxiety, emotionally or socially can be tough to snip over time?

No question – change can appear daunting at first. Those who engage even one neuro-discovery for sustaining mental health in spite of stressors, already cracked open hope –  worthy of a life-changing legacy, though. New windows exist in every choice you make for rejuvenation and excellence.  See how simple choices can grow into hope-filled neural networks, and displace depression’s paths? Let’s look at how your brain literally changes from misery into wonder.

The brain orchestrates over 200 kinds of cells with trillions of neural signals communicating hope or despair  in your cortex. The chemical and electrical circuitry observed through brain imaging, shows how brain chemicals seep through clefts in the brain and convert to electrical impulses.  These connection – both good and bad –  impact what you think and do. Your frontal cortex sways your reactions to life around you much like the atmosphere sways the ocean.

So will it be smile or sneer? Chemicals called neurotransmitters act as biochemical messengers, which generate learning, and act as stimuli to excite neurons or as inhibitors to suppress them. Drugs can stimulate or block synapses, another name for communication and electrical activity among neurons. You also tend to mimic those you associate most because of magic-like actions of mirror neurons – the  brain’s inner equipment to replicate what’s observed.

You’ll enjoy this recent study to show how the brain builds natural chemicals for well being in a powerful placebo effect.

Medical Fields Hold New Solutions too

In spite of revelations, malfunctioning brains continue to hide keys that unlock problems and reveal learning patterns. We know that drugs such as Prozak block depression, for instance. The key here is to consult with experts in the field, as some serotonin altering drugs also rob that adrenaline zing that helps you reflect deeply, design novelty, or connect ideas.  It takes trusted gurus to help you keep or produce the dopamine or other natural drugs of choice, that enable you to take good risks.

Before you succumb to stress’ traps – there are other choices that work in your brain’s favor. Physical exercise and good health increase oxygen, and other such serotonin builders also affect moods positively. Yet how or why moods brighten, is often less obvious.

Depressed Brains Differ from Healthy Brains

Unfortunately people stuck in misery tend to lack images that secure, comfort and console. Instead of hope for a finer future for instance, they see negative images only – or hear recriminating inner voices that plague and disturb their thoughts. How so?

Imagine yourself failing a test you prepared hard for. Instead of inner mental responses that soothe and show lessons about recovery from mistakes you made, dreary self-accusations shoot darts of fear, so you dread further disasters. And yet, while no cure exists for some forms of despair, hope increases and help moves you closer to a growth mindset when you bounce off a mistake into a life-lesson that alters your next step.

So what about the fact that determination alone is rarely enough for serotonin laden well-being, since despair is ruled at times by gene pools you carry, and at times by choices you make. Not surprisingly, brain researchers disagree on cures and causes for two common depressions.

The absence of depression is not delight though!  Happiness, or the sheer joy that guides your day comes from negativing the blues with a brighter light to shine hope onto your path.

Two Common Depression Roots

One kind, endogenous depression, originates from innate predisposition to mood disturbances. Victims suffer despondency, hopelessness or guilt over trivial triggers. Another kind, called neurotic or reactive depression, signifies external miseries like illness, death or loss that trigger gloom. In both cases, we have learned lessons lately.

You may be surprised to know that statistically more endogenous depressions are treated with mind altering drugs or anti-depressants. Reactive or neurotic depression is often treated with drugs in addition to psychological strategies that help people find more realistic views of their problems. People labeled psychotic when severe depression robs reality, still drop out. And even mild depression prevents some from cracking misery’s spells. But we can all learn more, and we also now know that DNA can be overridden by actions we take in the opposite direction, to build new neural pathways toward hope and health.

We know that rich inner lives help people to refine images and stockpile positive emotional responses to combat difficulties. While we can expect fears and worries, and will lack courage at times, we can learn to face futures with hope. Reflection helps us create a cache of positive images to block fear and deal realistically with negative events.

Brain breakthroughs remind us that human intelligence is in some ways as complex and difficult to understand as it was for Greek scholars. Homer’s epic poems in the eighth Century fail to mention doubt or depression since people in Homer’s stories simply lacked free will. They acted because of driving inner voices or were driven by gods.

Seek Help before Hope’s Light Dims Too Low

People are living longer and for some this means longer bouts with depression. On July 17th, 1990 George Bush suggested that North America, “enhance public awareness of the benefits to be derived from brain research.” Research continues to tap at doors yet blocks still prevent genuine cures for depression. Or we fail to say or do what really helps – before the risk of suicide.

Depression increases in toxic settings where cruel exchanges  or when a  friend lets you down after making a promise to help you. You may be headed toward the edges of mental health if feel too tired to leave home, you lack money to pay that phone bill you ran up, or you just slip into the blues for no apparent reason. Regardless of why misery strikes, we learn more and recover better when we know others who look for new solutions and coping tools within neuro and cognitive science discoveries. Did you know for instance, that left brain damage tends toward depression while right hemisphere damage can actually lead to manic cheerfulness?

All to say, as Leslie Hart, did in Human Brain and Human Learning, said: “With our new knowledge of the brain, we are just dimly beginning to realize that we can now understand humans, including ourselves, as never before, and that this is the greatest advance of the century, and quite possibly the most significant in all human history.”

When this new understanding benefits those who tank on a tough day, depression that can lead toward suicide, fades and the brain rewires through healthy choices to transform despair into laughter, learning into leading and pleasure into purpose.

Looking for tangible tools to turn stress into mental strengths? Then visit my TpT site here. Or check out popular tools that lower stress and raise personal strengths!

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Created by Ellen Weber, Brain Based Tasks for Growth Mindset