SAD (Stress, Anxiety and Depression) and Understanding Neuron Communication

There’s nothing more complicated than emotions – sadness, stress, anxiety, depression. How do you control them? How do you deal with them? How do you keep these emotions from negatively affecting you?

Research is ongoing but more has been done to find the link between our brain, emotions and how healthy we are.serotonin-neurons-baucominstitute-stress-anxiety-depression-blog

One way to approach this complicated connection is to understand how it all works.

There are as many as 40-50 different chemicals in the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves that serve as neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitter molecules quickly travel the synapse to lock into protein receptor sites. When enough neurotransmitters are locked in to the receptors there is an electrical charge that is activated.

In the case of emotions and mental incapacities, these neurotransmitter mechanisms can go awry and the interactions between the neurons can become overactive or underactive. Both overactivity and underactivity can cause problems. Abnormal levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) are found in chronic stress, anxiety and depression.

When someone goes to the doctor and receives medication for one of these issues, the doctor is hoping to re-adjust the levels of various neurotransmitters in the brain that are out of balance.

SAD-stress-anxiety-depressionFor example, Prozac or some other antidepressant will be prescribed for depression where as Gabapentin or Neurontin will be prescribed for anxiety.

Where the rubber meets the road, specifically, is with three of the 50-odd brain chemicals called “neuroamines” – serotonin, norepinephirine, and dopamine. These chemicals are produced primarily in the brain stem and circulate throughout the brain. Abnormalities in these chemicals lead to pervasively high levels of two basic emotions: fear and sadness, which are driving forces behind stress and fear. For example, elevated levels of norepinephrine are associated with chronic stress and anxiety disorders including panic attacks and phobias. Decreased levels of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine are thought to be involved with depression.

We’ll break this down more next blog and how emotions are the driving force that create SAD – stress, anxiety and depression.

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