SAD – How Emotions Drive Stress, Anxiety and Depression

In the last blog, we looked at the chemical reaction in our brains, specifically with three of the 50+ communicating chemicals called “neuroamines” – either too much or too little can lead to either end of the spectrum of emotional issues i.e. panic attacks, depression, etc.

In this blog, we will go into more detail on how emotions drive us to stress, anxiety and depression. We have what are called “Three Brains” – the cerebral cortex, the limbic system and the brain stem. Here’s the process of how these three interact and produce the chemical reaction with emotions:

Thinking

Cerebral Cortex – the front lines where information is taken in. When we experience or perceive something, we think about it.

Limbic – When our thoughts are produced, they are then sent to this system where the hippocampus assigns any memories we have of this experience/perception and the amygdala help assigns an emotion to that thought.

Brain Stem – When an emotion is assigned, the brain stem then regulates the body’s response to that emotion.

What emotions do you struggle with?

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.

What is a takeaway that helps you from this blog?

The Brain and SAD (Stress, Anxiety, Depression)

At Baucom Institute, we focus on the needs of the body to function properly like what we eat and how we supplement what we eat.

Over the next several weeks, we’ll be addressing how the brain, its functions and needsdepressed man sitting in the tunnel, are related to SAD – stress, anxiety and depression.

With the medical community using the prescription pad as the answer to helping patients deal with these issues, it’s time to educate the public about the facts and the options to chemical treatment.

First, let’s address the brain and the areas that are affected by SAD:

Amygdala - Part of the limbic system which controls mood, memory and hormone production and actively assigns negative emotions like fear and anger to our thoughts and perceptions; where negative emotional memories are stored and recalled.

Basil Ganglia - Located under the frontal lobes of the brain, the basal ganglia are connected to the frontal lobe cortex which helps movement, thinking, memories and emotions; studies have shown it atrophies with stress, anxiety and depression.

medical  doctor with brain3d meatl in his hands as conceptPrefrontal Cortex - The front most part of the frontal lobe cerebral cortex helps regulate thinking and reasoning, decision-making, and expression of emotions; stress will cause the prefrontal cortex to shut down and actually shrink as well as lessen metabolism.

Hippocampus - Located under the right and left temporal lobes right behind the amygdala, the hippocampus plays a central role in encoding long-term factual memories, works with the amygdala in creating emotional memories; it will reduce in size with chronic stress, anxiety and depression.

Hypothalamus - The nuclei of the hypothalamus will be altered in chronic stress, anxiety and depression which negatively impacts the pituitary master hormones, affecting the functioning of the entire body and brain.

Next time, we’ll address understanding neuron communication and how stress, anxiety and depression affect neurotransmitters.

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