Our bodies are mostly made of hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. How amazing that these elements combine in numerous and seemingly miraculous combinations. In the brain, researchers believe there are more than 100 neurotransmitters, chemical messengers of information. Eight of them are most common and include adrenaline, dopamine, serotonin, histamine and endorphins.
Major depression occurs when chemicals in the brain are out of balance in relationship to the receptors available. Whether neurons flood more of a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) than is necessary or the release is too low, this unhealthy level may affect energy level, sleep, appetite, mood, and lack of motivation. A variety of medications address different neurotransmitters.
For me, finding the right combo of antidepressants to address what’s going on in my nervous system is a long slog of initiating what we hope will work, experiencing a therapeutic dose, and weaning off if it’s not effective. Ugh. I hate it. This is what causes me to procrastinate seeking treatment; this and locating a competent provider who is a non-alarmist. In the past, I was enough of an alarmist for both of us. Now, I need a prescriber who gets that I get what’s going on and want to get on with it. After a number of years, an antidepressant loses its efficacy and… don’t get me started.
When a devastating trauma drops you right in the soup, though, it seems to be injurious to the brain and nervous system beyond a chemical breakdown. Sleep, self-care, and medical treatment are essential to healing, but what to do when those steps are not sufficient?
Despite 30 years of dealing with major depression and general anxiety disorder, including years of treatment, and supplemented by my Master’s Degree in counseling, I treat myself as though how well I heal from mental illness is a measure of how hard I’m working at it. If I’m not recovering after two years, what must that say about me? I’m sure if I was following through on every piece of helpful information, I’d be experiencing great improvement.
How can it be that, although I can explain clearly how neurotransmitters affect mood, energy level, etc., I still blame myself? Why do I feel responsible? Well, friends and family have taught me over the years that I am too hard on myself, holding unrealistic expectations. Do I extend the same grace to myself as I would to a suffering friend?
I’ve restarted counseling with a new provider. We’re going to work on acceptance. I plan to be really good at acceptance.🤭