Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that is related to depression. It is thought that those with depression are lacking in serotonin. Some antidepressant medications block the reuptake of serotonin leaving more available for use by the brain, thereby decreasing depression symptoms or so the theory goes.
Besides medication, which has been proven in clinical trials to have a significant effect on depression symptoms, there are anecdotal treatments some people say increase serotonin in the brain. These “treatments” aren’t always backed by scientific studies and should be discussed with your doctor before being tried especially if they involve any sort of supplement or exercise, but most appear relatively harmless and may even be helpful in relieving some depression symptoms in some people. These serotonin-producing ideas include the following:
Get more tryptophans from foods like lean meats, eggs, and dairy.
Get a massage.
Boost your vitamin B.
Soak up the sunshine or use a light therapy box.
Add more magnesium to your diet with dark, leafy veges, fish, bananas, and beans.
Be more positive, practice gratitude.
Reduce sugar intake.
Increase vitamin C.
Practice self care to reduce stress.
Keep a journal or practice some form a regular writing.
Don’t try to make all the changes at once, if it seems overwhelming. Tackle one or two items a month. Eventually you will get to feeling better and better and before you know it all of these things will become second nature, if you tackle them like a marathon not a sprint.
Play the long game. These changes are lifetime goals. You have all the time in the world to reach them, but start making them one or two at a time. You can do it and will be glad you did as you begin to feel better and better little by little until it adds up to be quite a lot!
It took me over ten years to get to some real solid stability in my bipolar depression. I did it by addimg a lot of coping skills and healthy habits to my life year after year. Trauma work in therapy and constant medication management was a huge part of it, too, but the anecdotal cures were essential and still are. They may be for you, too.
As always, comments are open for any questions you may have for me and for any shares you have regarding your experiences. Thanks for reading.
Depression affects the whole person. Not just our thoughts, not just our emotions, not just our behavior. It affects everything, including our physical body as well.
In a nutshell, below is how depression may present itself in these four areas.
thoughts of death and suicide
withdrawal from others
neglect of responsibilities
changes in personal appearance
lack of energy
sleeping too much or too little
weight gain or loss
loss of motivation
If you recognize these symptoms of depression in you or someone you care about, talk to a doctor about it. There is help for those who suffer from depression. I am one of those people. It is not the end of the world. There is life beyond depression. It does go away. Getting through it until it is gone is what you need help with. I can share my experience with you via my Facebook page here. Or feel free to comment below.
Social anxiety disorder is an anxiety disorder that causes people to be fearful of social situations where they might be embarrassed or judged. Psychological symptoms include self-consciousness when around other people, excessive worry about upcoming events where interaction will be expected, avoidance of places or events where people gather, and difficultly making friends and maintaining friendships. Physical symptoms include excessive sweating, difficultly speaking or catching one’s breath, a sensation of flushing, trembling or uncontrollable shaking, and nausea.
There are many behaviors people with social anxiety may do or not do in an attempt to cope with the overwhelming anxiety this disorder produces such as not talking because of being afraid of being judged, not being able to go anywhere alone, staying inside all day, hating when the teacher calls on you in class, avoiding eye contact with others, avoiding eating in front of others, counting money before you pay, not leaving voicemails, not asking for help when you need it, always preparing what to say ahead of time, being worried about running into people you know, going to the bathroom to escape, using a phone or some other crutch to avoid people, dwelling on a small awkward moment for much longer than necessary, never going to any social event without a person that makes you feel comfortable and following said person way too much, worrying about the person beginning to find you obnoxious, and faking an illness to get out of a social event.
Have you done any of these behaviors to deal with social anxiety? How else do you cope with your social anxiety? What are some positive ways to cope with social anxiety disorder?
Thinking about things is good, right? When we have important decisions to make we have to think about them before committing one way or another to ensure we are making the correct decision. We have to weigh the pros and cons, ask others for advice, sleep on it; you know, think about it. After all, thinking is one of the main things that distinguishes us from the rest of the animal kingdom.
Does there come a time, however, when thinking becomes a liability to our well being? I believe there does.
Signs of Overthinking
second guessing everything
analyzing things to death
expecting the worst
hating to make decisions
would rather someone else decide things for you
regretting things often
have a hard time letting things go
taking things personally
being a perfectionist
criticizing yourself a lot
never feeling one hundred percent certain
feeling like you can’t turn your brain off
What to do if you are overthinking
Journal – writing down your thoughts can sometimes take them out of your head and keep them out. It is worth a try.
Talk to someone about your thoughts – again the idea is to get the thoughts out of your head. The longer you keep them bottled up, the longer they will just swirl around in there.
Use positive distractions – engage in a creative hobby, something that gains your entire focus so you are no longer thinking about anything else except for the task at hand. Sometimes our thoughts just need to be interrupted by action, whether we feel like taking that action or not.
Are you an overthinker? I am. What do you do to deal with it? Leave a comment or message me on my Facebook page here.
Chances are you or someone you know has an anxiety disorder since it is the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting over eighteen percent of the population (reference). But do you know how to help that someone, or better yet tell others how to help you if you are the one who has the anxiety disorder?
Below are eight ways to help someone with an anxiety disorder.
Be predictable. Don’t surprise them. If you say you are going to show up at a certain time, be on time. Don’t change plans at the last minute or bring an unplanned guest to dinner or take them on an impromptu date or a spur of the moment trip. People with anxiety need time to prepare mentally and emotionally, as well as physically, for most events. Give them that time and notification well in advance.
Don’t assume you know what the person needs, ask them. How long do they need to prepare for events? Don’t guess. Ask them. When they are worried or stressed, don’t come up with solutions for them. Ask them what would help them at that moment or in general. If they don’t know then tell them you are there for them when they think of something, which brings us to number 3.
Let the person with the disorder set the pace for recovery. Don’t pressure them to get well quicker than they are able to. Don’t expect fast fixes or for coping skills to work perfectly every time in every instance. Recovery is slow and messy. It is not a straight forward moving process. It is some steps forward and many back and some more forward and back again. Eventually the forward steps out number the backward ones, but it happens over time, not over night.
Speaking of progress, it is best to find something positive in every attempt at progress. Meaning even if the attempt is unsuccessful that time, something positive should still be acknowledged about the attempt so as to encourage subsequent attempts in the future.
Take care of yourself first. Don’t sacrifice your own life wants and needs too often. This will only lead to resentments later on. It will do neither of you any good if you both are ill.
Don’t get emotional when the person with the disorder gets upset or panics. Keep a calm, cool demeanor, talk with a compassionate tone and when all else fails take a time out, telling the person you need to walk away for a moment to gather your thoughts, and come back when you can deal with him or her. If he or she is being irrational, sometimes it is impossible to rationalize with him. It is best just to validate his feelings (because feelings are not right or wrong, they just are) and keep him safe and see number 7.
Encourage them to seek out therapy. You are not a professional. And even if you are, you cannot treat your own friend or family member objectively. Most people with anxiety disorders need some type of professional help.
Finally never ridicule or criticize a person for being anxious or panicky. It is truly a physiological and psychological phenomenon beyond their conscious control in many instances that takes months, if not years, to figure out and overcome.
If you have any questions about anxiety disorders in general or panic disorders or complex PTSD, I have experience with all of them and would be glad to discuss. Leave a comment or contact me via my Facebook page here.
We all have rough days where we are tired, irritable, or anxious. Maybe we didn’t sleep well the night before or we have a big test coming up or deadline at work. Maybe the kids are acting up and your husband forgot your birthday.
Things happen that make us feel bad for a little while, but when these negative emotions last for more than a few weeks or more, you may want to consider talking to your doctor or a professional counselor about it.
Here are eight warning signs you may be mentally and emotionally exhausted:
You are easily irritated. Everything gets on your nerves and just kind of bugs the heck out of you.
You have no motivation to do anything even the things you usually love doing.
You are having anxiety or panic attacks, which include racing heart, rapid breathing, feeling like you’re going to pass out or die, or even less intense – just worrying incessantly about the same things over and over again and are unable to make yourself stop.
You are having trouble sleeping. You either can’t fall asleep, can’t sleep through the night, and/or wake up early in the morning before you have to get up.
You have little patience and lose your temper easily with family, friends and coworkers.
You start crying out of nowhere. Sitting at your desk, taking a shower, driving in the car just minding your own business and all of the sudden you burst into tears.
You feel detached from reality, meaning that you go through your day without really feeling a part of anything or connected to anyone. You feel numb like you are experiencing the world through a fog.
You feel empty. Although at times you feel strong emotions of anger, sadness, and fear, much of the time you actually feel void of any emotion. You feel like an empty vessel floundering in a vast sea of nothingness.
If you can relate to any of these signs, remember that you don’t have to go through this alone. I have been through all eight of these symptoms at one time or another. For me, talking to my doctor about them is the best way to ensure the symptoms do not get out of hand to the point of becoming dangerous to my well-being. I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding mental health, depression, bipolar, borderline personality disorder, and anxiety. Contact me via my Facebook page.
There’s solid evidence that expressive writing can be good for your mental health. I was planning on researching and quoting and referencing articles and telling you why and when and the how does it of it all, like this one: https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/boosting-your-mental-health-with-expressive-writing-0823185 but then I thought, you’re an adult. You’ve got the internet. I’m not going to reinvent the wheel and regurgitate other people’s articles, which by the way is one reason I hardly write here anymore. I feel like, “Eh, it’s been said, why say it again.”
Anyway, you can look up why writing can be good for you. What I am going to do in the meantime here is what is good for me: write! Not about my life. No. That is for my personal journal which is private. Sorry. Not that type of blog.
So, what am I going to write about then? I have no fricking idea. I’m still figuring this out. But I have a book of prompts. That could be helpful. I also have a list of different types of journals that we could go through together. I don’t know, what do you think? Let’s see where this takes us.
I’ve started this place on my phone where I keep blog post ideas and rough drafts because I have so many bits and pieces of information flying through my head at one time that I get completely overwhelmed at the thought of sitting down and writing something out.
I attribute these rapid thoughts to my anxiety disorder or to possible depressive symptoms such as the inability to focus or concentrate long enough to organize disjointed ideas into a single theme.
Then I get to thinking, is this it? Is everything always because of my mental illnesses? Is my difficulty writing or remembering or socializing or driving or losing weight or parenting or making friends all due to mental illness? How do I distinguish that which is part of my personality from that which is my illness? Are they one in the same?
I’m not going to pretend to have the answer and quite honestly this is not a rhetorical question. I would love for some feedback here because I have read on numerous occasions well-meaning memes that state “you are not your illness” when I think sometimes maybe I am.
Researchers have recently found a way to measure neural signals across regions of the brain that decode patterns that represent a person’s current mood. They did this by using the intracranial electrodes already inserted in seven patients who have epileptic seizures. They tracked brain signals across the electrodes and asked the patients to report mood symptoms. From this they developed a decoder that will predict mood variations over time based on brain signals.
Their hope is that from these findings a closed loop system can be developed to treat individuals with depression and anxiety who are treatment resistant to SSRIs, other medications, and standard therapies. This closed loop system would in theory be able to stimulate the appropriate neural regions of the brain needed to affect mood in a positive way in real time.
They think this decoding technology could even be useful for other conditions that are not localized to one area of the brain and are spread out through various regions like depression and anxiety are. Some examples include chronic pain, addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder.