Monday, January 23, 2012

My Brain is Just Fine

I listened intently to every word of a news story about depression on NPR this morning--the gist of it being that maybe the brains of depressed people really aren't broken, i.e. suffering from a chemical imbalance. That's an old idea, the story said; the whole lack of serotonin thing is a myth that just won't die. There's probably something going on with genetic predisposition, they said,  but there was an experiment where the subjects had the serotonin removed or deactivated from their brains, and they did not become depressed! How about that?

I've worried a lot about my serotonin. I felt better, in some ways, on anti-depressants, but I hate pills. Well, no, actually, I'm afraid of pills. The thought of side-effects is enough to turn me into a side-effectechondriac. Reading the disclosure on the medication I was taking was almost more depressing than being depressed. But I was really, really in trouble, and I knew it, so I took it.

Eventually I stopped. I was okay-ish. My divorce heartbreak was subsiding. But I still had a lot of negative stuff going on. The anxiety was killing me, but I didn't want to get back on the pills for a third run. (Third time might be an unlucky charm, right?) Finally I went to a therapist, and it helped a lot--which is what the piece on NPR claimed that talk therapy can work just as well.

So now, I'm thinking, my brain is just fine. My brain is fine. Yes, a ton of stuff has gone wrong since I was 16. (The litany goes like this: secret pregnancy that results in first child being given up for adoption, tragic car crashes, father dies suddenly, I'm hospitalized for twice for gruesome spinal surgeries, serious money trouble, two horrid depressions after subsequent children, years living with a man who wanted out but wouldn't say he wanted out while I pretended everything would be fine.) And yeah, everyone has a lot of stuff that goes wrong--some way more horrible than anything on my list, but maybe what I have is circumstances combined with a genetic predisposition, and I never have to worry about serotonin again.

I do feel I need to exercise full out every single day, take it easy with the wine, and just keep moving on down the road from Divorceville to Margaritaville, but as I make that move, it's good to think of  my brain as a lovely healthy brain.


Ms. Moon said...

After the experience I had in Mexico a few weeks ago, I know I CAN live without depression.
And so, baby-steps. Trying to learn how and why it happens.
Thanks for more information.
I am going to try and cherish this brain.

Birdie said...

I wish I could live without The Black Dog. I think the cause is just life. Life is so hard and it gets to people who are sensitive.

Elizabeth said...

I have a little sister that suffers from terrible depression, as did my mother and an aunt. I'm not sure what to think about any of it but not a day goes by that I'm not grateful for only having a tinge of it. I imagine our brains are as beautiful as we are, they are what we are and you are so beautiful, so your brain must be as well.

Anonymous said...

Genetic predisposition + bad circumstances. Works for me.

Jules said...

Unrealistic expectations

stephanie said...

I took anti-depressants for a long time. I finally gave in to doctor's requests (I, too, have issues with taking pills and reading side effects labels) because, well, I had sort of an episode and the drugs were needed. But then as soon as I started taking them, I did feel better. But was that psychosomatic? I don't know. I was finally able to ween off while I was in the program...I think because I was truly happy doing something I truly wanted to do...and now I feel mostly depressed all the time again. I'd always heard that doctors don't really understand how anti-depression meds work, so I'm interested in listening to this NPR deal. I've also heard that people think you can get progesterone from should probably question my sources.