How To Change Your Brain Chemistry Happiness and Brain Chemical Imbalance

brain chemistry happiness

Most people have no idea how many options they have for treating mental illness, and many people feel hopeless or stuck in their anxiety or depression. But modern imaging technology is allowing researchers to look into our brain in ways that was never possible before, and they've been able to see that you can actually change your brain's structure function and brain chemistry. By changing how you think and changing how you act.

This is called neuroplasticity. I feel like it's really important to help people access these mental health resources and education. This first chapter that i'm going to be sharing with you is on neuroplasticity. What that means and how that applies to mental health. So let's jump in. 

First Segment

In the first segment of this course we're going to talk about how changing how you think actually changes the chemistry, structure, and function of your brain .So, let's jump into this course and see what small changes you can make in your life that are going to make a big difference. This course has nine simple not easy but at least straight for ward ways to change your brain and one complicated one. 

This first segment is the most complicated one and changing how we think is really difficult. Now, of necessity we have to start with this one because it lays the foundation for all the changes that we're gonna make. So understanding how we can change our biology by changing how we think is really essential groundwork for understanding how the other nine principles can work.

So if this topic seems a little over whelming just stick with the course because it gets easier as we go on. So let's jump in. There are two ideas in psychology that have been proven wrong. The first one is that once we hit adult hood, our brains really don't change much, and the second one was that we can separate the psychological disorders, these problems in living, from the biological disorders, this chemical imbalance and so, someone might have depression and it's caused by a chemical imbalance. 

And the only way to treat that is medication and someone else might have depression which is caused by choices they've made and the only way to change that is by making them change their behaviors.

The Research of Brain Chemistry Happiness

So new research is showing us that our brain chemistry happiness does impact how we think, and how we feel, but how we think and how we feel changes our brain chemistry. This gives us more power and more influence over our lives to make them happier and healthier. So new imaging technology has changed our understanding of how our brain works.

 And new research in the field of neuroplasticity has shown us that our brains they don't even stop laying down the hardware until we're 25, but they can continue to change and grow and develop our entire lives. And this is called neuroplasticity, meaning that our brain is moldable and shapeable and changeable throughout our entire life.

The Story of Neuroplasticity

One of my favorite examples of neuroplasticity is the stories of people who are blind who have learned to navigate using echolocation. So they've developed the ability to locate objects in their environment using sound waves in the same way that bats do. This is an ability that their brains didn't have, but developed after they went blind.

It's really inspiring to see how much our brain Chemistry happiness can change and this applies as well to people with anxiety or depression or other difficulties, that thanks to our brain's ability to grow change and adapt throughout our life, we can improve our brain functioning and abilities in really dramatic ways.

This again I love this principle because it gives us room to influence our life we are the agents of our own lives and you can create the changes that you want to make in your life. It's become increasingly evident that biology impacts thinking, so this idea that you know you have a chemical imbalance that's causing depression, that's true that does happen.

Brain Chemical Imbalance

But it's also become more and more evident that the way we think impacts our biology. So if we consistently think hopeless thoughts, then we're going to be more likely to have biology of depression. So we might have what's considered a brain chemical imbalance.

Or we might have lower levels of serotonin or dopamine when we have these depressing or hopeless thoughts. So to understand what we're going to talk about in this segment we need to do a little bit of brains101. So there's four aspects of brain performance that we're going to talk about.

Brain structure, chemistry, function, and genetics, The first one is Brain Structure !

Amygdala and Hippocampus

amygdala and hippocampus

There are physical structures in our brain and each performs a specific function and we're not going to learn about all the parts of the brain for this course, but we're going to talk about a couple of them. Our brains are made up of distinct structures that change and adapt based on how we use them. For example, there's two structures in our brain that are impacted by depression. 

The amygdala is the part of the brain that processes fear and the fight flight freeze response, and in people with depression the amygdala has been shown to be larger and more active. Another part of our brain that's impacted by depression, is the hippocampus.

The hippocampus processes emotions and it's been shown that in people with depression. The hippocampus is actually smaller, it shrinks when people are experiencing depression. The really cool thing is that some recent research and multiple studies have shown that the hippocampus has the ability to regain its size after a bout of depression.


So in in patients who were experiencing depression they attend eight weeks of therapy and their hippocampus was measured before, and it was shown to be smaller. And then after therapy was measured and shown to be larger. So the hippocampus can change its size just based on something like talking with another person who's helping you change how you think. When it comes to brain chemistry, our brain uses chemicals to communicate and these are called neurotransmitters.

The main ones we're going to be talking about in this course are serotonin, which has to do with confidence and happiness. Dopamine which is kind of the reward chemical and pleasing chemical. Norepinephrine which has to do with decreased pain sensitivity and feelings of elation. Oxytocin which has to do with bonding and love, and GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid)  which is associated with anxiety and stress. Medication is not the only way to treat a brain chemical imbalance.

So while depression or anxiety can be seen on a chemical level inside the brain, that doesn't mean that your only option is to change those chemicals by adding chemicals to your body like medication. Now again I'm not against medication.

I often recommend go to see a doctor to get some some medication options. However, it's not the only way to impact our brain chemistry. So cognitive behavioral therapy changing how we think and act has been shown to be as effective as medication as a treatment for mental health disorders like depression and anxiety.

How we think affects our brain chemistry, so here's an example. If we interpret a situation like a work assignment as being threatening or impossible or overwhelming, then our brain releases chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol. Now people with depression and anxiety have higher levels of adrenaline and cortisol in their brains, and this this creates a heightened stress response, so a cycle of being stressed out about being stressed out and they tend to get more stressed out than the average brain, than a person who doesn't have depression.

It has been proven that with many people, if they are taught how to think differently about a situation how to interpret that work assignment as not being stressful or overwhelming, then the brain releases less cortisol and is less flooded with adrenaline and therefore creates a more healthy balance of chemicals inside of it. So we can actually change those stress chemicals, we can decrease the level of the stress chemicals in our brain, by changing how we think.

The 3rd Aspect

The third aspect of our brain that we're going to talk about very briefly in this course, is brain function. How we think changes our neural pathways so we think along these little neural channels and they're like roads and the ones we use the most become broad like highways.

The ones that we rarely use are narrow and thin and when we don't use them at all, they get trimmed off because the brain likes efficiency. So when we start thinking negative thoughts like this is hopeless or i'm no good or nobody's gonna like me. Then those pathways become thicker and broader and easier for the brain to send signals on.

We become habitual in thinking that way, and that shows up in our in our biology. But when we change how we think, and we start thinking hopeful thoughts, like I can do hard things or I can reach out and love other people and they're going to respond with love to me. Then those neural pathways become broader and wider and those physical structures in our brain actually change.

The Last Aspect

The last aspect that we're just going to talk about briefly is our genes. Now we know there's a genetic aspect to mental health and mental illness.

So depression tends to run in families and anxiety tends to run in families for many people this feels like we're predestined to feel the way we feel. Now, there's some recent research that's coming out that's really exciting that has shown that we have the ability to influence which of our genes get turned on and which of our genes get passed on to our descendants based on the experiences that we have. 

So how we respond to our experiences and how we think can impact which genes get turned off and this emerging field is called epigenetics. It gives us some degree of influence over a very impactful part of our mental health our genes. So therapy isn't the only way to change our thinking, it's just the one that has the most research behind it.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy 

Cognitive behavioral therapy has lots of research showing that it's effective for 65 or 70 percent of people, when it comes to improving their symptoms of depression and anxiety. And we know that it works because it not only changes how we think, but it changes the biology that's going on in our brains. There are other ways to change how we think things, like self-help and courses, and seminars, books, and and new experiences can all change how we think. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy is just one way that's been refined down to a skill that isa very efficient way to help people change their brain chemistry. Now I realize that this segment has kind of been more of an overview and if you'd like to learn one specific way to change how you think, check out this video I made on black and white thinking.

When we resolve black and white thinking, we increase our brain's ability to be healthy and happy. So, if you want to change your brain chemistry start changing how you think..

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