Medication and Brain Chemistry…
The assumption that medication is always necessary to change brain chemistry is erroneous. It may be the quickest or easiest method, but it is not the only way to alter brain chemistry and it’s not the safest either. We know that behaviors, diet, activities and thoughts can change brain chemistry negatively or positively. The choice to make their effects positive depends on your knowledge of the brain chemicals you need to change and how to change them.
We definitely recognize that some individuals will require medication and agree that some conditions cannot be addressed by lifestyle changes alone. Others may require medication initially, but are able to reduce the dosage or eliminate it all together once a brain healthy lifestyle is established and through medical supervision However, you should never, never stop or alter your medication without the advice of your physician.
Changing Brain Chemistry is an everyday phenomenon…
There’s hope to live differently because we manipulate our brain chemistry every day whether we realize it or not. We use food and behavior to cope with stress and avoid emotional pain as well as to promote positive feelings and achieve better performance. Ever grab a candy bar or ice cream to lift your mood or another cup of coffee to tackle that deadline? How about a glass of wine or beer to relax or even isolating yourself from other people for a night of much needed calm?
Growing up you may have heard it said that your body only craves what it needs nutritionally. However, the truth is that we tend to choose foods based on their chemical effect on brain chemistry and we usually choose things that create and worsen brain chemical imbalances. These imbalances dull the mind, weaken the body and cause needless emotional and perhaps even physical suffering. If we can learn how to choose differently, we could increase energy, increase mental clarity, increase concentration, improve quality of sleep, improve interpersonal relationships and have an overall sense of inner peace and joy.
Most people experience unbalanced brain chemistry at one time or another…
If you think you have unbalanced brain chemistry, you’re not alone! In fact, the majority of people suffer from some degree of brain chemical imbalance but most don’t even realize it. Some of those imbalances came from genetic or inherited factors and others are the result of significant trauma during the developmental years. Still others are the result of adult acquired behaviors such as poor sleep habits, poor eating habits, or poor decision making. But no matter what the cause of a brain chemistry imbalance, it can usually be helped by addressing a brain healthy lifestyle.
Moods and Performance
How much control do we have over our moods anyway? Is it possible to change our mood, or is it simply a matter of circumstance? And what about performance? Isn’t better performance really just about skill development or better time management? What part does brain chemistry play in this equation? Is it possible to change or alter moods or better performance by what we eat and what we do? We think so, and that idea is supported by a lot of scientific evidence.
When our brain chemicals are balanced, we feel joyous, energetic, confident, and optimistic. We tend to be creative and our ideas flow more freely.
When brain chemistry is out of balance however, we may feel depressed, anxious, sluggish, irritable, stuck and unmotivated. Many people have never achieved a period where their brain chemicals are balanced (except maybe by accident!) and are used to functioning within the restrictions of unbalanced brain chemistry. The line between mood and identity gets so blurred that we begin to identify too closely with how we feel rather than with who we are.
That’s the problem. Too often we have accepted our negative moods as "the way we are"; like it's part of our personality. The truth is, our moods are more often a function of unbalanced brain chemistry than anything else. We can learn to live free of negative symptoms if we just knew what would work for us, personally. Understanding your brain chemistry is so important to your success!
Obviously, circumstances do play a role in mood. Depression, anger, sorrow, stress, fatigue, and basically any human emotion are normal reactions to life situations. We need to experience these emotions because they are God given and part of our warning system and healing mechanism. But, we also need to be in a healthy state of mind in order to determine if these moods are an appropriate response to what we are encountering. Moods can be a direct result of how we have mismanaged our health and lifestyle, and in this case, balancing brain chemistry is the best solution to mood management and performance optimization.
Weight Control and Diet
Does this sound familiar?
“ I have struggled all my life with being fat. I’ve tried every diet there is and nothing works. Oh, I’ve lost weight before, but it isn’t a year before I’ve gained it all back and more. Do I just need to accept the fact that I am always going to be fat?”
The truth is, people face two types of weight gain, metabolic and/or biochemical. Metabolic is harder to address and people with metabolic issues need to set realistic goals for weight loss—being mean and lean is probably not a practical or realistic goal. While a family history of obesity increases your chances of becoming obese by about 30 percent, heredity doesn’t destine you to be fat. Genes may set the stage for being overweight, but your body weight is ultimately determined by diet, exercise and life balance and their influence on balanced brain chemicals.
Nevertheless, it is easier to address biochemical weight gain because this type of weight gain is largely caused of unbalanced brain chemicals that drive you to eat too much of the wrong things.
It is important to address weight loss in a way that will not cause more imbalances to your brain chemistry and to know your brain chemistry well enough to work with it to help you lose weight and keep it off. You may be able to lose weight in the short term ignoring your brain chemistry, but this neglect of the whole body system can hurt your mental health in the process; possibly increasing issues of anxiety and/or depression to only name a few.
REAL, LASTING CHANGE REQUIRES LOTS OF EFFORT. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES THAT LAST!
Brain Chemistry Plays a Role in Relationships too…
Ever wonder why the maintenance of relationships can be so difficult? Lots of times it’s simply because people are wired differently and other people are trying to change that wiring (which doesn’t work, of course!). Learning about the differences that can be associated with neurotransmitter levels and chemical reward centers will allow you to understand someone just a little bit better.