Depression – there is no more painful example of people being used by their brain…. Sufferers from depression feel victimized by a brain gone awry. pg. 61
Even though depression is classified as a mood disorder, traceable to the brain’s inability to react properly to inner and outer stress, it affects the whole body. pg. 61
Depression is caused by a “trigger,” but the trigger can be so small that it passes unnoticed. ….. You cannot shake a feeling of sadness, helplessness, and hopelessness, or become interested in anything around you. pg. 62
Suffers may feel that the key is genetic if depression runs in their family, or they may have a loose recollection of when they first noticed that they were sad all the time. …. To bring on a psychiatric illness, genes and environment work in concert. pg. 62
Acting as the leader of your brain, you can actively “reprogram” your own neurochemistry and even genetic activity, no longer indentured to mood disorders. … The key is to get the stuck or imbalanced parts of your brain to move again. pg. 63
THREE STEPS IN DEPRESSION
Once the brain has been trained, its responses feel normal. Sometimes depressed people have adapted so well that they are surprised when a friend, doctor, or therapist tells them that they are depressed. pg. 63
But when depressed patients get the right psychotherapy, talking through their feelings, their brains change in a way that resembles the changes produced by drugs. pg. 63
So let’s look at depression as a fixed behavior. Fixed behaviors have three components: pg. 64
1) An early outside cause, often since forgotten.
2) A response to that cause, which for some reason is unhealthy or unexamined.
3) A longstanding habit that becomes automatic.
What this tells us is that depression is a natural response that can go terribly wrong. pg. 64
When depression goes wrong, all three components are to blame:
1. Outside causes: Outside events can make anyone depressed. … If you subject yourself to enough stress over a long period of time, depress in much more likely. pg. 64
2. The response: An outside cause cannot make you depressed unless you respond in a certain way. People who are depressed learned long ago to have a skewed response. Six are offered on pages 64 and 65
The brain conforms to the picture of reality it is “trained” to see.
3. The habit of being depressed: Once you have a depressed response, it reinforces the next response when you face a new stress from the outside world. … Suffers turn the blame and fear inward. They keep having depressed responses, generated from the inside, and after a while these responses turn into a habit. pg. 65
Undoing the Past
Once a person’s depression turns into a “habit,”.. it no longer needs an outside trigger. Depressed people are depressed about being depressed. … Optimism is impossible. pg. 65
- If behavior can get you out of depression, it’s only reasonable to suppose that behavior can get you into it.
- One – stop exposing yourself to stresses that occur over and over, pg. 67
- Two – Avoid unpredictability of the stressful kind pg. 67
Trading Out Toxic Beliefs pg. 69
- It’s all my fault.
- I’m not good enough.
- Nothing will work out.
- I knew things would go wrong.
- I can’t do anything about it.
- It was just a matter of time.
Learning a new response forms new neural pathways in the brain. …. By introducing a new response, you resist the temptation to fall back on old, stale beliefs. pg. 70
Key – To put it simply, you alone have the power to create healing. pg. 71
Four decades of brain research have proven that the brain is transformed by meditation, and now newer evidence suggests that genetic output also improves with meditation. The right genes are switched on and the wrong ones are switched off. …. Until you can prove the usefulness of new responses and beliefs, the old ones will keep a foothold in your consciousness. pg. 72
Working Both Sides
Inner Work: changing what you think and feel – book lists 8 on pg. 72
Stop believing that fear is OK just because it is powerful.
Outer Work: Changing your behavior – book lists 8 pgs. 72/73
Learn to re-parent yourself by finding mature, emotionally healthy people who can love, who are accepting, and who do not pass judgment. pg. 72
The following material was taken from The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge M.D. on page 233.
“A study of depressed patients treated with interpersonal psychotherapy—a short-term treatment that is partially based on the theoretical work of two psychoanalysts, John Bowlby and Harry Stack Sullivan—showed that prefrontal brain activity normalized with treatment. (The right orbitofrontal system, which is so important in recognizing and regulating emotions and relationships is part of the prefrontal cortex.). A more recent fMRI brain scan study of anxious patients with panic disorder found that the tendency of their limbic systems to be abnormally activated by potentially threatening stimuli was reduced following psychoanalytic psychotherapy.” … “There is no longer any doubt, writes Dr. Eric Kandel, “that psychotherapy can result in detectable changes in the brain.” Recent brain scans done before and after psychotherapy show both that the brain plastically reorganizes itself in treatment and that the more successful the treatment the greater the change.