Monday, May 12, 2008

The Serotonin Thing

I've told you before how, when we lived in Nevada, I was one depressed puppy. Brrrrr. I hate even to think of those months of downright scary, black-like afternoons in the desert.

Well, I may finally, 19 years later, have discovered the main reason for all that depression which just seemed to disappear with no medication or counseling.

Last week on tv I heard a doctor say that the one thing which all his hundreds (thousands?) of depressed patients had in common was--anger. Repressed, held-onto-over-the-years old-fashioned anger. And the amazing thing? He said anger stops serotonin from being formed/released in the brain and it's serotonin which we need to feel happy and content.

Good grief. All sorts of bells, whistles and lightbulbs went off in my head. 

I mean, when we moved to Nevada I was angry that Tom had moved us out into the middle of the desert (literally) in a trailer park which was just one big sand box (sand which pelted you on windy days and coated your scalp.) And Tom's job was 100 miles away in the desert, he'd stay out there four days at a time each week, so I was left alone with 8-year-old Naomi in this Godforsaken town where I knew no one.

I'll spare you the other (whiny, pathetic) details, but the anger built up on the inside. Yet on the outside? I just appeared sad. I cried a lot, attended a ton of pity parties  before Naomi would arrive home from school, after which I'd pull myself together and pretend to her that everything was just spiffy.

I wish I'd known about the serotonin bit way back then! I kept trying to look on the bright side (as 'They' urge) and count all my blessings and hold onto hope--all that good stuff. But what confused me was my inability to find any lasting peace. Those sorts of thoughts used to help snap me out of sad, bleak times, but they were useless at age 30.

Small wonder why now. It was all that 'hidden' anger sucking the serotonin right outta my head. 

It was my refusal to accept that my new life 'was what it was' and to let go of my need to control where I lived. To let go of the Past. To let go of unforgiveness, expectations and things being a certain way.

 Finally I understand why, without medications or counseling I 'suddenly' got better (I've always been a little confused by that). Over time, I did accept my current situation, that it was what it was and I spent time around real-live new friends from church, instead of attending those solitary pity parties. 

I gave-up having to control everything and instead, awoke in the mornings wondering and excited about where the day, and God, would take me. Oh, and we moved out of the desert to this old-fashioned Buffalo which helped tons, also. I arrived here ready to be happy in this new adventure.

Then eventually God really got a hold of me, shook some sense (and delicious freedom) into me--and changed everything. But the changes came only after I released the anger and the serotonin stopped vanishing.  And when I chose acceptance and to become moldable in God's hands.


"Let not the sun go down on your anger..."

"Choose you this day whom you will serve..."


And from a link which no longer takes us where it used to:

Even negative emotions and so-called sour moods can stimulate the secretion of cortisol and adrenaline and reduce the production of serotonin. Brooding about bad things that have happened to you in life, being irritable, or harboring resentment and anger all help sustain a stress-hormone response. In the long term, such bad moods can suppress normal DNA synthesis, reduce production of new brain cells, and reshape brain-cell connections in undesirable ways, helping set the stage for chronic depression or anxiety. 

- Jack Challem, Feed Your Genes Right: Eat to Turn Off Disease-Causing Genes and Slow Down Aging

Scary stuff!



smilnsigh said...

What a very interesting theory! I think I'll do some searching on that. See if this person has written a book on it, etc. Bet they have!

Thank you for a great search idea.


Dapoppins said...

I attended my favorite church yesterday, (not my home church) and was touched by God in so many of them was something like this! What a great post!

Anonymous said...

This is a very moving, tender post. I love the fact that you are letting people know of a real life experience you had with depression and how it resolved without medical drugs. Happiness, forgiveness, faith, love ... true healers all, and important for people to know.

For years I have used the line, "It is what it is." Funny thing, my husband also has said that for years. We enjoyed finding that out about each other soon after we got married.

Thank you for a lovely, inspiring, and thoughtful post. It is important to tell such stories.


Pat said...

I've lived under the "certain way" syndrome for most of my adult life. For me, it came from always trying to measure up to my parents impossibly high standards. I say impossible because they sacrificed family joy for perfection.
You are a wise woman to have figured all this out, anger indeed stops that much needed serotonin from flowing.
Lord, let that serotonin gush forth!!

Kelly said...

I'm am seriously convinced that we were made from the same mold!
Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post. It was what I needed to hear today.
I love this: "To let go of expectations that things must be a certain way.

Yup. You said it. Sometimes it's hard when you're being taught from a Word of Faith church how to create right expectations. I've always have trouble with that word...thank you for giving me another piece to the puzzle.

Kelly :)