Friday, March 17, 2006

Help from a book

A friend of mine wrote last night, and recommended I get the book
"The Chemistry of Joy" by Henry Emmons. She said she found it
to be very helpful. So I went right out and bought it and read
over a third of it before bed. It helped quite a bit.

The first third of the book talks about depression from a Western
medicine view. He explained very well why the medicines stop
working for many people. Some people just don't manufacture
enough serotonin - they have no "reserves". Many people are this
way from childhood, due to genetics and environment. So when
anything bad happens, their body sucks up the small amount of
serotonin, and there is nothing left.

When there is no serotonin running around your brain, there is
nothing to calm you or make you feel good. Voila! Constant
depression. He also went through three major set of symptoms
and if they were caused by low serotonin, excess of domamine
and norepinephrine, or shortage of dopamine and norepinephrine.

I mostly matched the last one. Surprise! The drug I am on is
only for low serotonin. I did some research, and there is only
one anti-depressant that targets the dopamine/norepinephrine -
and that is Wellbutrin. I may be on the wrong drug!
I'll have to bring it up when I go in for a meds check with a
psychiatrist in early April. Not so far away - I can make it
that long, I think.

He also goes into diet advice for making more of the
neurotransmitters that you need. The drugs don't make more of
any of them, they just keep more of it circulating in your brain,
so you have half a chance of feeling good sometimes.
You know, I don't really have any Endorphins, either. My body
just doesn't manufacture anything that makes one feel good.

Everyone talks about the "high" they get from Endorphins when
they exercise hard. It never happens to me. My tattoo artist
said that everyone's Endorphins kick in from the pain while
she is tattooing, so the sessions aren't so bad. I went through
a 2 1/2 hour session, and they never kicked in. It was just
2 1/2 hours of pain. Stupid body!!!! I want "feel good"
chemicals just like everyone else has.

But I feel a little better, now that I understand what is
happening. I may not like it, but I can usually deal with things
if I understand them. The rest of the book looks at depression
from more Eastern points of view - Ayurvedic medicine, and
Buddhist mindfulness. There are various ideas on how to use those
ways to help.

If you suffer from depression, go get this book. It gives you
things you can do to help yourself, and not be such a victim of
your circumstances. A big thanks to my friend for telling me
about the book!


Steve Raymond said...

Today is Peace March Day in Eureka [CA] where I had the pleasure of joining many others from surrounding communities, in a gathering showing our passion over these important issues... point being, that while I was engaged in the various activities at the event, I forgot for those two hours how depressed I had been feeling beforehand. That's all.
Best ~

Susan Grandys said...

It does seem true when I am fully engaged in something outside of myself - I forget to be depressed. I can't maintain that level of engagement, though - so then there is all of the rest of the time.
That's the hard part :)