Tag: Love and mental health

Discussing Mental Illness with the Person You’re Dating | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness

Telling a new partner about your mental illness can be scary, but it is a necessary step to have a healthy relationship. If you’re unsure when and how to bring it up, here are a few tips. 
— Read on www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/February-2019/Discussing-Mental-Illness-with-the-Person-You-re-D

Love, Joy and Happiness

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We all know that are many varied reasons why people suffer from anxiety disorders and depression disorders. These reasons can include trauma, genetics  and the environment. But one of those causes also include the lack of essential mood chemicals such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and oxytocin. Though, some researchers say that even the level of mood chemicals alone may not explain why some people live with anxiety and/or depression disorders. Part of it is brain’s structure as well.

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In a study published in The Journal of Neuroscience, researchers studied 24 women who had a history of depression. It was found out that these women had hippocampus that was 9% to 13% smaller than women with no history of depression. When facing events that causes anxiety/stress, it reduces the production of new neurons (nerve cells) in the hippocampus (What Causes, 2010). The hippocampus is one of three segments of the brain that regulate feelings of reward as well of the development of love (Your Brain n.d.)

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In addition to the hippocampus, the hypothalamus is another part of the brain that is responsible for the “flight or fight” part of your brain.  In addition to that responsibility, it is responsible for producing hormones for body temperature, hunger, mood, release of hormones from many glands, especially the pituitary gland, sex drive, sleep, thirst and heart rate (Hypothalamus, 2015). Heck, even neurotransmitters such as dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and serotonin are produced here (Your Brain, n.d.).  However in regards to anxiety disorders, the real problems lie in another segment of the part of the brain: the amygdala. The amygdala is responsible for emotions, emotional behavior, and emotion (Limbic System, n.d.). In fact, this is where “fear conditioning” is produced. Fear conditioning is a type of classical conditioning in which people and animals learn to fear certain objects or situations. The idea behind this is if an animal or a human is shown with a harmless stimulus at the same time as a negative one, he will learn to fear the stimulus by itself (What is,). So how is this part of the brain able distinguish a stimulus?  The amygdala is able to distinguish this through its dual sensory input system. It is connected to many parts of the brain; one of them includes the hypothalamus (Limbic System, n.d.).

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So again referring to the hypothalamus, the hypothalamus contains hormones that respond to stress like corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH) and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) (Balestrieri, Bazzocchi, Bramibilla, Canalaz, Como, Crivellato, Meduri, Perini, Ragogna, Terlevic, Tognin, Travan, & Zuiani, 2013). The two hormones lead to the secretion of cortisol, the last and final hormone, which is found in adrenal gland (Balestrieri et al, 2013). Cortisol is responsible for its interference with learning and memory, lower immune function, bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure and cholesterol (Bergland, 2013). If you are in a stressful situation, your body goes into of course the “fight or flight response.” Cortisol “increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain’s use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues” (Chronic, 2016).  It also causes your body reduce certain functions that may be in a way in a fight or flight situation. It affects the immune system responses, and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes (Chronic, 2016). In addition to that, it “talks” to certain parts of your brain (e.g. amygdala) responsible for creating mood, motivation and fear (Chronic, 2016). So for someone like myself with generalized anxiety disorder who has experienced many stressful stimulus and has not known how to deal with them, even in the most harmless situations, I have way too much cortisol that is needed. That could also explain why I get really tired after I am stressed out, why I can have bad colds and why sometimes the period can be very painful. It all makes sense now…. Go figure.

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When parts of the brain are in order, so are the hormones that regulate it. And when the hormones are in place, so are you and your everyday encounters. For example, anxiety and depression can be caused either due to low or unbalanced serotonin levels (The Biochemistry, n.d.). When serotonin levels are restored, anxiety can be reduced (The Biochemistry, n.d.). So when you take you antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), it helps to prevent those few serotonin from being reabsorbed in the nerve cells of the brain (Selective, 2015). An increase of oxycotin helps to bring about optimism, increase self-esteem, and build trust (10 Reasons, 2012). Even a hug can bring about more oxycotin, due to the bond an individual receive from another person.  Norepienphrine can help restore energy and bring back anxiety and stress to a “normal” level” (The Biochemistry, n.d.).

In conclusion,love can make a body good. When you receive love, you want to be able to give back that love in return. There is just something reassuring to feel you are worth someone to some. Even for a moment of time, even from my experiences, your anxieties are put aside to comfort another individual.

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you  courage.”

— Lao Tzu

Resources

Anxiety Disorders. (n.d.) In National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Retrieved from http://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Anxiety-Disorders

Balestrieri, M., Bazzocchi, M.,  Brambilla, P., Canalaz, F., Como, G., Crivellato, E., Isola, M., Meduri, M., Perini, L., Ragogna, M., Rambaldelli, G., Terlevic, R., Tognin, S., Travan, L., Terlevic, R., and Zuiani, C. Decreased Hypothalamus Volumes in Generalized Anxiety Disorder but Not In Panic Disorder. (2013) Journal of Affective Disorders, 3. Retrieved from file:///C:/Users/Chidi/Downloads/Decreased_hypothalamus_volumes_in_genera.pdf

Bergland, C. (2013) Cortisol: Why “The Stress Hormone” Is Public Enemy No. 1. Psychology Today online. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201301/cortisol-why-the-stress-hormone-is-public-enemy-no-1

Chronic Stress Puts Your Health At Risk. (2016) Chronic Stress Puts your Health At Risk. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037

Depression. (n.d.) National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Retrieved from http://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Depression

Dvorsky, G. 10 Reasons Why Oxytocin Is The Most Amazing Molecule In The World. (2012) Retrieved from http://io9.gizmodo.com/5925206/10-reasons-why-oxytocin-is-the-most-amazing-molecule-in-the-world

Hypothalamus. (2015) In Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002380.htm

Ignotofsky, R. (2013). Your Brain In Love [art print]. Retrieved from https://www.etsy.com/listing/176998690/your-brain-in-love-anatomy-poster

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. (2016). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/ssris/art-20044825

Skin Hunger: Why You Need to Feed Your Hunger for Contact (2015). Psychology Today online. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/lifetime-connections/201501/skin-hunger-why-you-need-feed-your-hunger-contact

The Biochemistry of Anxiety (n.d.) Calm Clinic. Retrieved from http://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/biochemistry-of-anxiety

What Causes Depression? (2009) In Harvard Health Publications. Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/what-causes-depression

What is Fear Conditioning? Wisegeek. Retrieved from http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-fear-conditioning.htm

Wright, A. (n.d.). Amygdala-General Considerations. Neuroscience Online (6) Retrieved from http://neuroscience.uth.tmc.edu/s4/chapter06.html

Your Brain on Love [infograph] (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.meetmindful.com/articles-love-your-brain-on-love-infographic/#

 

 

Your Body In Love

Butterflies…

The flutters…

Heart pounding…

Giddiness…

The sweaty palms…

These are just a few terms people describe when they meet that special someone. But what causes these physical effects of love? If you look at the infograhpic below, it will show you what your body goes through when you are in love!

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Reference

This is your body in love [infography]. (2015) Retrieved from URL http://www.medicaldaily.com/pulse/your-chemical-romance-how-love-connection-can-change-your-bodys-chemistry-325356

The Chemical of Love

Is chemistry important in love? Yes…well at least in biochemistry behind love. And we all know what what that hormone is…oxytocin! Oooo la, la! We’ve all known how love makes us feel, but not much has known about about it affects biologically…

Did you know that…

  • Five minutes of rhythmic stroking releases oxytocin, and can lead to a 3 hour reduction
  • The release of oxytocin can block production. Individuals benefit from this process as stresses and anxiety are temporarily alleviated.
  • The release of oxytocin can generate sentiments of comfort and security which enables ‘trust’ amongst social scenarios leads to people to being very trusting of one another

So  you wanna know more how this little molecule affects you in a big way when you’re in love? Just read the infograph below:

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Reference:

Oxytocin: The Love Molecule [infograph]. (2010) Retrieved from URL http://visual.ly/oxytocin-love-molecule

 

Love and Mental Illness

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Dude, I think I have the love bug… Like for real. Not lust, not puppy love…. Like love, love dude. It’s frickin amazing… Like I can be myself around boyfriend, any more  than he can be himself around me. Let’s call him, “Marc”. We can be in each others presence, even if we don’t say anything in that moment, it’s wonderful! He knows that I can be independent and not be clingy and that I care for him whether I am with him or not. Marc likes the fact I can be dorky like him and still be driven to succeed. He trusts me anymore than I trust him! He knows he can trust me, not to cheat on him. Pssssh….Like I do that! I’d rather be single than cheat!

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I can be vulnerable and transparent with him and in doing so it helps me to grow and love myself. I usually don’t reveal my weaknesses and fears with people. I don’t feel self-conscience or finding myself think, “Can I trust him? Does he still like me? Is he trying to play me? Am I rebound?” It feels good not to be overthinking and just focus on the moments I have with him. Think about it as a sort of form “mindfulness”activity. My anxiety reduces and so does my depression when I am with him. Sometimes I feel even when I take my anti-depressants, I can still feel hints of my depression. But with him… nothing…nada…zilch!

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And most importantly, we’re on the same page! Let me tell you being on the same page is IMPORTANT ! Whether it means having the same values,religious identity, being married/or having children, lifestyle goals, having sex or not having sex, make sure it’s something you can BOTH agree on. The last guy I dated was a total bum! Let’s call him “Jake”. He didn’t bother looking for a job,  he kept losing his cell phones, and he lost his social security card. But during that time, I was very into him. I mean Jake was cute! When we “met”on an online dating website, he was you know…”charming”. He had the same interests as I did, he seemed to be motivated…Jake wanted to be electrician or…was it an EMS? Either way  he was “thinking” about his career. He looked like he was “getting” his life together, while he was still living in his mom’s house. Jake would call me or text and see how I was doing and “seemed” interested in my goals and dreams.In the meantime, he “enjoyed” being with me and our make out sessions. Until just the one day we met in person, he told me “I can’t have a relationship with you.”

“It’s not you, it’s just that I am still trying to get over my long term relationship that I had 3 years ago.”

Then Jake droned on how he loved her, but he did something that completely screwed up the relationship. He’d tried contacting her, but she didn’t respond back to him. He then said that’s the reason why he doesn’t want to be in a relationship with me. Jake’s still “in love” with her and can’t imagine being with anyone else. He felt that his heart  was blocked off to emotions and/or having a relationship with any other woman.

Really??? Now he tells me me this, especially when I clearly put on my online dating profile, I am not driven by sex and I wanted be in the relationship. What the f**k man?!?! Stupidly, I thought me and Jake could be friends even, but we’d end up making out. One day I finally said, we should just be friends. But he said to be friends….with benefits. Oi. Eventually, I ended the relationship. Though I always did wonder….was Jake wanting to get back with his ex because he was truly sorry or  is he doing it to repair his ego? I mean the guy is playboy and he has been with many women. If I was his ex and I found out about his “activities”, that would have then really have a reason to stay away from him. Just sayin’…

So listen, you can’t have even have one thing…I mean ONE thing off! By being on the same page with your boyfriend/girlfriend, it makes the relationship work a lot more smoothly. Also, really, really pay attention to what your date is saying about themselves on a dating website and or in person. Otherwise, the relationship is over before it has even begun! The funny thing is that it feels as if Marc and I have been together for a long time, even though we’ve only been together 2 months. Then again we have known each other before, but it never started out the way we are now.

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We use to work in the same restaurant about 8 or 9 years ago and let me tell you… I would have never thought we’d be together and very intimate with one another. Marc was another person, not to mention he was very young (he is  2 years younger than me). And as for myself, I was dealing with a lot family obligations. When I think about it now, there would have been no way of me getting into a relationship! The funny thing was at that time he claimed he was my friend, when he really kinda abandoned me most of the time. I mean, Marc would complain about his problems and then tell me, that nobody care about him, especially when his, I guess, real friends weren’t around. Though when his “real” friends were around he’d be all super happy and he’d spend a lot of time with them. Then, I was to myself, “I cared about him, but it doesn’t seem he cares about me. Then what the hell am I to this guy??? Screw this!” I stopped talking to him for like what… 6 years? It was a long time. I did have a still small voice starting three ago telling me that I should talk to my ex-co-worker. I was like to my small still voice, “Are you fricken’ kidding?!?! After him putting me at the backburner, you want me to go back to him?!?! Heck no! To get hurt and abandoned me again?! Awww, helllll naaaw!” But that little voice said, “He’s in a better place with himself now. Trust me, all will be good between you two.” I still resisted and the debate between my inner voice and me went on…until May of this year.

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I messaged him on Facebook and he was already messaging me! He asked if we could meet up and I was like, “sure.”  When I saw Marc again after a long, long time, I gotta say… he gained a lot of weight, but despite that he kinda seemed different somehow. Before the end of our outing, he did ask me why I stopped talking to him. He thought I hated him, but told him I didn’t like him. I didn’t like how he didn’t find me valuable as a friend and in feeling so, I felt like I was a garbage disposer for his problems. And then once he was done venting to me, he would go back to his “real” friends. Marc then admitted to me that he was in a bad place with himself and he was very angry at time. And as life moved on, he experienced more hardships and tragedy in his family. Due to these circumstances, he got depressed and gained a lot of weight from overeating.

I was surprised when Marc revealed that to me and I admired his courage and bravery for telling me so! No guy that I have met and/or dated has ever revealed his mistakes and importantly, he walks that talk! Hell…even my dad never revealed his mistakes.This could have been the reason why I felt he was different… his presence, how he talked about and how he carried himself. I admired that quality in him…the desire and ambition to want to be his best self (mistake or no mistake). Oh, yeah…honesty and that he was pursing his master’s and doing an internship in like criminal justice … cannot forget about those. So it’s three main qualities I admired. And since that time, we have been talking to each other!

So in conclusion, it’s funny how life turns out and how love can help combat mental illness. I feel better, happier, and grounded. We’re on the same page, dang it!!! In addition, it finally feels to give love and get it returned to you! I don’t know how to express how much that means to me!