Over the many years of keeping up with treatment trends and scientific discoveries in the field of anxiety disorders, I’ve found it especially interesting to see all the “newer” attention on the brain.
Initially, when people were told that emotional and/or mental issues were “all in the head,” it was inferred that we could or SHOULD think or feel differently; there was little basis to assume that physiology or biochemistry was at fault. There was shame and blame felt.
SO, when science started pointing a finger at faulty chemistry in the brain, many were downright relieved. “Aha! See? It is not my fault! It’s just like DIABETES!”
Is it that simple?
I don’t think so. A chunk of info has been left out: Every thought we think affects our brain chemistry!
We DO have some “control” or some responsibility for what is seen going on in our brains.
Of course, that is oversimplified. A brain injury, for example, isn’t changed with a simple thought, per se.
However, mood and emotion, and choice in response, is still the mandate of the conscious mind.
I won’t go into more detail here, except to say that I bring this up to point out a new way to think about our situations with anxiety. We are more than our brain chemistry, and pharmaceuticals are simply NOT the ONLY route to affecting change in it. Perhaps I can find some interesting links to share in the future, that better explain just how brain chemistry is modulated by our thinking and actions (as opposed to simply assuming pharmaceuticals are the only way). Just think about a sucking on a lemon slice for a while, and you’ll soon see how your brain just sent a message to your salivary glands to turn on, even though you have no lemon at all….
Of course, medication can be helpful. I know because I take some myself!
But, in my humble opinion, I must continue to oversee and witness my thoughts and to take great responsibility for my reactions, decisions and even mood. I can take responsibility for my brain health, too, with proper exercise and very specific nutritional choices. I can make a huge difference in my brain’s activity AND I can override any genetic predisposition. Genetic expression is not a given.
In any case, what good is shame or blame? There isn’t a person on the planet who will not come face to face with challenges, insecurities or “issues.” We are on equal footing, and there is no shame in being anxious, any more than there is shame in having diabetes.
And, to me, it isn’t because of supposed faulty biochemistry that I am off the hook. It is because I am a human being, experiencing a chance to grow and better myself—–just like everybody else.