A Brief Explanation of Anxiety Depression and Mania

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It irritates me to no end when people ask me what I am anxious about or what is making me sad. It is about like asking a diabetic why he feels bad when his sugar is too low or high. For a diabetic, the pancreas creates and regulates insulin. In the brain, however, you have glands that produce chemicals such as Serotonin.

Forgive the grim analogy but for those of you who have seen the movie The Green Mile, you may remember that Tom Hank’s character rehearses the process for performing an execution in the electric chair. At one point they take a small, dry sponge and dip it in a bucket of water. They place the sponge on the prisoner’s head and then place an electrode over the sponge. This is among other things, a humane act because without the water the electricity would cook the prisoner and not very quickly. The water allows the electrons to flow across the little gaps in the sponge. The same way with the human brain, serotonin allows electrical impulses or synapses to occur between neuron receptors. Long story short. If your physical gland produces inadequate serotonin, then your brain has trouble feeling happy or well. That may help explain depression and manic a little but what about anxiety. Serotonin is the main hormone that creates just about all others in your brain.

There is a response called the Fight or Flight syndrome. It’s when your body is faced with a sudden challenge and your brain quickly needs decide to stay and handle the situation or run for protection. If you gave a diabetic too much insulin then you may trigger all kinds of crazy reactions, some similar to Fight or Flight. I have seen diabetics talk as if they were drunk or having delusions. I have seen them act exactly as if they were having anxiety attacks. It would be asinine to ask them what was wrong, why are you so crazy right now, is something bothering you. But this happens. I went to school with a diabetic who had an episode in class one day. He was talking nonsense to the teacher who was about to kick him out of class when they realized he was having problems with his diabetes. I could tell that even when they found out what was wrong that the teacher was still trying to calm down. He was mad about being spoken to like that and not being able to do anything about it.

The same is true for someone suffering an anxiety attack. The one thing that is true is that there are triggers to attacks. Just like someone who is claustrophobic panics in small spaces. You know he doesn’t immediately and completely feel better the moment he is not confined. Why not? Its because the hormones are still adjusting to what just happened.

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