Depression/Anxiety: Brain Imbalance
February 16, 2015
Depression and anxiety are common threads among our culture these days. Our current medical model of treatment consists of pharmaceuticals to balance neurotransmitter levels. Yet, they often create other, more harmful symptoms than depression or anxiety. I guess the question I would ask, is it worth it? Much of Neurology is now considering inflammatory effects on the brain as a major contributor. In Functional Neurology, we are looking at imbalances within the brain, creating major shifts in Neurotransmitter levels due to a lack of activation within each half of the brain, challenging communication, or talking between the two hemispheres that can disrupt normal emotional response. Commonly, If you have fewer neuronal pools firing in the left hemisphere (half) function than right, you may be much more susceptible to anxiety and depression. If you have depression, you know it. It may be frustrating because others cannot see it, but you can feel it. With the development and improvements in Functional Neurology over the past 30 years, we have been able to understand and treat Depression and Anxiety with much higher efficacy, often limiting the need for medication and more invasive intervention. It's extremely rewarding to see someone's life change by altering how their brain is activated. It's possible, and it's happening right now as you read this, it's known as Neuroplasticity. A great video that illustrates this can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELpfYCZa87g&index=4&list=PL53nCCeNj-RQDhbjE9LjvnFad-wdB5bw7
As stated, in Functional Neurology we look at brain imbalances that occur when one part of the brain is not working as efficiently as another. This limits hemispheric communication and can severely disrupt normal inhibition of stress, anxiety, blood pressure and hyper-emotional responses. Much of what our brain attempts to accomplish is inhibitory, or controlling how much one area of our complex human body is expressed. A certain amount of cortisol level is important, especially during certain periods of the day such as morning or late afternoon, but constant activation is damaging. Controlling an anxious response takes multiple systems of the brain that simultaneously activateand inhibit multiple systems. Much like a healthy relationship, communication is required between hemispheres of our brain to understand and resolve anxious or stressful states. For instance, the left frontal lobe is highly parasympathetic and if not activated appropriately we may be susceptible to sympathetic overload, often from the midline, "older" portions of our brain- temporal lobes, limbic system along with the newer, higher functioning right hemisphere. We need a healthy balance of parasympathetic (wine, dine and relaxation) and sympathetic (fight or flight) to feel good and appropriate blood to the right places. If we maintain a sympathetic activation, we will deprive the brain of oxygen due to vasoconstriction, very similar to hyperventilation decreasing oxygen, which feels similar to a panic attack if you have ever experienced one, or just a higher generalized state of anxiety.
What is very promising is that we are able to understand and locate these descrepancies that are creating an imbalance in our "mood." Once understood, we can treat these regions using Functional Neurological rehabilitation to the lobes of the brain affected. We can do this because we understand what each lobe controls, so by using the human body, we can activate the brain. Most commonly, we are using specialized eye movements and brain activities for each lobe, which are highly cortical and allow the brain to become activated, along with appropriate spinal activaiton and oxygen levels. This process is known as Neuroplasticity, or changing the brain by creating new patterns or signals between neuronal, or brain cell pools that are limited in activation. We do this by activating the neurons, which through CIEGE, cellular immediate early gene expression are able to build new axons, terminals, mitochondria and many other aspects of cellular function to improve connections within the brain. This also regulates over-active regions (hyper-expression such as seen with anxiety) by increasing protein production, thus maintaining a more negative resting potention of each cell, limiting it's activation to appropriate times. In Layman's terms, for every little fluctuation of stress thoughout your day, you won't fly off the handle, because you're not so overactivated to begin with.
Not only are we able to activate the brain, but we use techniques to improve oxygenation, which is vital to cellular function within the brain by increasing rib expansion, breathing technique and mild portable hyperbaric oxygen therapy. This is an amazing way to boost brain function and decrease inflammatory response.
In summary, we're able to locate imbalanced regions of the brain and balance them through various treatments. The process is very complex, but the overall goal is more simple. Once this occurs, there will be fewer swings in neurotransmitter levels, and thus hormonal, cortisol, heart rate and blood pressure levels (autonomic function). This is extremely noticable when we tax our brains, or when we become overtired, overstressed and overworked- a common thread among American culture.
At Portland Chiropractic Neurology, we're offering a very special opportunity for our patients who are suffering from such conditions and we hope to help as many as possible so that they may live the life they were intended to. Happy, adaptable to stressful conditions and able to carry on healthy relationships with their friends, family and others.
A special thanks to the people at Sentis for providing and allowing the usage of their videos.