This is a partial article that I found fascinating. Follow this link if you would like to read the full article.
…I didn’t feel as though I could complain – People like me don’t cry: we cover our emotions and carry on.On the surface things looked fine, but I was ignoring a rising panic within….
Mellody House, in Arizona…..A new generation of psychological therapies [are] being pioneered… I learned that conditions we have traditionally called “mental health” problems, such as anxiety and depression, are now beginning to be understood differently.
Increasingly, they are seen as being rooted in the neurobiology of our nervous systems, and in this respect all mammals are almost identical. When faced with stress, the body does what it needs to respond and ensure survival. However, when there is no chance to allow stressful experiences to resolve themselves naturally, many of us are unable to turn off our “neuroception” of threat long after the threat itself has been survived. This means we get stuck in a frozen state that our system struggles to resolve, resulting in a biological meltdown (aka “trauma”).
Outwardly, this can manifest itself as many symptoms including anxiety (when the system overreacts to perceived threat); depression (when it under reacts); OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder); ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder); and “medically unexplained symptoms”. These almost always arise from a failure of the nervous system to regulate itself.
Many people unknowingly make things worse by medicating the symptoms with drugs and alcohol as they try to bring themselves back to a balanced “normal”.
At the Arizona center..[treatment involves] ..working with the body from the “bottom up” (upwards through the brainstem) rather than from the “mind down”, and…so‑called mental health problems [are] restored by a new generation of therapies, such as sensorimotor psychotherapy, somatic experiencing and EMDR (eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing).
The difference between these and other therapies is that the therapist tries to engage with the mammal part of the brain and biology, not the human thinking or “mind”. The instruction to patients is often to engage with “sensation” rather than “thought” and in doing so the therapists are helping us to resolve problems in our mammalian brain rather than in the human neocortex. This is radically new because it puts the primal, animal instinct before the brilliant, overdeveloped human in the chain of solving this particular problem. And it works.
Anxiety; depression; bipolar: in my clinic we no longer think solely in terms of these recognised conditions. We think of “incomplete stress cycles”. Our patients are overwhelmed, responding to life as if it is a constant threat, and they cannot cope.