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Step 4: Your Brain

MRI Scan Image
The Basics --

Our brains are insanely complicated and not even close to being fully understood. It's important that you speak with a primary care physician to evaluate how you're brain is doing, and then take any necessary next steps to address any issues.

These can look like addressing physical brain health concerns or mental health concerns. Seeing a neurologist, psychiatrist, or therapist might be the next step in one of these situations.

 

Mental & Emotional Health --​

It may come as a surprise to some people that our mental and emotional health is part of our brain health. It's still not totally clear as to exactly how the brain and mental health are intertwined, but there's been lots of data correlating decreased neurotransmitters with mental illness. A common example of this is with depression. Brains struggling with mental illnesses are generally low in serotonin (a neurotransmitter that's responsible for mood stabilization), dopamine (which provides joy), norepinephrine (which regulates energy and attentiveness), and more.

Taking care of your brain can help manage mental illnesses, as well as supplementing with medication. A trained psychiatrist should be the go-to physician to help with diagnosing and providing you with the right medication. I highly suggest you see a psychiatrist over a primary physician when it comes to medication. Oftentimes times primary physicians will prescribe basic anti-depressants without conducting further evaluation to see if that's a good fit. Find a psychiatrist who can accurately figure out what medications you need.

In addition to mental illnesses being influenced by chemical imbalances in your brain, they can also be influenced by the way your brain processes information. These are generally referred to as personality disorders, which in my opinion is a misleading name. Things like your upbringing, trauma, and life experiences shape the way our brains process information. If our brains don't learn how to process things well, then it can make our mental health struggle with the management of difficult situations, contributing to stress on our brains, and sometimes messing with our neurotransmitters as well.

Seeing a licensed therapist or psychotherapist is a very important way to address these difficulties and retrain your brain's processing through techniques such as CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), CPT (cognitive processing therapy), DBT (dialectical behavior therapy), and other techniques.

It's important when searching for a licensed professional to make sure you feel comfortable and safe. Find a good starting point to establish some sort of routine, and then refine that later on with someone you feel more at ease with.

Summary:

  • Check with a doctor if you feel that you are struggling with any brain health issues.

  • Consider seeing a psychiatrist for medication management.

  • Look for a therapist who can help you process difficulties in your past as well as your day-to-day life.

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