(Stillness in the Storm Editor) In the modern age, mood issues, emotional upset, depression, boredom, and so on are all too common. Can modern-day drugs really help? The answer will likely resonate with what you’ve always believed deep down.
Drugs can provide relief for emotional or psychological issues because what we experience as feelings, emotions, and even mental processes are largely governed by the physical body.
But is this sense of relief really good for us?
For instance, just because you can take enough novocaine to not feel a painful foot injury, would numbing ourselves to the point we don’t notice the damage were causing to ourselves be good?
You gotta feel it to heal it.
Feelings, for example, are neurological processes, using neurotransmitters, peptides, bioelectric nervous system transmissions, and meta-cognitive feedback loops. What this means is that what we feel and experience every day is a chorus of many different systems all working together. And while there is a great deal of evidence to suggest consciousness is more than physical, like in the below well-referenced book, it is most definitely influenced by physical reality.
There is a great deal I’d love to share with you about how the non-material aspects of consciousness work with and through the material aspects, as I’ve come to understand it.
For now, consider reading the following extensive article, where I introduce the idea of what I call a biological virtual reality environment.
Psychology tells us our emotions do three things, which is in agreement with common knowledge and mystical teachings:: 1) they help motivate you to take action, 2) they alert you to new things in your environment, whether internal or external—either threats or opportunities and 3) they augment your perception and interpretation of reality.
When you think about something you’re excited to do, like the morning when you’re about to start a week-long vacation, you’re filled with neurotransmitters that excite you for exploration, play, and adventure. These are norepinephrine, cortisol, serotonin, and dopamine, to name a few.
As long as you feel good about what will happen on this vacation—because, let’s say, you’ve already planned every detail and now it’s just a matter of following through—you’ll feel a pleasant sense of alert excitement. This is called the anticipation response, biased in the positive because you’re looking forward to, and are on the path of, a fulfilling goal and activity. When your Uber arrives to take you to the airport, you’ll jump up with gleeful excitement. All of this is positive emotional motivation.
But what happens when, on your way to the airport in your gleeful excitement, you discover you might have forgotten your bathing suit? Now your long-planned and coveted vacation is at risk. Now there’s an obstacle in the way of your goal, and this changes your brain chemistry.
What happens at that moment? Your emotions shift rapidly along with your perception, focus, and your interpretation of the whole affair.
If you don’t find your bathing suit in your carryon, the concept of your vacation will be interpreted differently, producing different emotions. Instead of feeling overjoyed at the idea of laying on the beach, this vision will be a bitter reminder of something you can’t have. A decision needs to be made. The playing field has changed, requiring you to restrategize. The longer you stay indecisive, the stronger the feeling of anxiety and terror. If you make a choice that gives you peace of mind, it will be, in this case, because the vacation was resecured.
This little story is something we’ve all experienced. Its the power of our material body, our neurology, to shift our perception, emotions, and values. At the moment we discovered we left our bathing suit at home, the value of the vacation goal changed, and as a result, our attitude changed. It needed to change. We needed to get out of feeling happy about ourselves—content, inactive—so we can focus on getting things back on track. This effect is, for the most part, almost completely dominated by neurological, biochemical systems.
If the emotional response of anxiety, properly used by using it to restrategize, leads us to fix the problem. Then can we truly call this feeling bad? Granted, it might be uncomfortable, an unpleasant state of alertness as it is described by psychologists, but it brought us back to balance. But without context, without understanding what role these kinds of emotions play, we might try to “make them go away’ because we’re not using them properly.
What’s the difference between a martial artist and someone who’s never trained in fighting? The difference is, when the martial artist is confronted with a life-threatening attacker, they feel much less fear and anxiety than the untrained guy. This means the potency of a triggering situation is directly tied to our sense of self-confidence. And self-confidence is directly tied to believing that you know how to act in various life situations. It’s when we don’t know how to act that we experience unpleasant anxiety. And it’s when we refuse to face a situation that this unpleasant anxiety turns into crippling paralyzing fear.
I think this image perfectly describes how fear, or the unknown, or a situation you haven’t figured out how to deal with yet, can turn into a boogyman when we don’t face it. The longer a fear goes unfaced the more terrible and horrible it feels to us. We literally, from an emotional reaction sense, turn a kitten into a deadly lion.
Thus, it’s not unreasonable to think, from a psychologist’s and pharmacists’ point of view, that we can “cure” negative emotions with drugs.
But here’s the problem…
The emotional reaction is itself part of a process—it’s actually part of a healing process. But since modern science doesn’t acknowledge what I contend is the purpose of life, which is to gain mastery, negative emotional experiences and, most importantly, the contextual reasons why they occur, aren’t considered.
In short, what’s being healed is the soul.
How? Because negative emotion has a psychological effect, it shifts your perception and your values, as we mentioned. This changes our consciousness for learning and growth.
In effect, there’s something missing within us, there’s something that needs to be corrected, or fixed.
I know that language might seem degrading, but just work with me for a moment.
When a machine doesn’t work properly, like when a printer runs out of ink, it’s designed to alert the user to the problem, so the ink can be put back in the printer. There’s a messaging system at work. Our being, our brain, and consciousness are designed the same way.
The material body, the emotional feeling part of us is designed to communicate with the non-material consciousness, which is the awareness/free will choice part of us. Emotions are part of that system that improves the wisdom of the soul.
How does this happen? Because “bad things happen” for the most part, because we lack wisdom, we lack knowledge of how to act or handle a situation in a way that we value.
In the outside world, this lack of wisdom is how to act, physically to protect our values or find new ones.
In the inside world, this lack of wisdom is in thought, in philosophy—how to think and interpret events in a positive, uplifting, and consciousness-expanding way.
Your negative emotions are designed for one purpose, to change your focus so that you will gain knowledge of the situation in a way that helps you act better. In other words, they’re designed to lead you toward enlightenment.
This is what the hero’s journey is all about.
The hero, not having faced all the monsters of the world, is incomplete. He has a secret power he hasn’t learned how to unlock yet. By facing his fear, he unlocks that power and is “immune” to the fear he would otherwise encounter had he not gone on the adventure.
We are no different.
Psychology also shows, time and again, that the solution to hardship, emotional pain, and disillusionment is bravely facing whatever the situation is with a kind of reckless faith in yourself. This bravery response, literally, at a physical and neurological level, transforms negative emotion into a positive emotion. It transforms the fear of not having your bathing suit into relief and joy, as you decide to simply by another one when you get to your vacation spot.
Do you see how it works?
Negative emotion signals a gap in your wisdom. The choice to search for a solution to that gap is the heeding of the call to adventure, which is the very “mind hack” that transforms anxiety and fear into excitement.
Given all this, the question of antidepressants should hopefully take on a new view for you.
In my opinion, they are, at best, temporary tools to help one move past an overwhelming situation, or at worst, dangerous drugs that prevent people from forming lasting solutions to life’s emotional problems.
In my unlicensed medical opinion, I personally would only use antidepressants or any other extreme form of interventional medical treatment as an option of last resort. Or, stated another way, as a step in the process of becoming free of the need for external support.
As someone who has my own inner child issues, and knows how intense healing them can be, I know how helpful treatment can be. I’ve personally never taken psychiatric medication, but I have self-medicated with natural substances when I felt overwhelmed. And, according to naturopathic psychologists, to heal the mind, we sometimes need help from the mainstream medical establishment.
So the issue isn’t so black and white. Ultimately, I would argue, anything you need to do to heal your soul is something you should pursue, as long as it doesn’t harm another. And that you’re vigilant about improving your process for healing as tools cease to be helpful.
All this being said, I’ll leave you with another opinion on psychiatric drugs, which is more conspiratorial.
Given the nature of how spiritual growth takes place, and that it leads toward a person who is immune to mind control, I would argue modern-day views on what is “psychologically healthy” are intentionally distorted to retard soul growth. Of which, the idea one can “take a pill” to get rid of or address, in the long term, mental illness, is a psyop.
The solution to a broken leg is to repair the bone. The solution to a mind that hasn’t gained the wisdom to have a good attitude about facing the challenges of life, is life wisdom and encouragement from those they value.
Wisdom is the ultimate “antidepressant.”
(Exploring Your Mind) What are antidepressants? How do they work? Are they really effective?
by Staff Writer, December 9th, 2020
Anti-depression medications (antidepressants) can help relieve symptoms of depression, social anxiety disorder, anxiety disorders, seasonal affective disorder, dysthymia (persistent depressive disorder), and mild chronic depression, as well as other conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder. But how do antidepressants work? What effects do they produce?
The goal of anti-depression medications is to correct chemical imbalances in the brain that scientists believe are responsible for mood and behavior changes. First developed in the 1950s, their use has become increasingly common in the last 20 years.
Are antidepressants effective?
We should be aware that antidepressants don’t start working as soon as we take them. In fact, in many cases, it can take several weeks for the person to begin to notice their effects.
Research suggests that anti-depression medications may be useful for people with moderate to severe depression. Studies have shown that they’re more effective than a placebo in people with depression. They aren’t usually recommended for mild depression, unless other alternatives, such as therapy, have failed.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists estimates that between 50 and 65% of people treated with an anti-depression medication will see some improvement, compared to 25 to 30% of people who take a placebo.
How do antidepressants work?
If we’re honest, experts aren’t completely sure how some antidepressants work. Most anti-depression medications work by increasing the levels of specific neurotransmitters in the brain. What they usually do is prevent these neurotransmitters from being recaptured from the intersynaptic space.
This means that they remain in the synapses for longer, causing more activity, and, as a result, they “compensate” for reduced levels. This way, antidepressants make the remaining neurotransmitters work more effectively, thus normalizing the overall activity to some degree.
However, this doesn’t really explain how antidepressants end up relieving depression symptoms. Neurotransmitters are like the basic elements to building something much more complex. It’s the same as the individual numbers in larger figures or the letters of our language. That’s why increasing the levels of neurotransmitters throughout the brain doesn’t really tell us too much.
On one hand, anti-depression medications increase the activity of neurotransmitters almost immediately. However, the therapeutic effects usually take weeks for the patient to notice them at a subjective level.
How different medications work against depression
Many researchers believe that the benefits of antidepressants stem from how they affect certain brain circuits by modifying the neurotransmitter levels. We’re talking here about serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.
Different types of anti-depression medications seem to affect the level of these neurotransmitters in various ways. Let’s see how they do it.
Some of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants are called reuptake inhibitors (RI). Reuptake is the process in which neurotransmitters are naturally reabsorbed into the brain’s nerve cells after being released to send messages among the nerve cells.
A reuptake inhibitor prevents this from happening. Instead of reabsorbing, the neurotransmitter remains, at least temporarily, in the gap between the nerves. This is called the intersynaptic space.
Theoretically, the benefit of these medications is that they maintain high levels of certain neurotransmitters. This could improve communication between nerve cells, thus strengthening the brain circuits that regulate our moods.
There are different types of reuptake inhibitors depending on the different neurotransmitters they target. These include:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
- Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors.
- Inhibitors of norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake.
Tetracyclics are another class of antidepressants that, even though they affect the neurotransmitters, they don’t prevent reuptake in the same way. Instead, they seem to prevent neurotransmitters from binding to specific receptors in the nerves. Because norepinephrine and serotonin don’t bind to the receptors, they seemingly accumulate between nerve cells. As a result, neurotransmitter levels increase.
These medications for depression seem to act in two ways. On one hand, they prevent the reuptake of serotonin. On the other, they prevent the serotonin particles that the brain releases in the synapse from binding to certain unwanted receptors. Instead, they redirect them to other receptors that can help nerve cells function better in the neuronal circuits that are responsible for our moods.
Tricyclics and MAOIs
These medications were among the first that doctors prescribed for depression. Although they’re effective, they can have quite serious side effects, especially if you take an overdose. These days, many doctors only resort to these medications when new and better-tolerated medications haven’t had any effects.
However, tricyclics and MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) can sometimes be very useful for people with treatment-resistant depression or other certain forms of depression, such as depression that’s accompanied by high anxiety levels.
Tricyclic antidepressants also prevent the reuptake of neurotransmitters, but do so non-selectively. One of their main functions is to work on the serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine levels all at the same time. Although these medications are clearly effective in treating depression, they’re currently being replaced by more specific medications.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) block the effects of monoamine oxidase, a natural enzyme that breaks down serotonin, epinephrine, and dopamine. As a result, the levels of these neurotransmitters could increase.
The drawback is that MAOIs also prevent the body’s ability to break down other medications metabolized by this enzyme. As a result, this increases the risk of high blood pressure, as well as the levels of an amino acid called tyrosine, found in certain foods, such as meats and cured cheeses.
MAOIs should also not be combined with other medications that can increase serotonin (such as certain medications for migraines or other antidepressants). This is because they can cause an excessive accumulation of serotonin, called “serotonin syndrome”, which could be life-threatening.
A lot of what scientists believe about antidepressants today is still speculative. They don’t really know if low levels of serotonin or other neurotransmitters cause depression. They also aren’t sure if increasing those levels will solve it. Perhaps we still don’t know enough about brain chemistry to be able to know when there’s a balance or imbalance.
It’s possible that antidepressants have other unknown effects as well. Their benefits may not have as much to do with neurotransmitter levels as with other effects, such as the regulation of genes that control the growth and function of nerve cells.
This may not seem overly reassuring. However, although experts don’t have all the answers about how antidepressants work, we do know that they can work. A lot of research has confirmed that antidepressants do indeed help many people feel better, and that’s the important thing.
Stillness in the Storm Editor: Why did we post this?
Psychology is the study of the nature of mind. Philosophy is the use of that mind in life. Both are critically important to gain an understanding of as they are aspects of the self. All you do and experience will pass through these gateways of being. The preceding information provides an overview of this self-knowledge, offering points to consider that people often don’t take the time to contemplate. With the choice to gain self-awareness, one can begin to see how their being works. With the wisdom of self-awareness, one has the tools to master their being and life in general, bringing order to chaos through navigating the challenges with the capacity for right action.
Not sure how to make sense of this? Want to learn how to discern like a pro? Read this essential guide to discernment, analysis of claims, and understanding the truth in a world of deception: 4 Key Steps of Discernment – Advanced Truth-Seeking Tools.
Stillness in the Storm Editor’s note: Did you find a spelling error or grammatical mistake? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the error and suggested correction, along with the headline and url. Do you think this article needs an update? Or do you just have some feedback? Send us an email at email@example.com. Thank you for reading.
January 15th 2020: Minor grammar corrections were made to this to this article