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Can A Chemical Imbalance In The Brain Be Cured

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Substance Abuse Treatments Detox & Outlook

The Chemical Imbalance Theory of Mental Disorders

Once the brain has become imbalanced due to drug abuse and dependence, it can take some time and effort to restore things. Cravings and emotional and physical withdrawal symptoms can be significant with some drugs, they may be dangerous or even life-threatening. The safest method to restore a chemical balance to the brain is through medical detox.

Detox is the process of allowing toxins to make their way out of the brain and body, allowing for proper healing. Medical detox is the most comprehensive form of detox. It provides 24/7 medical and mental health monitoring and supervision in a controlled and secure environment.

Different drugs may process out of the body at variable timelines, and side effects can range greatly in intensity during detox. On average, a person will remain in a medical detox program for several days to a week or two. Medications are often used to counteract withdrawal symptoms and manage drug cravings.

Withdrawal symptoms may continue beyond detox, although the acute nature of the symptoms usually begins to dissipate after this point. The brain can take more time to heal and achieve a healthy balance. NIDA recommends that an individual battling addiction remain in a treatment program for at least 90 days and longer when needed. This allows time for the brain to establish new neural connections, new habits to form, and brain chemistry to be restored.

Finding Help For Someone With Mental Illness11

As a teacher, you may occasionally have students who show symptoms of or who havesignificant risk factors for a mental illness. A first step for helping thesestudents is to contact the school nurse or guidance counselor. These individualsshould know the appropriate next steps to take, including directing the student’sparents or guardians to contact their physician or their city or county mentalhealth services.

If you think a friend or colleague might have a mental illness, encourage him or herto see a physician. Physicians can make referrals to mental health specialists inthe community. In addition, your state or county health departments may offerservices for people struggling with a mental illness. The National Mental HealthAssociation has an affiliate network throughout the country. The programs offered bythe NMHA affiliates include support groups, public education and advocacy campaigns,rehabilitation, and housing services. You can access the NMHA’s affiliate networkthrough its Web site: .

The Additional Resources for Teachers section describes other online resources aboutmental illnesses .

When To Call Your Healthcare Provider

If you have 5 or more of these symptoms for at least 2 weeks, call your healthcare provider:

  • Lasting sad, anxious, or empty mood

  • Loss of interest in almost all activities

  • Appetite and weight changes

  • Changes in sleep patterns, such as inability to sleep or sleeping too much

  • Slowing of physical activity, speech, and thinking OR agitation, increased restlessness, and irritability

  • Ongoing feelings of worthlessness and/or feelings of undue guilt

  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions

  • Repeating thoughts of death or suicide, wishing to die, or attempting suicide

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Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors

SSRIs are a type of antidepressant.

There are a number of different SSRIs, but fluoxetine is most commonly used to treat BDD.

It may take up to 12 weeks for SSRIs to have an effect on your BDD symptoms.

If they work for you, you’ll probably be asked to keep taking them for several months to improve your symptoms further and stop them coming back.

There are some common side effects of taking SSRIs, but these will often pass within a few weeks.

Your doctor will keep a close eye on you over the first few weeks. It’s important to tell them if you’re feeling particularly anxious or emotional, or are having thoughts of harming yourself.

If you’ve not had symptoms for 6 to 12 months, you’ll probably be taken off SSRIs.

This will be done by slowly reducing your dose over time to help make sure your symptoms do not come back and to avoid any side effects of coming off the drug , such as anxiety.

Adults younger than 30 will need to be carefully monitored when taking SSRIs as they may have a higher chance of developing suicidal thoughts or trying to hurt themselves in the early stages of treatment.

Children and young people may be offered an SSRI if they’re having severe symptoms of BDD.

Medicine should only be suggested after they have seen a psychiatrist and been offered therapy.

What Are The Common Causes Of Chemical Imbalances In The Brain

Because a chemical imbalance in the brain can be solved ...

Chemical imbalances in the brain may stem from a variety of causes including a brain tumor, the death of important brain cells, an anxiety disorder, medication or drug abuse, or it may even be congenital. A chemical imbalance may cause minor or major personality and mood changes, as well as mental illness. When brain chemistry is altered, a person experiences a wide range of distressing symptoms. In some cases, medication can help reverse or control chemical changes and return a person to normal or near normal functioning, but some imbalances have a permanent adverse impact on a persons life.

When brain cells die, a person develops symptoms indicative of illnesses like Parkinsons and other degenerative diseases. This is because cell death initiates chemical imbalances in the brain, which commonly lead to a further decline in cognition, motor skills and reflexes. For instance, in Parkinsons disease, the death of brain cells decreases the production of the brain chemical dopamine, which interrupts neurotransmitter communication and creates symptoms such as body tremors and declining control over body movements.

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Addiction And Chemical Imbalance

Drugs and alcohol are among substances that can cause chemical imbalances. In turn, the imbalance causes more pain and emotional distress. This becomes a cycle of physical dependence on substances to feel good and to forget about your problems. However, because of the imbalances in the brain, the effects dont last that long. Thus, there is a need for higher and more frequent doses.

Some drugs cause permanent changes in the brain. However, the chemical imbalances typically readjust once the drugs or alcohol are out of the system. At addiction treatment centers, the primary treatment for imbalances is medical detox. But eradicating the effects of any substance takes time.

Recovery and treatment options will often need professional and emotional support. If you face a dual diagnosis in which addiction comes with other illnesses, you may face even bigger obstacles. However, you can rest assured that rehab centers have plans and programs to help you. Addiction treatment therapies that can help include:

Adrenaline Helping Us Stay Safe

Adrenaline, or epinephrine, is responsible for your bodys fight or flight response. It helps you react quickly in a dangerous or stressful situation. Adrenaline is the hormone released when your brain perceives excitement, danger, fear, or a potential threat. You might feel a mix of all of those emotions when doing something like skydiving for example, which is a time when your body is likely to be full of adrenaline.

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What Role Does Serotonin Play In Our Health

As a neurotransmitter, serotonin helps to relay messages from one area of the brain to another. Because of the widespread distribution of its cells, it is believed to influence a variety of psychological and other body functions. Of the approximately 40 million brain cells, most are influenced either directly or indirectly by serotonin. This includes brain cells related to mood, sexual desire and function, appetite, sleep, memory and learning, temperature regulation, and some social behavior.

In terms of our body function, serotonin can also affect the functioning of our cardiovascular system, muscles, and various elements in the endocrine system. Researchers have also found evidence that serotonin may play a role in regulating milk production in the breast, and that a defect within the serotonin network may be one underlying cause of SIDS .

Information About Specific Mental Illnesses9

Drug Addiction : How to Detect a Chemical Imbalance

A diagnosis of mental illness is rarely simple and straightforward. There are noinfallible physiological tests that determine whether a person has a mental illness.Diagnosis requires that qualified healthcare professionals identify several specificsymptoms that the person exhibits. Each mental illness has characteristic signs andsymptoms that are related to the underlying biological dysfunction. The followingsections describe the symptoms and outcomes of three mental illnesses that arehighlighted in this curriculum supplement: depression, attention deficithyperactivity disorder, and schizophrenia.

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Chemical Imbalance Of The Brain Signs & Symptoms

A chemical imbalance in the brain results when there are discrepancies in the levels of chemical compounds in the brain. There are medical conditions which are considered signs and symptoms of the chemical imbalance disease in the brain. It is also important to point out that there is considerable controversy regarding the cause and effect of brain chemical imbalance within the medical community.

What Are The Symptoms Of Schizophrenia

Each person may feel symptoms differently. These are the most common symptoms:

  • False beliefs not based on reality

  • Seeing, hearing, smelling, or feeling things that are not real

  • Disorganized speech and behavior

  • Feeling like someone or something is out to get them

  • Withdrawal from others

  • Inflated self worth

These symptoms can make it very hard to function in the world and take care of yourself. People with this illness are usually not violent.

The symptoms of schizophrenia may look like other problems or mental health conditions. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

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The Stigma Of Mental Illness7

“The last great stigma of the twentieth century is the stigma of mentalillness.”

√ĘTipper Gore, wife of the former U.S. Vice President

Words can hurt. Many derogatory words and phrases are used in relation tomental illness. However, these words maintain the stereotyped image and notthe reality about mental illness. Try not to use these words, and encouragestudents not to use them.

“Mentally ill people are nuts, crazy, wacko.” “Mentally ill people are morally bad.””Mentally ill people are dangerous and should be locked in an asylum forever.””Mentally ill people need somebody to take care of them.” How often have we heardcomments like these or seen these types of portrayals in movies, television shows,or books? We may even be guilty ofmaking comments like them ourselves. Is there any truth behind these portrayals, oris that negative view based on our ignorance and fear?

Stigmas are negative stereotypes about groups of people. Common stigmasabout people who are mentally ill are

  • Individuals who have a mental illness are dangerous.
  • Individuals who have a mental illness are irresponsible and can’t makelife decisions for themselves.
  • People who have a mental illness are childlike and must be taken care ofby parents or guardians.
  • People who have a mental illness should just get overit.

Providing accurate information is one way to reduce stigmas about mentalillness.

Can Diet Influence Our Supply Of Serotonin


It can, but in a roundabout way. Unlike calcium-rich foods, which can directly increase your blood levels of this mineral, there are no foods that can directly increase your body’s supply of serotonin. That said, there are foods and some nutrients that can increase levels of tryptophan, the amino acid from which serotonin is made.

Protein-rich foods, such as meat or chicken, contain high levels of tryptophans. Tryptophan appears in dairy foods, nuts, and fowl. Ironically, however, levels of both tryptophan and serotonin drop after eating a meal packed with protein. Why? According to nutritionist Elizabeth Somer, when you eat a high-protein meal, you “flood the blood with both tryptophan and its competing amino acids,” all fighting for entry into the brain. That means only a small amount of tryptophan gets through — and serotonin levels don’t rise.

But eat a carbohydrate-rich meal, and your body triggers a release of insulin. This, Somer says, causes any amino acids in the blood to be absorbed into the body — but not the brain. Except for, you guessed it — tryptophan! It remains in the bloodstream at high levels following a carbohydrate meal, which means it can freely enter the brain and cause serotonin levels to rise, she says.

What can also help: Getting an adequate supply of vitamin B-6, which can influence the rate at which tryptophan is converted to serotonin.

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Treatments For Body Dysmorphic Disorder

The symptoms of BDD can get better with treatment.

If your symptoms are relatively mild, you should be referred for a type of talking therapy called cognitive behavioural therapy , which you have either on your own or in a group.

If you have moderate symptoms, you should be offered either CBT or a type of antidepressant medicine called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor .

If your symptoms are more severe, or other treatments do not work, you should be offered CBT together with an SSRI.

Proposed Causes Of A Chemical Imbalance In The Brain

The chemical imbalance theory suggests that depression results from changing levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. The most common evidence used to support the chemical imbalance theory is the effectiveness of antidepressant medications.

These medications work by increasing the levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain. Large-scale analysis shows that these medications are effective in treating symptoms of depression when compared with placebo.

However, while these medications can help improve a persons symptoms, this doesnt mean that the symptoms necessarily come from a chemical deficiency.

For example, serotonin plays a role in a persons overall mental health, but theres insufficient evidence to suggest that an imbalance in serotonin levels causes depression.

There are likely millions of chemical reactions occurring in the brain. The amount of reactions occurring at any one time makes it impossible to determine if someone is experiencing a singular chemical imbalance in their brain.

For example, theres a time lag between when a person starts taking SSRIs, and when they reverse symptoms. This suggests that some other downstream process could be mediating the antidepressant effect.

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How Does Chemical Imbalance Occur In The Brain

  • The brain is surrounded by synaptic vesicles which cluster beneath the membrane of the brain. They often release neurotransmitters which are also known as endogenous chemicals. These chemicals relay and amplify brain signals transmitted between neutron and other cells of the brain. According to theories of chemical imbalance, abnormal levels or concentrations of these neurotransmitters in the brain leads to chemical imbalance in the brain.

How Is Schizophrenia Treated

Challenging the Chemical Imbalance Theory of Mental Disorders: Robert Whitaker, Journalist

Managing schizophrenia is a lifelong process. It can’t be cured. But symptoms can often be managed with medicine and therapy. Often, more than 1 method is needed. Types of treatment that may be helpful include:

  • Antipsychotic medicines. These are the main medicines used to reduce the most troubling symptoms such as delusions and paranoia.

  • Other medicines. These may include antidepressants or other mood stabilizers.

  • Therapy. Individual and family therapy .

  • Training. These may include learning social skills, job skills, or structured activity.

  • Self-help and support groups.

Early treatment and supportive services helps affected people live productive lives. It’s very important to take medicines exactly as prescribed and to keep taking them even if you feel better. Many people may still have some symptoms, even with treatment. At times, symptoms may get worse and treatment will need to be adjusted.

Always see your healthcare provider for more information.

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Believing You Can Change Your Brain

Finally, it turns out that simply believing that you have the power to physically change your brain can in fact help you change your brain.

Carol Dweck explained the significance of what she called a growth mindset in her famous TED Talk titled The Importance of Believing You Can Improve. To sum up her profound point, kids who are taught that they didnt correctly solve a problem or pass a test yet showed more willingness to learn and improve than those graded on a simple pass/fail system:

Just the words yet or not yet, were finding, give kids greater confidence, give them a path into the future that creates greater persistence. And we can actually change students mindsets. In one study, we taught them that every time they push out of their comfort zone to learn something new and difficult, the neurons in their brain can form new, stronger connections, and over time they can get smarter.

The benefits of a growth mindset arent limited to school children. Approaching challenges with an attitude that embraces growth and improvement can give us the grit we need to push our limits, strengthen beneficial neural connections, and create entirely new ones well into old age.

I dont know about you, but I find that incredibly comforting.

The Consequences Of Not Treating Mental Illness8

Most people don’t think twice before going to a doctor if they have an illness suchas bronchitis, asthma, diabetes, or heart disease. However, many people who have amental illness don’t get the treatment that would alleviate their suffering. Studiesestimate that two-thirds of all young people with mental health problems are notreceiving the help they need and that less than one-third of the children under age18 who have a serious mental health problem receive any mental health services.Mental illness in adults often goes untreated, too. What are the consequences ofletting mental illness go untreated?

In September 2000, the U.S. surgeon general held a conference on children’s mentalhealth. The former surgeon general, Dr. David Satcher, emphasized the importance ofmental health in children by stating, “Children and families are suffering becauseof missed opportunities for prevention and early identification, fragmentedservices, and low priorities for resources. Overriding all of this is the issue ofstigma, which continues to surround mental illness.”

Mental illness impairs a student’s ability to learn. Adolescents whose mentalillness is not treated rapidly and aggressively tend to fall further and furtherbehind in school.

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