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Small Changes Matter to Your Brain


Jemima
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This article was in the same issue as the one ellenr posted about SSRIs today. I find it fascinating that even small lifestyle choices can influence the brain for better or worse. Of course we know that exercise, good diet, and having a sense of purpose in life are good things, but this article has finally gotten through to me just HOW important they are in that they can change the structure of the brain.

 

Out of the Shadows

By John Ratey, Catherine Johnson, published on May 01, 1997 - last reviewed on July 02, 2010

 

....

BOOSTING BRAIN PERFORMANCE

"When it comes to making small changes in our lives and brains, the motto to embrace is: Everything matters. Exercise, food, sleep, the work we do, whom we marry--all of it affects our brains.

 

Perhaps the most important modest change any of us can make is to establish an exercise program, and stick to it. A growing body of evidence links aerobic exercise to sharpened memory, faster response times, elevated mood, and increased self-esteem. Most of these studies have been conducted on the elderly, but the results are so encouraging that many clinicians are convinced that even young children may benefit from a program of daily exercise.

 

Martial arts, forms of exercise that train the mind as well as the body, have helped a number of patients with shadow syndromes to make tremendous progress in their lives. Like meditation, which is also an excellent tool for soothing the noisy brain, martial arts train the body and brain to a achieve a state of relaxed readiness, which allows the trainee to react to any challenge without having to anticipate it.

 

We can also influence brain chemistry for the better through food, light, and sleep. Clear data indicate that light is good unless you are manic, and sleep is good unless you are depressed (when it may be bad). Food is a more complicated issue. For example, pure carbohydrates unaccompanied by fat may soothe anxiety, but decrease alertness at the same time. Whatever enters our bloodstream, from wheat germ to pork crackling, may affect the brain in a matter of seconds.

 

Beyond the common-sense tactic of striving to develop good habits in exercise and diet, we should hold ourselves open to the mysteries of the body and its brain. Solutions can come from places we would never look, and if we notice a positive effect in our own life, whether from food or exercise or sleep or light or negative ions or simply the scent of autumn in the air, we should take it seriously.

 

Apart from these changes, the single most critical improvement anyone can make in brain function, and in character, is to find a mission in life. It is well known that idleness increases psychiatric and physical symptoms of all kinds. And almost any form of work, even work we do not particularly enjoy, can quiet the noisy brain. Work stimulates the cheer-seeking left side of the brain, taking us out of the stewing morass that is the right. An impassioned commitment to an activity pushes brain function in the direction of health, sanity, and well-being."

 

http://www.psychologytoday.com/node/60739

Edited by Altostrata
added author name to conform to Creative Commons Attribution License

Psychotropic drug history: Pristiq 50 mg. (mid-September 2010 through February 2011), Remeron (mid-September 2010 through January 2011), Lexapro 10 mg. (mid-February 2011 through mid-December 2011), Lorazepam (Ativan) 1 mg. as needed mid-September 2010 through early March 2012

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." -Hanlon's Razor


Introduction: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1588-introducing-jemima/

 

Success Story: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/6263-success-jemima-survives-lexapro-and-dr-dickhead-too/

Please note that I am not a medical professional and my advice is based on personal experience, reading, and anecdotal information posted by other sufferers.

 

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This article was in the same issue as the one ellenr posted about SSRIs today. I find it fascinating that even small lifestyle choices can influence the brain for better or worse. Of course we know that exercise, good diet, and having a sense of purpose in life are good things, but this article has finally gotten through to me just HOW important they are in that they can change the structure of the brain.

http://www.psycholog....com/node/60739

 

Good find Jemima, thanks!

As always, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! A proud supporter of the 10% (or slower) rule.

 

Requip - 3/16 ZERO  Total time on 25 years.

 

Lyrica: 8/15 ZERO Total time on 7 or 8 yrs.

BENZO FREE 10/13 (started tapering 7/10)  Total time on 25 years.

 

Read my intro thread here, and check the about me section.  "No matter how cynical you get, it's almost impossible to keep up." Lily Tomlin

 

 

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Too bad it attributes personality differences to structural differences in the brain before it gets to the good stuff!

 

Thanks for finding the gems in this article, J.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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Good article and makes sense. However, I saw a documentary recently on brain gymnastics which emphasizes doing things differently than we've done them before, which is what really makes the changes in the brain.

 

For example, using your left hand sometimes to do stuff you usually do with your right, or trying a new skill like painting or a sport you've never done. Apparently these things can actually change brain structure as it adapts to doing things differently.

 

It claims to help stave off dementia much more effectively than the older thinking that crosswords and reading and keeping busy will keep our minds from the beast of Alzheimer's.

 06/12 - Tapered off Cipralex. 30mg/Lithium 600mg/Epival 500mg

Very difficult time with 3-month taper off all drugs.

11/12 - Doc prescribed clonazepam 1 mg. for insomnia

01/14 - Clonazepan taper from 1 mg to .75 mg, then liquid microtaper to .638 mg. Depersonalization, extreme fatigue, muscle aches off/on.

05/15 - Switched to dry cut at .625 mg. Ok for 2-3 weeks, then same strong symptoms. Holding .625 mg.

06/15 - Switched over to liquid dosing .3125 ml 2x/day, 11 am & 11 pm.  Symptoms mild and no sleep issues.  Holding .625 mg/day.

10/15 - down to .530 mg. clonazepam in 4 months. .265 mg 2x/ day @ 10 am/10 pm. 

11/15 - holding at .528

11/15 - started microtaper to relieve persistent w/d symptoms

01/16 - microtaper not improving things; extremely sensitive to slightest decreases 

02/16 - holding at .524. 

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Good article and makes sense. However, I saw a documentary recently on brain gymnastics which emphasizes doing things differently than we've done them before, which is what really makes the changes in the brain.

Was the documentary a US production or Canadian. If it was on PBS I saw it, but not if it was otherwise. I'm very interested in brain gymnastics. Do you have a link?

As always, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! A proud supporter of the 10% (or slower) rule.

 

Requip - 3/16 ZERO  Total time on 25 years.

 

Lyrica: 8/15 ZERO Total time on 7 or 8 yrs.

BENZO FREE 10/13 (started tapering 7/10)  Total time on 25 years.

 

Read my intro thread here, and check the about me section.  "No matter how cynical you get, it's almost impossible to keep up." Lily Tomlin

 

 

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Good article and makes sense. However, I saw a documentary recently on brain gymnastics which emphasizes doing things differently than we've done them before, which is what really makes the changes in the brain.

 

For example, using your left hand sometimes to do stuff you usually do with your right, or trying a new skill like painting or a sport you've never done. Apparently these things can actually change brain structure as it adapts to doing things differently.

 

It claims to help stave off dementia much more effectively than the older thinking that crosswords and reading and keeping busy will keep our minds from the beast of Alzheimer's.

 

I tend to think that active involvement of the brain in doing a task is the important factor, although doing things differently or learning new things may be more helpful than crosswords or reading. Physical activity is important as well; exercise seems to help nearly everything.

 

It's been my observation that people who do very little with their free time except nap and watch TV or movies are the ones who get old the fastest.

Psychotropic drug history: Pristiq 50 mg. (mid-September 2010 through February 2011), Remeron (mid-September 2010 through January 2011), Lexapro 10 mg. (mid-February 2011 through mid-December 2011), Lorazepam (Ativan) 1 mg. as needed mid-September 2010 through early March 2012

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." -Hanlon's Razor


Introduction: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1588-introducing-jemima/

 

Success Story: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/6263-success-jemima-survives-lexapro-and-dr-dickhead-too/

Please note that I am not a medical professional and my advice is based on personal experience, reading, and anecdotal information posted by other sufferers.

 

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Good article and makes sense. However, I saw a documentary recently on brain gymnastics which emphasizes doing things differently than we've done them before, which is what really makes the changes in the brain.

Was the documentary a US production or Canadian. If it was on PBS I saw it, but not if it was otherwise. I'm very interested in brain gymnastics. Do you have a link?

 

It was called "Brain Fitness" - that's all I can remember. Ha ha. Must do more of those brain gymnastics myself.

 06/12 - Tapered off Cipralex. 30mg/Lithium 600mg/Epival 500mg

Very difficult time with 3-month taper off all drugs.

11/12 - Doc prescribed clonazepam 1 mg. for insomnia

01/14 - Clonazepan taper from 1 mg to .75 mg, then liquid microtaper to .638 mg. Depersonalization, extreme fatigue, muscle aches off/on.

05/15 - Switched to dry cut at .625 mg. Ok for 2-3 weeks, then same strong symptoms. Holding .625 mg.

06/15 - Switched over to liquid dosing .3125 ml 2x/day, 11 am & 11 pm.  Symptoms mild and no sleep issues.  Holding .625 mg/day.

10/15 - down to .530 mg. clonazepam in 4 months. .265 mg 2x/ day @ 10 am/10 pm. 

11/15 - holding at .528

11/15 - started microtaper to relieve persistent w/d symptoms

01/16 - microtaper not improving things; extremely sensitive to slightest decreases 

02/16 - holding at .524. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Good article and makes sense. However, I saw a documentary recently on brain gymnastics which emphasizes doing things differently than we've done them before, which is what really makes the changes in the brain.

 

For example, using your left hand sometimes to do stuff you usually do with your right, or trying a new skill like painting or a sport you've never done. Apparently these things can actually change brain structure as it adapts to doing things differently.

 

It claims to help stave off dementia much more effectively than the older thinking that crosswords and reading and keeping busy will keep our minds from the beast of Alzheimer's.

 

I tend to think that active involvement of the brain in doing a task is the important factor, although doing things differently or learning new things may be more helpful than crosswords or reading. Physical activity is important as well; exercise seems to help nearly everything.

 

It's been my observation that people who do very little with their free time except nap and watch TV or movies are the ones who get old the fastest.

 

Definitely TV can dull the brain cells. But if we're selective about what movies we watch I think we can find value in them. I totally agree about the exercise. When I went through the worst of my withdrawal (to date, anyway) I forced myself into regular yoga and aqua exercise and wow, did it ever help.

 06/12 - Tapered off Cipralex. 30mg/Lithium 600mg/Epival 500mg

Very difficult time with 3-month taper off all drugs.

11/12 - Doc prescribed clonazepam 1 mg. for insomnia

01/14 - Clonazepan taper from 1 mg to .75 mg, then liquid microtaper to .638 mg. Depersonalization, extreme fatigue, muscle aches off/on.

05/15 - Switched to dry cut at .625 mg. Ok for 2-3 weeks, then same strong symptoms. Holding .625 mg.

06/15 - Switched over to liquid dosing .3125 ml 2x/day, 11 am & 11 pm.  Symptoms mild and no sleep issues.  Holding .625 mg/day.

10/15 - down to .530 mg. clonazepam in 4 months. .265 mg 2x/ day @ 10 am/10 pm. 

11/15 - holding at .528

11/15 - started microtaper to relieve persistent w/d symptoms

01/16 - microtaper not improving things; extremely sensitive to slightest decreases 

02/16 - holding at .524. 

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Learning new things causes new connections and renews the brain.

 

And don't forget the physical -- new movements and exercise can stimulate new brain cells.

 

I took up folk dancing in July and it pushed my recovery forward quite a bit. Good exercise, coordinated movement, and cheerful emotional atmosphere -- I recommend something like this, even though it's dorky!

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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