Something occurred to me this morning. We hear so much debate about what causes mental illness, and how to treat it. The one that I’m most aware of is that depression is the result of a chemical imbalance, and that it can be helped with medication. I’m not sure where I sit with this argument, because I know medication has helped to a degree, but so have lots of other things.
One point that Therapist 2.0 consistently comes back to is cortisol – our threat protection system is triggered for whatever reason, it sends cortisol into our system to get us ready to fight or flee, then the tension this creates in our body reinforces the sense that we’re in danger, so releasing more cortisol, and the cycle continues. Brain sends messages to body, body sends messages to brain, and we’re caught somewhere in the middle trying to cope with it all. Does that make it a chemical imbalance? Ok, there’s too much cortisol in our system at times, but is that not a reaction more than a cause?
I was talking about this with my sister last week, and she wondered why there was no medication that could control this. But I guess if we were to tamper with our system’s ability to release cortisol, then we’d be putting ourselves in very real danger, in that at a time when we genuinely do need it, none is released. (I should probably point out that this is all very much just me pondering the issue. I don’t have the answers, nor have I done extensive research, but Therapist 2.0 is really making me think)
I think the crux of what I’m trying to figure out at the moment is whether bpd/depression is the cause or result of chemical imbalance, or if that even comes into it all. My brain thinks it’s helping. My body is reacting to signals from my brain. My mind is caught in the middle and often isn’t able to keep up. I feel like I almost understand, but not quite. Then when we throw medication into the mix……..what is it actually doing? It can’t ‘cure’ the problem, that’s for sure, although it can manage the symptoms to an extent. But maybe even symptoms isn’t the right word?! Maybe medication helps manage how these reactions manifest, and takes the edge off to such an extent that we can work on the root cause. I’d like to think that’s the case, because if it is, it means there’s a very real possibility that medication won’t be part of my future for ever and always. That would be really, really awesome.