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Beyond Blue

brainchangesafterdepression.jpgHere’s a piece of news that makes me feel relieved and apprehensive at the same time (a typical bipolar response, right?). According to Rick Nauert, Senior News Editor for Pysch Central:

A new study finds formerly depressed women show patterns of brain activity when they are criticized by their mothers that are distinctly different from the patterns shown by never-depressed controls. 

The participants reported being completely well and fully recovered, yet their neural activity resembled that which has been observed in depressed individuals in other studies.

Jill Hooley, professor of psychology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard led the study, which appeared in the current issue of the journal “Psychiatry Research: Nueroimaging.” She writes:

When these formerly depressed participants are processing criticism, some brain areas thought to be involved in emotion regulation are less active, and the amygdala [the brain’s fear center] is actually more active, compared to the healthy controls. 

We know that this is not linked to them being symptomatic now. These findings tell us that even when people are fully recovered from an episode of depression, their ability to process criticism is still different – and probably not in a good way

I encourage you to read Rick’s entire post, but this does help to explain the last few days. I haven’t been able to let go of a few negative comments/responses. In fact, it feels like my very survival relies on being liked and approved by these folks. I keep on arguing with myself: “For the love of God, let it go.” But I can’t. And so around and around the thoughts go.

The amygdala, that damn fear center in my limbic system. It’s causing problems again … and because I have been severely depressed in the past, that is why I process criticism … from my mom or the mail man (“I asked you to trim your rose bushes so that I don’t have to prick myself leaving your mail”) like it’s a death sentence.

So does this make you feel better or worse? Never mind. Don’t answer that question.

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