In depression, the opposite psychology of effort, apathy, appears responsible for lowered production of new stem cells. During the apathy of depression, learning positive new ways of thinking and changing old habits becomes extremely challenging. Stirring up motivation for anything is challenging. In cases of severe depression, or “Major Depressive Disorder” (MDD), medications or electroshock may be necessary to elevate mood enough to even conceive of a more positive view of the world.
Change Your Mind: Change Your Brain
The problem with depression therapies that achieve “full remission” by electrical or chemical means only: such therapies change the physical brain – but not the mind. They haven’t reconditioned the thinking that produced the depression to begin with. If negative patterns of thinking are not changed to more positive thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes depression will return as the default state of mind. The effort required to change thinking spurs the neurogenesis required to change natural brain chemistry. A change in thinking is essential to improved outlook and long-term cure.
Neurogenesis: small dendrites along nerve axons (arrows) grow in size and number… to secure new learning and memory.
Or, they shrink and fade away… to erase old thinking that is no longer useful
The good news (difficult for a depressed person to imagine): If a depressed patient can muster the intestinal fortitude, grit, gumption, effort – whatever it takes – to perform a few basic psychotherapeutic practices for short periods each day antidepressant drugs will not be necessary for a complete recovery! Still, for the severely depressed, medication may be a necessity to begin. This first step to overcoming the default setting of negative thinking is both the most difficult and the most rewarding. (“Depression Management Techniques,” Wehrenberg, 2010)
For anyone who is seriously depressed the initial effort will be challenging in the extreme. The more challenging and the greater the effort that is applied, however, the more stem cells will grow, integrate, and gradually restore balance of serotonin – as well as dozens of other neurotransmitters. Prolonged swamping the brain with antidepressants creates an artificially high level of serotonin and overall imbalance in neurochemistry that feeds back to inhibit natural production of serotonin, throwing other neurotransmitters and neurohumors out of whack, too.
From 2003 to 2007, the percentage of marines in Afghanistan using prescription antidepressants increased to 17% – and nearly 30% for those in combat zones! Unfortunately, suicides by marines in and returning from Afghanistan increased sixfold during that period. (Peter R. Breggin, Medication Madness)