Science & Mental Health

Without a doubt, the brain can easily be called the most complex organ of the body. In fact, some neurologists frequently compare its wiring and operations to that of a modern-day computer. When we are trying to understand the complexity of the brain and mental health, it can be helpful to better understand the labyrinth of neurons, chemicals, and synapses. Understanding the science behind mental health can help us gain a better understanding of how the brain works, as well as the neurobiology behind mental illness.  

What Does Science Say About Mental Health?

Scientific studies have shown that most mental illnesses are caused by an imbalance in the neurochemicals in the brain. In order for a person to experience significant improvement in the symptoms of a mental illness, it is often necessary for them to undergo counseling and take medications that help regulate their neurotransmitters. These are a few of the neurochemicals in the brain that can affect a person’s thinking and mood:

• Acetylcholine

• Adrenaline (also known as Epinephrine)

• Dopamine

• Glutamate 

• GABA

• Norepinephrine

• Serotonin

What Are the Biological Aspects of Mental Health?

The causes of neurotransmitter imbalances in the brain vary from person to person. However, most people suffer from neurochemical differences due to factors such as genetics, alcohol and drug use, environmental changes, trauma, certain medical conditions, or acute or chronic stress. There are also numerous other biological aspects of mental illnesses that should be mentioned, such as infections that have spread to the brain, traumatic brain injuries, birth defects of the brain, and exposure to toxins.

What is the Correlation Between the Brain and Mental Illnesses?

If the brain isn’t working at its best because of damage to a particular region or some type of chemical imbalance, it will not be able to work as efficiently or effectively as we would like for it to function. This could result in a person displaying the symptoms of a mental illness. For example, dysregulation of serotonin has been implicated in depression and anxiety. Dysregulation of dopamine neurotransmission has been implicated in psychosis. Imbalances to GABA and glutamate levels can contribute to alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

One role of medications is to help regulate such imbalances to help restore healthy function to the brain. Other factors, such as diet, exercise, sleep, psychotherapy, and meditation can also impact our neurotransmitter levels, and how our brain is functioning.

The Mental Health Collective, located in Orange County, California, is a resource for better understanding the underlying neurobiology of mental illness, as well as proper diagnosis and treatment. If you, or someone you love, is struggling with a mental health challenge, please give us a call 888.717.9355

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