Our current mental state is dependant on many factors; our childhood experiences and emotional development, what we observe, learn and experience on a daily basis, our habitual behaviour and let’s not forget diet and lifestyle choices.
Science is now further investigating how both the gut and the heart, play a vital role in brain function which has been found to impact the brain considerably more than we may have even been aware of, in previous years.
I have been researching various therapy-based solutions for mental health issues with spiritual-based solutions and scientific research, since my first diagnosis of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), Anxiety, Agoraphobia and Depression back in 2015, which I have now cured.
Many of you may agree that both medical professionals and mental health practitioners, currently offer little to no solutions. From experience, it seems to be more about learning to cope with the side-effects if you will, rather than investigating the root cause of our suffering and tailoring solutions that would prevent suicide and or help us rebuild a normal life.
For me, that is simply not good enough.
Throughout my own search for answers – during the most debilitating years of my illness – I became increasingly concerned by the lack of research that had been conducted on how much of our sensory perceptions and mind as a whole, are actually responsible for developing a mental illness in the first place.
Was mental illness solely restricted to the mind?
I wanted to find out more.
Surprisingly, it was a documentary on the Aboriginal Australians, discussing their particular belief systems regarding brain function which led me to psychology and Neurocardiology research, where I learned we have in fact, two other ‘brains’ – by definition – that we know about; the gut and the heart, which play a vital role in maintaining a healthy mental state.
With information such as this being so prevalent to the recovery process of mental illness, I began questioning why this wasn’t a part of any mental health website information pack, or least of all, deemed medically, grounds for further testing before handing out prescriptive SSRIs.
Physician and neuroscientist Paul D. MacLean discovered the evolution of the vertebrate, forebrain and behaviour of the brain, known as the Triune Brain.
The triune brain is split into three categories, Neocortex region, the Limbic brain and the reptilian brain.
How the triune brain creates an anxiety attack and or panic attack:
Our occipital lobe handles vision and our temporal lobe processes sound. Our emotional responses, however, have their own regions. Our limbic system is a complex set of structures, including the hippocampus, amygdala, hypothalamus and the thalamus which is believed to handle most of our emotional processing and the prefrontal cortex, is what enables the brain to integrate this emotional information which in turn, influences our decision making.
It is currently believed amongst scientists, that anxiety and panic attacks occur when there are changes in the limbic system and hyperactive amygdalas, which for me, meant that understanding what causes both of these systems to respond this way, is where we may get answers as to why this response was even happening in the first place.
We may know why we are having continuous anxiety attacks and panic attacks, however, this is not enough.
In order to really establish what is influencing the brains current state, we must look at how our other organs function and what role they play in influencing the brain, so as to rule out, any underlining illness that may be causing this reaction or emotional instability.
The Importance of the Heart & Gut:
The heart and the gut have their own nervous system and biochemical signalling, similar to our mind. They are also capable of doing a wide range of complex adaptive processes that allow them to store information, change their signalling and capable of adapting to their environment.
The heart and the gut can also learn, receive instructions from the brain and send instructions to the brain, independently.
According to Heart Math, the heart communicates with the brain in a variety of ways:
- Neurological communication – (nervous system)
- Biochemical communication – (hormones)
- Biophysical communication – (pulse wave)
- Energetic communication – (electromagnetic fields)
Over 20 years of research conducted by John and Beatrice Lacey and psychologist and researcher Walter Bradford Cannon, found that the heart diverged information from the direction of our autonomic nervous system activity and used that information to form its own logic.
The heart both receives and sends instructions to the mind through electrical activity which affects our perceptions, behaviours and overall well-being.
‘The heart-brain, as it is commonly called, or intrinsic cardiac nervous system, is an intricate network of complex ganglia, neurotransmitters, proteins and support cells, the same as those of the brain in the head. The heart-brain’s neural circuitry enables it to act independently of the cranial brain to learn, remember, make decisions and even feel and sense. Descending activity from the brain in the head via the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the ANS is integrated into the heart’s intrinsic nervous system along with signals arising from sensory neurons in the heart that detect pressure, heart rate, heart rhythm and hormones.’ – Neurocardiology
The heart is a hormonal gland; communicating with the brain and our bodies biochemically and has the ability to manufacture and produce hormones and neurotransmitters, which have a wide-ranging impact on the body as a whole.
Our gastrointestinal tract is very sensitive to emotion and recent studies show that an estimated 90% of the body’s serotonin is made in the digestive tract.
Just the same as the heart, our gut can send signals to our mind which carry both good gut bacteria and bad gut bacteria, meaning, that if our gut is predominantly filled with bad gut bacteria, then those messages will be carrying bad bacteria to the brain and can cause emotional imbalances and other, autoimmune-related illnesses.
Most of what we deem today as ‘Mental Illness’ stems from the gut, heart and mind axis and maintaining the health of all three is integral to maintaining a healthy mind and reversing any possible damage that may have caused mental illness in the first place.
According to Food Renegade, there is conclusive evidence that the balance of good and bad bacteria in our Gut, has more effect on our mental state than we originally thought.
Researchers at McMaster University, show that there is a direct connection between the state of our Gut and the state of our mind, whether that results in Anxiety disorders, Depression, or even Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
‘Dr. Emeran Mayer, a professor of medicine and psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles believes that the microflora inhabiting a child’s gut actually influences the developing structures in his brain as the child grows up and that those brain structures can then influence that child’s feelings, thoughts emotions and mental health throughout his later life.? Dr. Mayer has taken MRI scans of the brains of thousands of volunteers while collecting samples of their gut bacteria.? He has? found? that the connections formed between the regions in a person’s brain differ depending on what type of bacteria predominate in each individual’s gut. ? It seems incredible that our gut bugs can affect our physical brain in such a profound way.? A conclusion that can be drawn from this research is that colonization by certain kinds of bacteria may lead to particular brain structures or wiring that makes someone more susceptible to anxiety that might exist in another person whose gut was colonized by different bacteria.’
Why Anti-depressants won’t cure Mental Illness:
It is becoming evidently clear that in most cases, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors – SSRIs – or Anti-depressants, are never going to be an effective cure; simply pumping chemical happiness into the brain is not necessarily combatting the root cause of our mental illness.
It appears, from my own experience, medical health professionals rarely establish the actual root cause of the mental illness and instead, heavily rely on therapists, psychiatrists and medications, to keep people functioning.
Meditation and mindfulness are certainly not going to work alone either, however, this practice will do more good for our overall well-being than SSRIs ever could, enabling us to gain control over our thought process and emotional reactions.
Our bodies, such as everything in life, have a particular balance in order to work effectively, so I am presuming that the key is finding out what balance our own bodies need in order to function, normally.
Sending you all love and light.