Did you know? The University of Warwick has discovered that depression affects a region of the brain that is responsible for reward-seeking. According to Montreal psychologists, we normally feel a sense of loss and disappointment, when we actually lose something. When depressed, we are likely to feel that way even if we haven't actually lost anything.
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Why We Feel Loss When Depressed
The part of our brain that makes us chase rewards works closely together with another part of our brain that deals with our sense of self. When one region becomes active, the other becomes less active. Too much or too little activity in any region can lead to problems. On the one hand, when our reward region is less active and our self-awareness region does not activate, we will be too insensitive to actual losses or the potential to lose things; loss prevention is a human instinct and it is very maladaptive to not have it at all. On the other hand, when our reward region is still less active, but our self-awareness region is overactive, this can lead us to directly attribute losses to our sense of self; this often leads to disappointment and low self-esteem, as is often the case when we suffer from depression.
Why Depression is Linked to Drug Abuse
We know that - when depressed - an inactive reward region in our brain can lead to disappointment and low self-esteem. On the flip side, when our reward region is finally activated, our low self-esteem and disappointment is temporarily masked. In an effort to avoid these negative feelings, we often seek to chase rewards with sensation seeking activities; although some of these activities can be very helpful to our mental health (such as sports), psychoactive drugs - like marijuana and cocaine - also activate the reward region of our brain. For this reason, drug use is much higher among those of us with depression; when drugs are used explicitly to numb negative feelings, it is referred to as self-medication.
How to Overcome Depression Without Drugs
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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are not to be misinterpreted as medical, clinical, or any other professional advice. The views expressed are opinions and / or ideas founded on research and clinical experience. These views are meant to provoke awareness and inquiry into various issues, and thus, create an open-minded dialogue, civil discussion, and respectful debate among our readers. Any claims made are subject to change should new studies be conducted that disprove these claims.
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