How are Serotonin and Depression Related?

Depression can present itself in insurmountable ways. If left untreated, depression can affect our ability to function. Today, I’ll touch on some of the symptoms of depression I dealt with and how I ultimately overcame them.

One of the most commonly reported themes of depression is a lack of motivation to do absolutely anything. We can go from goal-oriented and extensively motivated people to locking ourselves in our room without a simple regard for how things are going to play out. And thus presents serotonin and instant-gratification measures.

Serotonin (or the lack thereof) can wreck havoc in our lives. Commonly referred to as the “happy chemical”, serotonin is one of the many brain chemicals. It is known to be responsible for happiness, fulfillment, maintaining a sleep schedule, sexual desire and well-being. Stating the obvious here: it’s essential.

Those who have a persistent lack of serotonin binding in the corresponding neural cavities experience what’s referred to as clinical depression (or Major Depressive Disorder). Psychologists often overmedicate for this disorder by using multiple antidepressants or SSRI’s. SSRI’s (short for selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) are a medication that claims to bind freely mingling serotonin to its respective cavities. This isn’t a pharmaceutical way of inducing serotonin; it simply takes what you already have and binds it to it’s home. Once this medication is prescribed and began, it can take anywhere from 4-8 weeks to show positive effects.

Not to mention that there are genetic predispositions people can carry that present a case of treatment-resistant depression, meaning that most forms of medical treatment will hardly improve the condition.

Let’s consider an individual with MDD, specifically treatment-resistant depression. They work 9:00-5:00 at a retail store and can’t seem to find simple hope for the day. They have social outlets, they exercise and even eat healthily. They lead what’s referred to as a normal life but can’t find fulfillment or happiness at any point thoughout the day. Thus, they are lacking motivation for life. They go home and turn to instant gratification activities that help supplement their lack of “feel good” brain chemicals.

These activities often include the following: binge eating junk food, spending hours on social media, video game addiction, social isolation, inconsistent sexual desires, etc. As you can see, most of these activities are simply a by-product of depression which is a by-product of a lack of serotonin.

During my depressive episode, I experienced a number of symptoms despite having been on SSRI’s for years. My depression got worse and worse. My subsequent instant-gratification activities became much more condensed and consistent. My life was falling apart because of a chemical. Then I decided to take my condition into my own hands. I would no longer be ridiculed by doctors or psychologists for my pre-disposition and my incapability to be happy. I would no longer tolerate being talked down to.

I broke free; I became me again. Stay tuned for more.

Stigmas and Signs of Depression

Often times we face our struggles alone and face extreme difficulty while doing so. We may find a sense of pride in the idea of facing these problems headstrong and feel like a failure if we fail or find out that we aren’t strong enough for them by ourselves. These feelings are completely normal and don’t make you an atypical person. Most people feel uncomfortable with reaching out for help because of their desire to “have it figured all out”, but in reality, we never ultimately figure it out.

The sad thing about suffering from a mental illness or dealing with something similar is that it’s often invisible and doesn’t profoundly show any physical manifestations, meaning there is no real evidence to support your claimed pain. This ideology has developed the stigma characterizing conversations about mental health to this exact date. So often phrases are uttered such as “Just get over it” or “It’ll pass”. The thing is, you can’t. Clinical depression is a state in which the person affected has very little power over their motivations and correlating life activities that it shows itself as “laziness”.

Society accepts this “lack of motivation”, but with a price. They say “He/she has really changed” being the acceptance component. The judgement follows: “They don’t care about anything anymore; they quit showing up to work and/or school; they don’t talk at all!”.

Now that all the problems with depression and society’s reaction have been stated, let’s focus on the one and only solution: reaching out. The bottom line is if nobody ever knows, nobody ever knows. And it’s really a shame that the person dealing with this type of disorder has to be the person to come out into the light and claim their struggles and advocate for themselves. We fear rejection, judgment, ridicule, denial and being outcast. We even lack motivation to talk about why we don’t have motivation. Ironic.

But don’t let this fear stop you from communicating. When I decided to tell people about my depression, I found it helpful to identify the next time I’d have a conversation with the desired party and how I would inform them. For some, this may create anxiety: but for me, it gave me a definite time and date that I would have to open up about this. I might even send out a text saying, “I’ve been meaning to talk to you about something really serious.” while I had the courage.

Opening up about your struggles is never easy, and it never will be. Although you expose yourself in an extensive way, you receive an opportunity for extreme acceptance and support. Many people have faced (or know someone who has faced) a very similar cry for help and are more than willing to extend their hand to you. Find your support group and begin your journey. I believe in you. I truly do.

If you want us to be that outlet for you, I’d be more than happy to talk with you. Strike up a conversation using collin.ullrich@stayforyourself.com. We are here to comfort and provide a safe place for you to vent. Share with a friend to send some encouraging light. Have a great day!