Q: Someone recently told me that I could contribute to my own depression by a negative mindset. Is that possible?
A: According to Dr. Restak in his book Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot, studies have shown that your thoughts can impact your brain's chemistry. When non-depressed volunteers thought sad or depressing thoughts, brain changes indicative of depression occurred. In initial stages at least, negative thoughts and attitudes alter brain function unfavorably. (As the depression deepens, this sequence may change with the dysfunctional brain producing increasingly depressive thoughts.)
Mental states can alter your brain chemicals. A negative mindset has been associated with neurotransmitter changes and with immune system suppression. When levels of neurotransmitters fall or are out of balance, you can increase your risk for depression. For example:
- Noradrenaline helps to regulate your mood. Feelings of hopelessness are associated with lowered levels of noradrenaline.
- Dopamine helps you to experience pleasure. Feelings and perceptions of inability to cope are associated with decreased levels of dopamine.
- Serotonin helps you to experience joy. Unmanaged anger, fear, and sadness are associated with lowered levels of serotonin.
In some cases, psychological distress may trigger chemical imbalances. This means that your mental attitude is important! And you're the only one who can actually make the choice to develop and maintain a positive mindset.