Why Making Our Brains Noisier Feels Good - Issue 96: Rewired - Nautilus - Deepstash
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The noise in our brains

The noise in our brains

With record-high instances of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse in the United States, and likely elsewhere, we still think antidepressants can be used to relieve some of the damage. But this may not be true. The use of antidepressants has inadvertently left many less able to feel empathy toward others, laugh, cry, dream, and enjoy life when we need it most.

A theory of brain function involving serotonin may point a way forward for effective treatment.

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Reducing treatment-resistant depression

Impressive results have been found by using psychedelics, such as the psilocybin found in "magic mushrooms." A 2017 study showed a decrease in depressive symptoms of treatment-resistant individuals one week after their dose.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging used during the process shows that the mechanism of action is directly related to the increase in spontaneous brain fluctuations.

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Spontaneous brain fluctuations

When our mind wanders, sleeps, or is under anaesthesia, our neurons are still firing all over the brain.

But through trauma, our spontaneous fluctuations can fall into negative resting-state patterns, almost like water that runs into a ditch. Antidepressants either cut off this water flow or reduce the functional connectivity, leaving around 70 percent of people who take antidepressants feeling an "emotional numbness".

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REM sleep increase spontaneous fluctuations

Research shows that REM dreaming plays a vital role in regulating negative emotions and depression. Dreaming increases spontaneous fluctuations.

However, antidepressants, anti-anxiety agents, and many sleeping pills interfere with REM sleep and dreaming.

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Spontaneous fluctuations used as treatment

Neuroscientists have found that cognitive fluctuations are not only tolerated by neurons but that neurons amplify them and use the noisiness to create novel solutions to complex problems.

Researchers use studies of this noise in the brain to approach mental health treatment in new ways. Instead of reducing the noise with antidepressants, they are trying to increase them. This led to marked improvements and significant relief from depression and anxiety.

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Flux therapy

With so many people dealing with mental health issues, we need safe and reliable mental health solutions.

Getting plenty of REM sleep and having dreams unhindered by alcohol, ibuprofen can help. Even looking at natural fractals, like trees and plants, can contribute to flux therapy.

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