The effect of personal narratives on our mental health

Mental health is intimately connected to neuroscience, which is the science that studies the nervous system from multiple perspectives. It refers to well-being, to the ability to feel capable and effective in what we do, to have a perception of autonomy, to feel fulfilled both intellectually and emotionally and to have a constructive interdependence with the generations that precede us and those that succeed us. All these things begin to be built and consolidated from the womb and continue their development throughout life. In anxiety disorders, there is an exaggerated functioning of the limbic system (responsible for the processing of emotions) in the face of certain stimuli causing people to create them dangerous and adopt a response of flight, momentary paralysis or struggle. In depression, among other things, there is a decrease in serotonin, the hormone involved in the production of well-being. In psychoses, there is also evidence of changes in brain functioning. They are not all the same, but in most there is a decrease in dopaminergic transmission during development, which is noticed only from adolescence when, certain areas of the cortex claim those connections to continue with development. This is when delusions and hallucinations appear. 

But diseases aside, our mental health manifests itself in various ways and they all depend on brain functioning. Simply because both our actions, our thinking and emotional life emanate from the functioning of the brain. To account for the complexity of the way people do and feel both as individuals and in social contexts, Neuroscience advanced towards perspectives that integrate the affective, social and cognitive dimensions. As the level of information is excessive, the mind tends to decrease the flow of information using simplifying recipes. Thus, as we begin to repeat experiences and assimilate the recipes that worked well, the mind begins to put together its manual of golden rules. For each similar situation, you will activate the behavior pattern corresponding to the simplified recipe. Brain plasticity is the key to improving our mental health. Some of these schemes are not entirely useful for the situations that are presented to us. Maybe they once were and they remained as a rule in the manual of the mind. We use these rules unconsciously and that is why many times we do not notice that they are the ones that produce a decrease in well-being, a lower perception of personal fulfillment or perhaps, problems in relationships with other people. All our beliefs are installed in this way. That’s why it’s important to be careful about the things we say to ourselves. Sometimes, it is our own stories that put the brakes on our possibilities or that lead us to feel sadness. If we think that we are not able to perform a task, even if we are or believe that others do not want us even if it is not true, we will be unable to fulfill the task and we will feel sadness for not being loved. Personal narratives have a powerful effect on our mental health. Dr. Gabriela Gonzalez Alemán, neuroscientist and founder of Brainpoints (MN 33343) Instagram: @brainpoints.

Original source in Spanish

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