P is for Plasticity

I had a plethora of “P” words; Prozac, psychology, psychiatry, polarized thinking, phobias, panic attacks, perfectionism, pet therapy, powerlessness, Post Partum Depression and Psychotic Depression. I think this was the longest list of options I’ve had for any letter. The problem is, none of them inspired me. Well, that’s not true, I wrote about perfectionism and pet therapy recently. I was actually pretty happy with my perfectionism post. Read it if you get a chance.

Finally, I stumbled over plasticity, which I thought was a good word. Plasticity is the ability to be malleable and resilient. It was once thought that the mature brain was fixed, unable to repair damage. This is no longer the case, science has shown that the brain changes throughout life. It is plastic. Learning a new skill like a language for example, causes new connections between neurons to be made in the language area of the brain. This takes mere minutes. If you don’t use what you have learned and forget, the brain shrinks and and those connections are lost.

It has been shown that those who suffer from chronic stress, like those with anxiety and depression, have less brain plasticity. The hippocampus, the area of the brain for learning and memory, is highly influenced by stress hormones. Under chronic stress, the neurons in that part of the brain retract causing connects to be fewer and less efficient. This coincides with the difficulties in concentrating and remembering experienced by those with depression.

The damage caused by stress is not permanent though. Things like exercise and socializing can improve the connections in your brain. People with depression can have recovery of their lost connections through treatment with antidepressants that promote neurogenesis (the growth of neurons). Studies have shown that recovery from anxiety/depression with selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) coincides with the formation of new neurons in the hippocampus.

portrait 2

This has nothing to do with anything, but “Portrait” is a “P” word, so here it is.

14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. suesconsideredtrifles
    Apr 18, 2014 @ 08:32:30

    A nice positive P post! Sue


  2. Birgit
    Apr 18, 2014 @ 13:23:33

    I did not know that about Plasticity. It makes sense and may explain my difficulty in school where I often blanked out when it came to tests etc… but I had a lot of stress due to severe bullying


  3. RZT
    Apr 18, 2014 @ 15:15:49

    I am not one for socializing, I believe playing music is seriously good for brains, although I think what i do is more make a lot of noise.

    I like the Portrait . . . sparkly eyes and happy . . . . . . Well Cool……


  4. nembow
    Apr 18, 2014 @ 17:33:58

    Great stuff! My ‘depression years’ are a bit of a blank to me, but my brains definitely better than it was at remembering and learning stuff. Not sure it’ll ever be back to what it was, but that could just be because I’m getting older! Thanks for sharing. ๐Ÿ™‚


  5. Cheryl Wright
    Apr 19, 2014 @ 04:24:04

    Very informative blog post! Enjoyed reading your “P” post!


  6. liane {meraki geek}
    Apr 20, 2014 @ 13:44:28

    Opened up this post again and wanted to say how much I love your portrait! It really shows a beautiful, happy, and content woman. Very nice portrait!


  7. Finding Postives
    Apr 20, 2014 @ 20:36:27

    Wow! I felt so dumb reading this post!! HA! You are clearly a very clever woman with a great ability to explain stuff – thank you for enlightening me. Great post!


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