Imagine a person, physically and emotionally healthy, totally happy with life. Though an perfect picture, this picture, if real, could be of someone that has their hormonal and neurotransmitter systems in a balanced condition. The neuroendocrine balance is represented by a suitable feedback between sympathetic and parasympathetic systems in this individual.
Physiologically, the equilibrium of various systems inside the body can be known on the basis of electromagnetism (e.g. ECG, EEG), or amounts of elements, hormones, enzymatic secretions or metabolic products. Whenever their levels become abnormal, the body tends to become imbalanced in some predictable ways causing a condition of illness. Physical conditions can be quantified in above terms.But dimensions of psychological conditions were till lately unacceptable from the above terms.
It is a psychological condition (also having physical effects) in which a man or woman is unhappy, with lack of concentration, power and ability to enjoy life. There’s an accompanying obvious physiological imbalance within the body systems. Autonomic disturbances and increased amounts of cortisol are characteristic features of depression. Depression is a condition of stress where the body (and the mind) is uncomfortable.
This discomfort is a result of a “perceived” threat to the human body or a part of the body. In the course of Nature, the human body and mind would love to “undo” the effects of “perceived threat”. With sympathetic stimulation, the senses of perception – such as hearing, vision, taste, touch and smell – become sharper. The sensory input to the brain increases. Constant bombardment of the mind through stimulations from hypersensitive senses, creates “information overload” of the mind.
We perceive this condition as stressful. In melancholy, this perception is because of conditioned responses to sensory cues. These responses generate characteristic physiological responses in different systems within the body, as advocated by a miserable individual. Aside from treating the consequent neurotransmitter imbalance with antidepressants, cognitive therapy can help a depressed person change body’s physiological responses.
Meditational practices are also valuable. They sometimes involve”doing nothing” emotionally and emotionally. This process of switching off emotionally and physically even for a brief time cuts off the sensory stimuli that reach the brain in depression, creating sensory overload. This relaxes the nervous system. This comfort is transmitted to the other elements of the body, that react with developing a further state of relaxation.
As the sympathetic tone is diminished, the parasympathetic tone increases, creating a balance between the two. Emotional arousal may also happen when a depressed person relaxes. This stimulation sometimes needs active treatment before the equilibrium in physiology could be established. Treatment methods to reduce this stimulation are beyond the scope of this report.
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All meditative practices have a tendency to slow down body’s metabolic activities by directly or indirectly affecting hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis. As catabolism, leading to anxiety diminishes, anabolism increases. This is mediated by spontaneous and corresponding parasympathetic stimulation. Slowing down of heart rate, lowering of blood pressure, boosting of immune system, glycogenesis and lowering of cholesterol levels in blood tend to happen. Some meditative practices involve breathing exercises.
They generally involve repetitively taking in a deep breath and exhaling slowly. This action in itself reduces the workload of the lungs. 0.5 litres). Each heavy breath slows the circulation of blood in the pulmonary vein, which slows down atrial filling and subsequent ventricular filling. This slows down the heart rate without affecting cardiac output.
With deep breathing, stretch receptors on the lungs excite afferents into vagus nerve. Efferents from vagus nerve to the heart further slow down the center. Peripheral vessels are dilated consequently. This lowers the blood pressure. Consequently, the physiological reactions of different systems in the body slow down. The hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis perceives the situation as a non-stress circumstance. Therefore, ACTH secretion diminishes. This explanation is a simple overview of the mechanics involved.
Prayer and religious practices have long been proven to work destress methods. The physiological mechanisms weren’t understood till recently. Recent advances have demonstrated the efficacy of spiritual practices in maintaining physical and psychological wellbeing. It was confirmed the positive effects of meditation in maintaining good health, particularly by changing the heart, the immune reaction and neuropeptides. There have been many other researches in this area, which have clinically demonstrated the positive effects of religious practices on human health. The future of psychiatry is in supplying treatment with restricted medication.