Neuroscientist Tips: How To Fight Depression And Anxiety

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This terrible feeling, when scared about and without, when the world around us is crazy, forcing and aggravating, has become characteristic of modern man. We find out how to deal with it in conditions of information noise and games of our own brain.

In 2015, a neuroscientist, PhD, and writer Alexa Korb wrote a bestselling book about how general knowledge of neurophysiology can help fight depression and anxiety. “People often have moments when everything seems complicated and useless. Such sensations are just a by-product of the most complex interaction of the components of the general neural network of the body. For most, they pass very quickly, like a breath of wind. But each person’s neurophysiology is unique, so for some of us, depressive moments develop into long and difficult states, ”Korb writes in The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time. If you are one of the latter, or simply no longer able to withstand what is happening in the world, the scientist advises a small correction of lifestyle and behavior in order to influence the “neurochemical component of the activity of neurons”. All in order to overcome depression and anxiety.

Scientific explanations can be read in a book or articles by Korb, but we will stop on practical advice.

How does depression occur?

Korb compares depression to traffic jams in a big city that can move up and down. When a person is in a state of depression, this does not mean that any special processes occur in the body. It’s just that the brain develops the habit of reacting that way to certain situations or emotions. "And when such a regimen" turns on ", it produces dozens of micro-changes in the activity of the brain, generally directed in a downward spiral." But there is good news. Sometimes it’s enough to make changes to the “tuning” of one neural group in order to stop depression.

Before a list of effective measures, a neuroscientist advises you to determine if you have depression, or are you just blubby because of the dollar and bad news.

If you see five or more of these symptoms every day for about two weeks, you may suffer from a serious depressive disorder, the fewer matches, the better, of course:

Depressed mood, feeling of sadness and emptiness, increased irritability.

 Decrease in interest or feeling of pleasure in relation to almost all types of activity.

 Significant loss or weight gain, increase or decrease in appetite.

 Insomnia or excessive sleepiness.

 Constant alarming active or slowing reactions.

 Fatigue and energy loss.

 A sense of the futility of existence.

 Constant thoughts of death or suicide.


The occurrence of depression is influenced by numerous neural chains responsible for the operation of certain neurotransmitters – biologically active chemicals. Among them: serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, endorphin, melatonin, etc. That is why, when you are overtaken by a bad mood, try to be in the sunlight more often. It activates the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, and also promotes the production of melatonin, which improves sleep quality. If you are indoors for a long time, try to be outdoors at least a few minutes a day. “Take a walk, listen to light music, or simply expose your face to the sun,” the specialist advises.

Maintain emotional balance

Alex Korb recommends always remembering “here” and “now.” The author gives very valuable advice, if you listen to him, you can help yourself in the fight against anxiety: “Always pay attention to what is happening to you and around you here and now, and do not bother with what does not happen. Focusing on reality helps reduce the level of feelings and anxieties, because it reduces the effect of emotions on the ventromedial prefrontal zone (brain – approx. Ed.). Attention to what is happening here and now also activates the dorsolateral and ventrolateral zones of the prefrontal cortex, which “soothes” the amygdala. By increasing your ability to be in the present, which Buddhists call mindfulness, you strengthen the above processes and gain the possibility of long-term control over their experiences and anxieties. ”


The brain does not like inaction. It is activated along with the body. Therefore, exercise is the first cure for depression. Korb writes: “If you think of your physical activity not as exercises, but as pleasure, it will seem more attractive and bring emotional benefits. If you make it a habit at least three times a week to ride a bicycle to the office or play with friends in the park with frisbee, then you will perceive this not as something mandatory, but as a pleasant increase in your physical activity. ” In short, a clear association needs to be developed: training / activity equals pleasure. This is how a habit is formed that can cure many emotional ailments. Numerous studies have also shown that exercise promotes the growth of new neurons and the production of serotonin, the so-called “hormone of happiness”. They also improve sleep, which is very important for those who, due to anxiety or depression, lose the ability to “reset” their bodies at night.

Give the brain a “vacation”

Bad sleep has a depressing effect on thinking, worsens mood, lowers the threshold of pain sensitivity, interferes with learning ability and impairs memory. It also reduces the ability to concentrate and makes a person more impulsive, increases blood pressure, increases stress and suppresses the immune system. And bad sleep leads to an increase in body weight. How to fix this important process that gives our brains a break? You can start by improving overall sleep hygiene. Alex Korb advises the following: sleep eight hours a day; use your bed or bedroom only for sleeping, so that the brain associates this space only with relaxation, and not work and activity in the form of watching TV shows; Avoid caffeine before bedtime do not use alcohol as sleeping pills, because fast falling asleep caused by a glass of wine destroys the correct sleep architecture; eat right in the evening, do not eat much three hours before bedtime. And most importantly – “the brain as a result of activity leaves a lot of“ garbage ”, primarily in the form of decomposed neurochemical substances. Just like in your kitchen, these residues must be removed from the body, otherwise they will begin to accumulate and harm. In a dream, a similar “cleaning” plan takes place, which is extremely important for the normal functioning of the brain. The elimination of harmful substances is the factor that provides a valuable sense of recovery in the morning. ”

A complete collection of life-saving recipes for maintaining mental health can be found here: Alex Korb “At the Pastes of Depression. Yak podolati trevozhnіst і radіti zhitytyu ", Our Format.

See also: Psychologist's advice: How to stop being perfect and learn to live happily


                                                            Alex Korb

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