How you can use brain rewiring to treat depression
Brain rewiring is a term that people use with therapies such as NLP and hypnotherapy. Brain rewiring is a way to explain the neuroplasticity of your brain. Your brain constantly changes and adapts, in response to your experiences. Although your brain is an organ and not a muscle, it works in a similar way to a muscle, so you have the power to train it as you do muscles.
What is brain rewiring?
When I explain this to clients, I like to use the example of someone who learns a new language. If they move to the country and speak the new language every day, they’ll become so accustomed to speaking it that It becomes second nature, and some people even report dreaming in the new language.
Then they move to the original country and revert to their mother tongue. They find less opportunity to speak the ‘new’ language and find it harder to access the words. It takes longer to form sentences, and they might even forget some words. The brain transforms as you use it, growing new pathways, strengthening and weakening current pathways to help you thrive.
Typically, the brain responds better to activities with greater reward. Therefore, some things seem easier to store, in fact, some things seem to stick even when you don’t want them to. Other things take longer and more effort.
Depression and brain rewiring
Depression is something that happens for reasons so complex, even neuroscientists haven’t nailed it. Some people feel some form of depression throughout life, others are caught completely off guard with no prior experience, and for some people, there is an obvious trigger. There is no clear-cut explanation of what happens in the brain to cause depression, and therefore no one method fits all fixes. There are however certain things that will reduce the symptoms of depression and potentially help the pathways in the brain change to improve your life.
Many studies show that exercise - aerobic, resistance and mind-body - all improve symptoms and severity of depression. Exercise reshapes the depressed brain, somehow activating the function of related brain areas. Improves your brain’s ability to adapt behaviour according to the environment, and helps maintain white matter in your brain. White matter plays an important role in mood. It also helps you focus and problem-solve.
You don’t have to join the gym to exercise. Start slowly with a daily, gentle walk from your house. In time, you might find it exhilarating to search out a hike in an open space. This will give you the benefits of nature, increase your heart rate, and give you time for active meditation. The internet is a great source of workouts. It’s easy to find videos to follow in the privacy of your own home.
A study exploring meditation and brain function suggests meditation generates neuroplasticity - obstructing destructive emotions and nurturing positive ones. Imagery of a brain in the meditative state showed high levels of activity in the left prefrontal cortex. The test subject used compassion meditation, with a focus on compassionate thoughts for specific individuals, all of humankind or other species. The high levels of activity in the left prefrontal cortex indicate a high level of happiness.
Neuroplasticity is the official term for the brain’s ability to ‘rewire’ itself as it changes and molds in response to its experiences. Researchers believe that as meditation promotes neuroplasticity and specific meditations increase the levels of happiness, meditation might help people rewire their brain and increase happiness or reduce the symptoms of depression.
Meditation is something you can practice at home every day. Hypnosis generates the same state of mind as meditation. A hypnotherapist will help you learn self-hypnosis techniques, so you can use the powerful state of mind to rewire your own brain.
Sleep is one of the most important things we do as humans. We evolved over millions of years (and continue to do so) to behave in the way most likely to help us thrive. Sleep puts us in the most vulnerable position. Unable to detect danger, free to predators. If sleep was not necessary, evolution would almost certainly have gotten rid of it.
While you sleep, lots happens within your brain. Primarily, it clears all the rubbish out from the day, detoxifying and refreshing for the next period of wakefulness. Your brain consolidates memories and integrates any new learning.
Ironically, in one-third of people (studied), one night of sleep deprivation reduced the symptoms of depression. Sleep is so important and easy to disrupt, it’s not advisable to attempt this without the support of a sleep clinic. And for two-thirds of patients, the opposite occurs. Sleep positively rewires your brain every time you experience it. You should take seven to nine hours of sleep opportunity each night. Without sleep, your brain will not fulfil its functions, and you’ll suffer. A sleep-informed hypnotherapist will help you get a full night’s sleep every night.
Rewiring your brain with the help of hypnotherapy
Rewiring your brain is something you do unintentionally every day. When you add positive intent to your actions, you empower yourself to rewire your brain in a way that can reduce your symptoms of depression. A hypnotherapist will help you do this in sessions and give you ideas of things you can do every day at home to continually improve your quality of life.