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Conscious Living Health & wellness

America’s Mental Health- Part 2

December 28, 2017

America’s Mental Health- Part 2

Opioid Epidemic

Opioids function by reducing the intensity of pain signals reaching the brain and affects areas of the brain that control emotion, which diminishes the effects of painful stimuli. Opioid medications attach to opioid receptors in the brain as a way to mask the painful feelings caused by mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Prolonged exposure to these medications may lead to serious side effects like depressed respiration, which affects the amount of oxygen reaching the brain, a condition known as hypoxia. Extended opioid use may also lead to the deterioration of white matter in the brain, causing interference in decision-making abilities and the ability to regulate proper response to stressful situations.

Americans take more prescription medications today than at any other time in history. Prescription drug use rose eighty-five percent between 1997 and 2016, reaching over 4.5 billion prescriptions a year. More than half of all opioid prescriptions filled in the United States are written for people with anxiety, depression, ADD/ADHD, and other mood disorders. Psychiatric opioids are highly addictive and prolonged exposure may produce neurological changes that may begin to build a tolerance in the body and allow for dependence on the drug to occur in individuals suffering from mood disorders.

As the effects of opioids wear off and the pain returns, users seek greater amounts and stronger forms of medication in order to receive the same effect, creating a compulsive, drug-seeking environment in the body. Individuals taking an antidepressant for too long may begin to rely on their medications too much to improve their mental state, inevitably falling into a cycle of greater depressive episodes and dependence on prescription pills just to reach baseline happiness.

Doctors and pharmaceutical companies are failing in the fight against opioid addiction with the creation of drugs like Suboxone, choosing instead, profit incentivized and temporary solutions. Suboxone is an opioid pill medication intended to stop people from taking other opioid pill medications. Side effects of Suboxone include fever, headaches, dizziness, confusion, vomiting, blurred vision, and irregular breathing. America is trapped in a culture of sickness when we are incapable of addressing a deadly epidemic without inventing more ways to make us sick.

One-in-six American adults take a psychiatric drug or sedative to treat a mood disorder, with antidepressants- known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)- being the most common, followed by anxiety relievers and antipsychotics. The most prescribed antidepressant/anti-anxiety and sedatives are Zoloft, Prozac, Cymbalta, Celexa, Paxil, and Xanax. SSRIs function by increasing the levels of the neurotransmitter, serotonin, in the brain. Serotonin contributes to feelings of happiness and well-being by regulating mood in the Central Nervous System.

Opioid Function

Antidepressants and sedatives can help reduce the negative thoughts and feelings caused by depression and anxiety when supplemented with a change in attitude and an alteration of the everyday actions and interactions that an individual engages in. It is important to first address the underlying cause of unhappiness and negative feelings before considering a psychiatric medication. If possible, make changes that stamp out these negative thoughts and feelings and do things that create serotonin in the brain in a natural way. Do things that foster a feeling of happiness, self-fulfillment, and purpose in the body. Create the life you want to live and surround yourself with people that motivate and inspire you.

When properly taken for a short period of time, psychiatric drugs can have a positive impact on an individual’s life that allows for them to gain back control of their mind, escape from the darkness of their negative thoughts and feelings, and reintegrate back into society. However, these medications must be the last resort after all other forms of treatment have been exhausted. The human body and brain are capable of self-correcting and regulating the thoughts and feelings of individuals if that person chooses to create a positive environment for these feelings to thrive and serotonin to flow in an organic way. A healthy diet, exercise, and a reason to wake up in the morning, excited and filled with meaning and purpose, are the greatest motivators for biological organisms to alter the course of the negative thoughts and find a balance in their lives.

When we set up arbitrary financial boundaries and checkpoints in society, we inevitably define ourselves by the money and status that we do not possess, rather than by the wealth of life experience that we live each day. The external goals that we allow others to subject our minds to, take precedence over the more important internal goals that we create for ourselves, which leads us down the path of negative thoughts and feelings when we are unable to meet the low social and financial standards of others. When we escape from behind the prisons of our minds and open ourselves up to a world of possibilities, we become apertures for the universe to reflect all of its beauty. This change begins with the thoughts, feelings, and actions that are within our control and ends when we learn to ignore the negativity and standards set by society.

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