Monday, 1 December 2014

ED and BDNF: The Importance of Healthy Feelings and Thoughts

Let me introduce you to BDNF: brain-derived neurotrphic factor (that is a mouthful to say!). BDNF promotes brain cell growth (neurons), but can be reduced by certain events. For example, stress decreases BDNF. In fact, depression is strongly related to levels of BDNF, with lower levels detected in depressed patients. Some have suggested that some of the symptoms associated with depression - such as low mood, sadness, stress, irritability, and frustration - are related to low BDNF levels. Now, studies show that patients with ED may also have low levels of BDNF. (http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract;jsessionid=67EDD887B3EFB3669B117B672214531D.journals?fromPage=online&aid=5556328)

What does this mean? First, it may help us to understand why people who suffer with ED have periods of depression or sadness/stress. Depression is common in ED, although it might not even be clinically diagnosed. For example, I did not have CLINICAL depression in the sense that it was not bad enough to be diagnosed as such. However, there were many days when I was ill when I felt sad. angry, and truly thought that I would be better off dead. Although there are many reasons for this (serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, BDNF, the environment, etc), this new finding helps us to further understand why ED is so difficult. Not only is the patient physically ill, but their brains are undergoing so many changes that leave them vulnerable to low moods, feelings of sadness, tiredness, frustration, and hopelessness.

From a clinical perspective, this lets us understand what we need to include when treating patients with ED. Although food is important, I am a firm believer that the patient's mental and emotional well-being must be addressed as well. To me, this means that we need to help the patient feel better. This can be done using medicine (if appropriate), but I think it also needs a bit more than that. BDNF, for example, can decrease in response to stress, sadness, despair, and weakness. On the other hand, studies show that in ED, this is temporary and can be reversed if addressed quickly enough and with evidence-based measures. What does this mean? It can mean putting the patient in therapy, supporting them with family/loved ones, playing games with them, taking them out, etc. (The image to the right shows various aspects of health - it is much more than just physical. All of these domains are equally vital to living a healthy, happy life).

For me, one of the worst parts about ED was that many people who tried to help me recover did not understand how my mental and emotional health were functioning during this time. Yes, I completely agree that food is important. and I am NOT saying that you can recover without normalizing meal patterns. But what bothered me is that not many people (including health professionals) tried to help my emotional/mental state.  If you find a trained, therapist, I say GOOD! Go for it, and continue. Make sure your team helps not only the physical, but also the MENTAL and EMOTIONAL aspects of ED as well. To those of you helping someone with ED, try to understand that this poor victim is suffering from multiple things - they are scared, tired, feel alone, and their brain 'chemicals' (neurotransmitters like BDNF) are all over the place! Patients with ED need you to understand that they are more than just their illness, and they need more than food and weight. They need ways to find happiness again, to bring joy into their lives, and hopefully, to fix the mess of neurotransmitters in their brains.

Nearly thee years later after recovery, I can say that I am doing A LOT better. Granted, there are times when I feel 'icky'. Other times I just want to cry because of stress or frustration - but who doesn't have these days? I have also been successful with helping others around me understand what is occurring with my emotions and thoughts. Now, my family understands that they need to care for ALL of me - not just my weight, food intake, etc - but also my feelings, listening to my stories and thoughts, etc. I can now freely talk about my emotions and help myself feel better. I can identify negative thoughts and work to resolve them. I do not know how my BDNF levels are doing, but I DO know that I am much, much happier than I ever was for the last five or seven years. See? Recovery really does happen! It did not come without a long fight, and it isn't always easy. But it is these moments that give me the hope, strength, courage, faith, motivation, and will to keep going.
Recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. It is a journey, not a destination. Keep going!

58 comments:

  1. I am a med student and I never heard of BDNT

    Thanks for great post Marina
    You are always uptodate and info here are very credible

    Penny

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  2. That is a execellent post Marina

    Helga

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  3. Yes Marina
    I had symptoms of depression even before I started dieting and lasted even after I started eating and treating my ED .I am recovered now from ED and from depression and anxiety.
    Thanks to you.

    Anne

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  4. BDNF can explain most mental health illnesses.

    CJ(RN)

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  5. WOW Marina
    You must be a psychologist !!

    Kelly William
    Therapist TO

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  6. I love the wheel


    Hend

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  7. The brain factor is very interesting that is why our feeling gives us physical symptoms

    Solomon

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  8. This is true for me when I feel good ,I feel all my body the best health .

    Delfina

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  9. What a wonderful analogy
    Yes our brain is the garden and our thoughts can either chooe to grow flowers or weeds

    Mira

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  10. Food nourish the flesh and support and comfort nourish the soul

    San

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  11. If you are a positive person, You will succeed and have a happy life.

    Sebastian

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  12. Positivity and hopefulness is my key to success

    Clorado

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  13. What a wonderful post

    Kapoor

    ReplyDelete
  14. I am very proud of your blog and this post

    Anastashia

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  15. Since I have come across your blog my garden growing flowers and no more weeds

    Gerry

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  16. You feel the recovery and how much different from the illness now after recovery.

    Anand

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  17. You are a leader in recovery

    Marvlyn

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  18. Your positivity and commitemnt paid of with the best ever wish RECOVERY

    Melano

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  19. Having talent and supportive team made a big difference in your recovery and your BDNF


    Shady

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  20. ED is not about food and nutrition only <it is a mental illness and this means emotions,feelings ,fears and stress and support all affect the person.
    If you address the feelings and emotions you cure 80% and the person will eat normally and perminenet complete recovery will ensue.
    I am right Marina


    Penny
    med student

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  21. You are truely MS Hope

    Mary
    Mississauga

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  22. Having support not only help ED or mental health but help people recover from even cancer.


    Jack

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  23. Stress lower BDNF and support up it

    Zak

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  24. Attitude, support offset stress and promote BDNF

    Hamza

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  25. Surrounding ourselves with positive and supportive people very helpful for our wellbeing.

    Kelly W

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  26. Talking about our feeling is the most important as you always say Marina

    Sally

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  27. Yes Marina
    Optimism, good attitude ,support, good nutrition, sleep and just being active all enhance our health and happiness.

    With my humble respect

    Muhammad

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  28. Brain even control our happiness

    Jenn
    Welland

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  29. my garden full of flowers and not weed ,so I must have more BDNF

    Razan

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  30. The smiling picture with nice glassess and extended arm making my day happy.

    Zollinger

    ReplyDelete
  31. Our positivity help our brain and feelings

    Moser

    ReplyDelete
  32. I know my brain is the master of my success and also health and happiness.
    I will do every thing possible to nurture and protect my head and brin

    Ruth Hare

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  33. Wonderful explainations


    Hillary

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  34. Your garden is full of nice flowers.Please keep it well for ever not only for you but it shed light on others.


    Randy

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  35. I am positive

    Gladys

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  36. My garden will never grow weed because I look after it very well

    Raja

    ReplyDelete
  37. I bet not many doctors know about BDNT
    I asked my doc and he does not know

    Lenus

    ReplyDelete
  38. I like the brain NDNF

    Oswaldo

    ReplyDelete
  39. What a great info

    Mubayed

    ReplyDelete
  40. You are the Garden Of Eden

    Sorina

    ReplyDelete
  41. Optimism grows flowers and lighten up our life


    Rodica

    ReplyDelete
  42. Your garden shedding the light on many

    Fernandez

    ReplyDelete
  43. Your strong belief reflecting positively on your life and you shine to others

    De Jesus

    ReplyDelete
  44. I command you for your hard word work and sending message of hope to others.

    Rana

    ReplyDelete
  45. Your positive blog produce positive flowers and fruits for many readers.
    We appreciate this

    Vuk

    ReplyDelete
  46. You are a blessed seed
    May God bless you more
    CJ(RN)

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  47. I give you credit for this NDNF info

    Hamza

    ReplyDelete
  48. Supportive people are helpful than doctors who are harsh

    Andy

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  49. For me giving me support and comfort is more helpful than food as if I feel supported I eat better and continuing to nourish my body while feeling better.

    Nanaraj

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  50. I believe is giving all the comfort and support to others ,at least smile and good attitude .
    This can make a difference in their health and cost us nothing.

    Sam Ibrahim

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  51. Your garden shading on others and giving light to many

    Tomzala

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  52. We are big babies.
    If you want a baby to be healthy physically and mentally ,you feed them love ,care in addition to food.
    We are same as babies .
    Please my supporter feed me love and care



    Mester

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  53. I am blessed to have a mother who still treating me like a baby with care and understnading .
    This ,trust me ,helping me more than my antidpessant .


    Mays

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  54. Our brain can protect us from mood swings by NDNF as long as We are able to get the basic needs from food and support and sleep .
    without the support I got from family and a friend I never met like you ,I wouldnt have made my full recovery .

    Anne

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  55. The smiling girl picture boost by BDNF and jsut looking at her make me feel very good,

    Smile ,laugh as much as you can


    Bibawi

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  56. For more than 2 years now ,We have seen your garden grows only flowers .
    This is the benift of complete recovery.


    Mary
    Mississauga

    ReplyDelete
  57. Remeber you are making a difference .
    I have different kind of struggle than you and others but I get strengh from reading about your story and how you making a difference


    Morandan

    ReplyDelete
  58. Thank you everyone, and excellent thoughts on BDNF, emotions, and health!

    ReplyDelete

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