Effects of complaining versus gratitude on brain health
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the brain compared to other organs in the body is how readily it changes and evolves based on how we treat it. For instance, research shows that even how we think and see the world — whether we complain frequently or express gratitude regularly — can be the difference between accelerated brain degeneration or enhanced brain function.
Understandably, when you’re stuck in a depressed state it can seem impossible not to complain when you everything about life seems miserable. Functional neurology can help steer you to a healthier metabolic environment for your brain and rehabilitate areas of brain under activity or over activity so that you’re better able to practice healthy brain habits.
The effect of chronic complaining on the brain
Researchers have divided complainers into several categories: chronic complainers, attention seekers, and complainers who are oblivious to those around them.
Chronic complaining results from a brain mechanism called negative plasticity.
Plasticity is a term used in neurology to explain how we learn new things via communication between neurons. When you learn something new, such as a language, new pathways of communication begin developing in the brain.
The more you practice, the more efficient those pathways of communication become so that the new skill eventually becomes automatic. This conserves energy in the brain.
Unfortunately, plasticity can be negative too, making you more efficient at something that is harmful to your health. Examples include bad habits, addictions, stress, PTSD, and chronic complaining.
In other words, the more you complain, the more efficient your brain becomes at so that it becomes automatic.
As a result, you start to see life through a bleak lens and this will affect your behaviors and belief systems for the worse.
What’s worse, chronic complaining can raise your risk of dementia by releasing excess cortisol, a stress hormone, that more rapidly degenerates areas of the brain related to learning and memory.
Being positive takes more effort
Why does complaining and negativity come so easily? In what serves as a survival trait, our brains and bodies respond more actively and readily to negativity than positivity. This phenomenon is called negativity bias.
In studying negativity bias in couples, researchers found that partners in successful marriages naturally employed a five-to-one ratio of positivity to negativity in their interactions with one another.
In other words, it takes a lot more effort in a positive direction to prevent a slide into negative plasticity and the health fallouts from chronic complaining.
Some complaining is healthy and normal
This isn’t to say you should never complain or express negative emotions. Repression also raises stress levels and sabotages health.
Researchers have found the key is to stay mindful about your negative situations. Accepting the negative situation and feelings and consciously choosing to respond within a positive framework takes more work but will net more benefits.
Practice gratitude to positively rewire your brain
The research on the positive benefits of gratitude on the brain and body are extremely encouraging. But like all good things in life, they take work on your part.
One of the most reliable paths to positivity is gratitude. You can develop a more positive outlook by thinking of or writing down things in your life for which you are grateful.
A grateful attitude has been linked to less anxiety and depression, sounder sleep, kinder behavior, and overall better health. One study showed participants who wrote down five things for which they were grateful only once a week were happier, more optimistic, reported fewer physical problems, and exercised more compared to the control group. Similar results were reported in polio survivors who kept a gratitude journal.
Using functional neurology to help you get unstuck
When in the throes of depression, practicing positivity or gratitude can seem like a tall order. Sometimes, metabolic or neurological forces conspire against your desire to feel and function better, and this is where functional neurology can help.
You may have an inflammatory disorder or gut bacterial imbalance that is sabotaging your brain health. Likewise, food or chemical sensitivities, an undiagnosed or unmanaged autoimmune condition, hormonal deficiency, or chronic infection could be weighing you down. An area of your brain may be under firing or over firing, creating neurological disharmony that promotes depression and negativity. You may be struggling with PTSD, a brain injury, or some other brain disorder that is hindering your chances at a good mood.
Depression, constant complaining, and chronic negativity are red flags that something deeper needs to be addressed. Managing your brain health through functional neurology strategies can help provide a sound platform from which to employ positivity and gratitude practices that will unwind the negative plasticity and build positive plasticity for a healthier and happier you. Ask my office for more advice.
You can contact our office at 317-848-6000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vertigo can seem to come out of nowhere and feel life-threatening, making it scary to drive or walk down the stairs. The bad news is there are many causes of dizziness and it can take some sleuthing to figure out which one is affecting you. The good news is functional neurology can help you identify what kind of vertigo you have and help you quickly rehabilitate it.
For instance, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is one of the most common causes of dizzy spells and is easy to treat. By defining each word in this complex sounding condition, we can see it is not as grave as it sounds:
BPPV occurs when small crystals in the inner ear become dislodged and travel to areas in the ear canals where they don’t belong. In most cases the Epley maneuver or another similar maneuver can move the crystal back to where it belongs.
Sometimes vertigo can be caused when the individual eye muscles do not work together because one or more of them is weak. This weakness causes the eyes to move abnormally. This abnormal movement sends incorrect visual information to the brain and vestibular system, an area of the inner ear vital for balance. This can cause dizziness and light-headedness.
Although a person usually doesn’t notice this eye muscle weakness, in functional neurology we can spot it during a neurological exam and provide exercises that target areas needing rehabilitation.
The vestibular system plays an important role in balance and the prevention of vertigo. However, it is a fragile system and vestibular dysfunction is more common than people realize. For instance, if you’ve had a mild concussion, whiplash from a car accident, falls or hits from sports, or other impacts to the head or body, you may have damaged your vestibular system.
Inflammation or infection can also affect the vestibular system and provoke vertigo.
The cerebellum, an area at the base of the brain, works with the vestibular system in balance and the prevention of vertigo. If the cerebellum is damaged from a brain injury, stroke, or an autoimmune disease (a disorder in which the immune systemattacks and destroys tissue), this can cause dizziness.
Other symptoms of compromised cerebellum function may include poor balance, being unsteady on your feet, poor coordination, and anxiety (because the unsteadiness is a perceived as a constant stressor).
Other brain-related causes of dizziness can include an imbalance between the hemispheres of the brain or neck issues that hinder proper communication between the body and brain — always take whiplash seriously, it could impact your brain health.
If you are having dizzy spells, it’s important to identify the source of your vertigo because it will determine the best course of treatment. You need to know whether your vertigo stems from the vestibular system or the brain because each is rehabilitated differently.
Make note of other symptoms (below) you have in addition to vertigo; they can help your functional neurology doctor customize the right treatment for the cause of your dizziness.
Symptoms and signs often associated with vertigo, dizziness, and imbalance include: