Okay, I’m sure you’re thinking, “Come on, Lo. What the hell are you talking about?” Hold your horses, my friends, because I promise this will be relevant.
About a month ago, I read a book called Zen and the Art of Happiness by Chris Prentiss, and one of the things he mentioned really struck me. He talked about something called neuropeptides, and how they have something to do with our emotions. (This is a very basic recollection since I don’t have the book near me right now.) He mentioned it only briefly, but it was enough to light a fire of curiosity in me. But like it sometimes happens, I sort of forgot about it until just now when I started reading the book Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing by Caroline Myss. Because within in the first chapter, neuropeptides came up!
Okay, so, neuropeptides can be described like this: they are the tiny pieces of protein that are produced in the brain, but you can find them all over your body and are attached to your cells. These peptides can be anything from endorphins (your happy hormones), serotonin (your feel-good chemicals), to vasopressin which regulates blood pressure, and even insulin. So, it’s easy to say that they can do a lot for your body. But the most interesting thing is that these same chemicals that run our minds and bodies are the same chemicals that are involved with our emotions. These neuropeptides are constantly changing, which can highly reflect the changes in our emotional states throughout the day. Dr. Candace Pert says that our emotions reside within our bodies physically and they interact with all of our other cells. She even says that our body can physically show symptoms of particular emotions produced by these peptides even before we have mentally registered that the feeling is happening.
Each emotion is associated with a particular peptide. So if we have the tendency to feel an emotion such as sadness, depression, anxiety, etc..our body will actually accommodate by producing more peptides that associate with that feeling. Makes sense, right? The more depressed you feel, the more your body will make cells that make you feel more of that. Here is an example of how these emotions can affect your body physically: Let’s say you are experiencing fear or anxiety. Stress makes your body react in a sort of “fight or flight” and creates adrenaline which then prepares your bodily systems to deal with what they feel is a danger. This can make your muscles contract, your blood pressure rise, and breathing rate skyrocket. If you stay in this heightened state of alert for a long enough period of time, you can have physical damage: such as gain a problem with high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, heart problems, memory, digestion and of course, mood.
Fun fact: our body creates an entirely new system of cells every 2 months.
SO: if you’re depressed for a long period of time, your body can literally make an entire cell system entirely of those negative feeling peptides.
Now think if you’re depressed for months at a time, how much your body will physically deteriorate. It’s why when we feel depressed, we’re exhausted and can even cause us to feel sick.
I just found all of this incredibly interesting, and maybe it can shed some light for you as well!