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The Social Brain Hypothesis for Depression

Depression and the Social Brain

 

New Causes Or Cures podcast posted: The Social Brain Hypothesis for Depression

Anyone who struggles with depression or knows someone who struggles with depression should listen to this podcast. We don’t talk enough, if at all, about the social brain hypothesis for depression, yet we should, because  it could help a lot of people who are currently struggling. That includes people of any sex, age, occupation and relationship status. I’ve received a few phone calls from folks who listened to this podcast and thanked me. They were trying to manage their own depression, or a loved one’s, and looking for new answers, because the medication we have for depression doesn’t offer the best long-term outcomes and has a lot of side effects to consider, including withdrawal syndrome.

Dr. Douglas Watt is a forensic neuropsychologist with over 30 years of clinical practice. He has degrees from Harvard and Boston College, has served as the director of clinical psychology in two Boston teaching hospitals and has been on the faculty of the Boston University School of Medicine for 15 years. He teaches classes on affective neuroscience and its implications. He’s also a prolific writer and has written numerous articles on this topic ( the social brain hypothesis for depression) and others.

In this podcast, Dr. Watt joins Dr. Stair to discuss the Social Brain Hypothesis for Depression and why he believes depression is an evolutionary shut-down mechanism, the chemical imbalance theory is reductive at best,  and why conventional antidepressants fall short. He discusses what social rejection and loss of relationships does to us neurologically and why folks with an impaired capacity to make meaningful social attachments can become addicted to social media as a failed replacement for real-life intimate connections. In other words, our social media connections won’t help. Finally, he discusses why playfulness is a great promoter of intimacy, play as a mammilian prototype, our current play deficit and what we can do to fix it.

This is a longer podcast, but it’s full of wise gems. I know our society doesn’t like to focus on one topic for a prolonged period of time, but I  highly, highly, highly recommend listening to at least some of it. Depression and chronic loneliness are both increasing around the globe, and Dr. Watt offers a solid reason why. I implore you to listen to it if you struggle with depression! Truly.

I don’t make it a secret that I struggled immensely with my depression in my twenties. While that used to be a common decade for struggling with depression, I think it’s happening frequently at any age now. I also struggled with finding a path to recovery and, frankly, conventional wisdom failed me. I learned nothing about The Social Brain, but I wish I did, because it would have helped.  All anyone did was offer me text-book therapy lines that I already knew and throw pills at me. If I compared my path to recovery to a biking trip, I started out on the standard, well-marked conventional and paved road. I followed the rules and kept going for a while, but couldn’t ignore a gut feeling that I wasn’t feeling better. In fact, I felt worse. An inner force compelled me to swerve off the conventional road and head into the unmarked woods, where I found myself surrounded by brush, weeds and trees. I moved forward on my bike, only to hit trees, crash down hills, get bit by mosquitoes and meet complicated beings along the way who had their own vices and struggles. Confusion, scratches, feeling lost, bruises, undoing, doing…but the most remarkable thing was that I wasn’t actually tripping aimlessly through the woods. I was forging my own path to recovery. And when convention fails you in a big way, forging your own path is the only option. I wrote about that time in my life in my book Manic Kingdom. Hope you read it and hope you listen to this podcast.  

 

Other Causes Or Cures Podcasts:

One doctor’s struggle with Benzodiazepines

Wireless Technology and Our Increased Risk of Brain and Heart Cancer: An Interview with Dr. Fiorella Belpoggi

Opioids or Marijuana? What it’s like to be a Spoonie.

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