Asperger Syndrome is an Autism Spectrum Disorder (or Pervasive Developmental Disorder) characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviors and interests. Those with Asperger Syndrome, or AS, may exhibit a lack of empathy for their peers, clumsiness, and atypical use of language, though none of these symptoms are required for a diagnosis.1
The pain of coming to terms with having Asperger's is still very real for me right now. There is a tremendous sense of grief. Grief for all that I suffered through to try to be "normal" and grief for how short of "normal" I always have been. There is also great relief to know that I am not crazy and that not everything can be traced back to an abusive past in the sense that some of what I experience is not choice/emotional but neurons/physical. The greatest challenge I face right now is trying to figure out which is which. This is not easy.
One of the most common side effects of a number of antidepressant medications is loss of sex drive. I could forgive our friends at fine companies such as Eli Lilly, Bristol Meyers Squibb, and Pfizer if dry mouth, irritability, disrupted sleep patterns, loss of appetite, sloth, and social phobia were the sole issues related to the medications I take on a daily basis. However, it is the sex thing I find most challenging.
Anhedonia is the technical term for the inability to experience joy. When people are in the depths of depression, nothing touches them, not the most intensely pleasurable activities, not the most familiar comforts. They are emotionally frozen. In this state, people either have to get professional help or simply wait for weeks or months until the depression lifts by itself; nothing is going to make them feel better.
Schizophrenia is a mental illness which affects one person in every hundred.
Depression is perhaps the most common of all mental health problems, currently felt to affect one in every four adults to some degree. Depression is a problem with mood/feeling in which the mood is described as sad, feeling down in the dumps, being blue, or feeling low. While the depressed mood is present, evidence is also present which reflects the neurochemical or "brain chemistry" aspects of depression with the depressed individual experiencing poor concentration/attention, loss of energy, accelerated thought/worry, sleep/appetite disturbance, and other physical manifestations. When this diagnosis is present, the individual will exhibit at least five of the following symptoms during the depressive periods:
Neurotransmitters, chemicals in our brains that work as messengers between brain cells, are responsible for most of what goes on in our bodies. They regulate our behavior, our emotions, our ability to learn, and the way we sleep. When these chemicals are not present in the proper balance, it can affect everything from our energy levels to our ability to focus to how we feel.
Studies have shown that neurotransmitters have a tremendous influence on our mood, and insufficient levels of certain neurotransmitters have been identified in patients with emotional disorders and mental illness.
Our brain contains specialized nerve cells, called neurons, which are responsible for receiving information, processing it, and transmitting it to other cells. Neurons are not in direct contact with one another; in order for neurons to pass messages to each other, they rely on highly specialized chemicals called neurotransmitters.
Neurotransmitters are made out of amino acids, which come from proteins - you will see why this is important further on. The neurotransmitters essentially bridge the "gaps" (called synapses) between neurons to relay their messages. When these neurotransmitters exist at insufficient levels, important information may not be passed along correctly.
Some of the important neurotransmitters that affect our moods are described here.
- Acetylcholine -regulates voluntary movement, sleep, memory, and learning. Too much acetylcholine is present with depression, and too little is present in patients with dementia.
- Serotonin - helps to regulate appetite, sleep, impulsive behavior, aggression, and mood. Too little serotonin is present in cases of depression and anxiety disorder, in particular obsessive-compulsive disorder.
- Dopamine - helps to regulate learning, focus and movement. Excessive levels of dopamine are present in patients with schizophrenia; too little dopamine is associated with depression, as well as the tremors exhibited by patients with Parkinson's disease.
- Epinephrine (adrenaline) - this neurotransmitter regulates glucose metabolism and energy levels; low levels are linked to depression.
- Norepinephrine (noradrenalin) - helps to regulate appetite and alertness; low levels are found in patients with depression, while excessive norepinephrine has been found in patients with schizophrenia.
- GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid) - GABA is known to inhibit anxiety and excitation. Too little GABA is associated with anxiety disorders.
- Endorphins - These are the "happy" neurotransmitters that promote feelings of contentment and pleasure; they are also involved in pain relief.
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