Think back to a time you said something stupid in the heat of the moment. We’ve all been there, and instantly knew we’d messed up. Why do we do these things? Have you heard the expression that when we’re scared or angry we lose IQ points? It turns out there’s some truth to that.
The Lizard Brain
Studies have shown that people living in poverty, suffering from depression, or having an addiction to drugs, actually lose around a dozen IQ points, because their minds are using a type of thinking designed for emergency response.
Our brain has two main ways of thinking: slow and conscious deliberation, and instant sudden automatic reaction. The first kind is the type we normally think about, it’s when we can take time to make an educated decision, normal day-to-day thinking. The second though is what we’re talking about here. It’s more like muscle memory, it’s an adrenaline-fueled response, often known as fight or flight. The ancient part of the brain (sometimes called “the lizard brain” because it’s so evolutionarily old) responsible for this type of thinking has served us well, it helps us get out of problems all the time. But it’s meant for short-term work only. Long-term fear-based decision making can just plain wear us out.
Exhaustion and Substance Abuse
A person who has been going from one problem to the next will find themselves wearing thin. Unfortunately, rather than taking time to sleep, seeking counseling, and working to otherwise recover, many turn to drugs, alcohol, gambling, or other compulsions for self-medication. When a person is on the moving train of their problem, it can make a certain logical sense, recovering from these situations can take years of committed hard work, time which is incredibly hard to commit when life keeps throwing you curveballs. But this self-medication catches up in time and we’re usually left in a worse place.
But here’s the good news: that IQ point loss can be regained!
Addiction and depression don’t need to be the end of the story, they don’t need to define you. There are many evidence-based ways that we can fight these problems. To do this though, it means taking on a few more challenges. This can scare away a lot of people who are dealing with problem after problem, they think it’ll be the straw that will break the camel’s back, but adding rehab, talk-therapy, and/or support groups to your schedule will actually lighten your load. By working to address the causes of your problems offensively, you can get to a point where you’re not just responding to everything. You can get to a point where you can take time and plan things out, you can pay attention to your physical and mental health.
It may seem like an insurmountable distance from where you are right now, but realize that you are not alone. There are people who are willing to help you shoulder the burden. No matter what you’re going through, there are ways to get through it. If you’re in Florida, psychiatric services are available to help you find your way through. Please call us today at (855) 441-2449.