According To Scientists There Might Be A Way To Inhibit Intrusive Thoughts

All of us get overwhelmed by intrusive ideas. But, if we have them too often they could overwhelm our lives. Then lead to overthinking. The people who are at high risk of becoming overthinkers are those with anxiety. It turns out that the process of thinking intensely about a lot of stuff stimulates the parts of the brain creating depression or anxiety.

In fact, scientists have also explored that issue.

Dr. Michael Anderson and his team of researchers at the University of Cambridge have conducted a study and have found an important chemical in the brain where memory is formed. It enables people to repress intrusive thoughts.

With the help of fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy which measures brain chemistry, the scientists examined the brains of the participants in an experiment.

The researchers made sure they suppressed the participants’ thoughts on a certain task during the examination.

After the experiment, they analyzed the spectroscopy results and found out that a chemical known as GABA transmits messages between the cells. It’s this chemical that passes unwanted thoughts.

Moreover, the scientists explained why people with mental conditions like anxiety, depression, schizophrenia or PTSD have to deal with intrusive thoughts more often.

According to Anderson, it all comes from someone’s inability to control thoughts. Because of it, people start exhibiting symptoms such as invasive memories, visions, hallucinations, ruminations or permanent worries. All of them are typical of the mental conditions above.

Dr. Anderson compares the inability to control our negative thoughts to the inability to control our actions. He concludes that both could be a menace to our normal way of living. The professor thinks that as we have reflexes which allow us to control actions we also have similar mechanisms to control our overwhelming, negative thoughts.

But How To Fight Negative Thoughts?

Recently scientists proved that The Prefrontal Cortex or PFC stops intrusive thoughts. They call this area of the brain the “executive function” section. It is related to working memory, planning behaviors, critical thinking, solving issues, being self-aware, decisions and social cognition.

The PFC is the brain’s “control center,” regulating other brain areas (hippocampus and motor cortex).

GABA, on the other hand, is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. It plays a crucial role in regulating the activity of exhibitory (‘excitatory’) transmitters such as glutamate and dopamine.

So, after conducting the study the scientists came to the conclusion that individuals with lower levels of GABA in the hippocampus suppressed fewer thoughts.

Here’s how it all works:

In the first place, it’s GABA within the hippocampus, the part of the brain where memory is formed that defines our capability to hinder undesired thoughts. Actually, stopping unwanted thoughts depends equally on the PFC activity and on the hippocampus.

So, by increasing the quantity of GABA in our brain we could decrease chronical intrusive thoughts.

But how to do that?

Here are four steps to follow to boost GABA in your brain.

First, try to avoid fizzy drinks, MSG, and processed foods. Eat foods high in glutamic acid, a building substance of GABA. Check out which foods are rich in glutamic acid from this link.

Second, increase your heart rate through exercise. You could try brisk walking or running, three to four times a week.

Third, calming your mind by breathing deeply could help to boost your GABA levels. That’s why it’s a good idea to start meditating for 10 to 15 minutes.

Fourth, you could take up yoga as it involves exercises on deep breathing and helps to concentrate on the present.

That helps to reduce stress or anxiety.

Finally, it’s important to say that the study was published as recently as 2017 so there are still no treatment programs. Yet the results could lead to significant progress in treating schizophrenia. This disease consists of hyperactivity in the hippocampus, which is the section of the brain related to hallucinations and other symptoms.

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