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We tend to think of our brain as the CEO of our body’s functions, but neurocardiologists are discovering the powerful intelligence of the heart.
It seems the heart, as human intuition has long suggested, strongly influences our moods, decisions, emotional experience, and physical health. Comprehending our heart as a field of intelligence may be key to the understanding and treatment of depression and other mood disorders.
Our amazing heart, besides being pump, is a nervous system. Its network of neurons is 40,000 strong. Though the heart receives signals from our brain it also functions independently, releasing self-regulating hormones and sending messages to other parts of the body.
Together, the heart, brain, and other body systems communicate much as networked computers do, and a bug in one system affects the others. This is obvious in our experience. Though depression often seems to take up residence in our cranium, we can also experience heaviness or emptiness of the heart, a nervous stomach, restlessness, fatigue, and muscle aches.
Because our heart produces several hormones, including the “love” hormone oxytocin, it is in continuous conversation with the parts of our brain associated with emotion such as the amygdala, thalamus, and hypothalamus. This is important to understand because mental health is really mental-emotional health. Our mental and emotional states always rub elbows at the very least, and are often found wrestling.
“I’m totally convinced that the brain depends on input outside the brain, such as the cardiovascular system, to influence psychological factors, such as the energy or intensity of an emotional state,” said neurocardiologist Dr. David S. Goldstein.
The heart's influence explains why, when our thoughts are dark, being around caring people can lift our mood. Even if we are not communicating verbally, the electromagnetic signals of another's heart affects our brain waves.
In this way the heart is, according to heart researcher Rollin McCraty, a nonverbal communicator of emotional and energetic (intuitive) information between beings—and why seeing a compassionate mental health professional can be so beneficial when you are depressed.
Not only do therapists teach life skills and help us see our self clearly, their heart intelligence can support our own.
Sources: The Morning Call; McCraty, Rollin, Dr., The Energetic Heart, Amazon Kindle Publication, 2012.
Photo credit: MichaelGill / flickr
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