How Benzodiazepines Rewire The Nervous System (series on Medium)
Written by Kathleen Reily September 21, 2018
Our nervous system is made up of millions of nerves, and these neurons actually retain a small amount of space between one another and communicate through two of the most important neurotransmitters. These are GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) and Glutamate. The former acts as a neural inhibitor in the body and the latter acts as an excitatory chemical, where the two balance each other out. It is important to recognize that both transmitter chemicals are always acting together, their levels are in synchronicity and the body’s ability to regulate the balance of each is citical. The two work together in order to help orchestrate every movement and sensation in your body. They are responsible for receiving information, tailoring the information so that it makes sense to the brain and the body, and then moving it along. Essentially providing a core structure for the nervous system.

As was previously noted the GABA neurotransmitter is an inhibitor. When GABA is released it serves the purpose of slowing something down or to limit sensory input. For example you might need to steady your hand, or perhaps being in a loud restaurant and you might need to trim the input of noise in the background in order to focus on what is in your direct sphere. This inhibitor is also responsible for allowing fluidity of movement, and of course it’s role is a lot more in depth but the core idea for the sake of this article series is that GABA is responsible for balancing sensory information, movement, etc… and is present everywhere in the nervous system. In the next article I will get into the role of Glutamate and what happens to the nervous system when you take a benzo medication and strip the brain’s memory of how to grow these neurotransmitters and receptors, let alone keep them balanced.
Stress and The Brain
Written by Kathleen Reily Feb. 3, 2018
Science is showing that chronic stress does alter neurochemicals and the neurohormones in the brain. However, various brain regions will respond differently to stress, for example, the hippocampus which is critically involved in the process of learning and memory is very sensitive to chronic stress over time. The dentritic arbors (information receiving portion of the neuron) has been shown to detract over time. Also the hippocampus which is responsive for disarming the steroid reaction in the stress response, when damaged, one’s stress reaction will actually become heightened to create an exacerbated stress cycle, almost like a heightened loop effect.

Additionally, researchers have discovered a strong affect on the individuals’ ability to apply spatial memory as a result of chronic stress. It is also likely that this disability has been worsened by the onset of the GPS as well as smart phones. Another curious impact that chronic stress has been shown to have on the brain, is the individuals’ higher brain matter (in the prefrontal cortex) breaks down over time as a result of stress hormones building up in the higher brain. Additionally, because the person is spending more time operating in the survival brain (primal brain) they are actually expanding the function of the amygdala which is the fear based center of the brain. So you can now see the importance of addressing ones’ chronic stress symptoms.
Stress, Memory, and The Brain
Written by Kathleen Reily, Feb. 22, 2018
Individuals who struggle with chronic stress are shown to acquire and retain aversive memories and negative associations more so than people who are calm and reside in a peaceful state of mind. Once the memory is formed, that person will resist releasing it for an extended period of time. However, once the memory is extinct, when the patient is tested later, they will actually fail to remember the extinction. Essentially, ones’ ability to release negative associations and memories for the long term is greatly impacted in comparison to someone who does not struggle with chronic stress. This issue is known as the impaired recall of fear extinction. The ability to recall fear extinction is a function of the prefrontal cortex (the higher brain). The amygdala which is the area of the primal brain known for emotional regulation and fear conditioning, actually presents an opposite response to chronic stress. 

In the higher brain we see a damaging effect on the neural structure, however, in the lower brain where the amygdala resides we actually see a strengthening of the dentrites. This effect strengthens the likelihood of the individual reacting poorly and thus creating an abnormally strong recall of memories. Even just one negative incident will expand the size of the amygdala, an effect that occurs over and over again over time. The good news is that when the brain is calm and the stress reaction is not reoccurring (the person is in homeostasis) both the higher brain and the primal brain will begin to repair themselves.
Kathleen Reily
Kathleen Reily helps busy professionals who struggle with chronic stress to dissolve their symptoms and restore neurological function and matter in the higher brain. Clients using her steps have experienced long-term sustainable effects which include a significantly increased peaceful mindset, greater mental focus and restoration of mental power and creativity. If you are interested in finding out more about my eight-week program please reach out to me to schedule a free strategy meeting.