Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Suicide and Norepinephrine

Excessive activity of the norepinephrine system have been linked with increased risks for suicidal behavior. Both a neurotransmitter and a hormone, norepinephrine mobilizes the body for action (e.g., fight-flight). High levels of this substance, however, increase restlessness and anxiety. In addition, elevated levels of norepinephrine inhibit activity in the prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain that helps regulate conscience, willpower, decision-making, and behavior. Bottom line: when a brain commits suicide it does so in an altered state. Individuals need to refrain from rushing to judgement when this unfortunate behavior occurs. Judgmental comments, due to a lack of understanding about altered brain states, can actually increase the shock and emotional pain of loss among the survivors.

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