The Inseparability of Environment and Biochemistry in Mental Health

Julie Hersh is the author of Struck by Living, in which she deals honestly and openly with her struggles with depression. After publishing the book, she toured and spoke about her work. During talks, attendees frequently asked whether Hersh attributes her depression to biochemistry or environment. But Hersh points out that the line between these factors is blurred. After all, every thought and reaction to our environment causes a chemical and electrical reaction in the brain. In a sense, biochemistry is a result of environment, and the two remain virtually inseparable in terms of mental health.

To handle her depression, Julie Hersh relies on a personal system that allows her to control both biochemistry and environment. She takes an antidepressant to manage biochemical issues but also emphasizes the role that stress reduction, exercise, and sleep have played in achieving mental stability. For mental health, individuals must realize that effective treatment addresses the problem from all perspectives, not just one. To that end, treatment must be individually tailored to each person’s own biochemistry and environment.