Randolph-Macon College psychology professor Kelly Lambert, Ph.D. is the author of a new book about overcoming depression.
Lifting Depression: A Neuroscientist’s Hands-On Approach to Activating Your Brain’s Healing Power, offers new evidence that our increasingly sedentary lifestyle is contributing to rising rates of depression in today’s society. Dr. Lambert found that the positive outcome of simple, goal-oriented activities, something she calls effort-driven rewards, help build up the brain’s defense against emotional letdown.
The most compelling argument for Dr. Lambert’s theory is her pioneering laboratory research. She compared so-called “trust-fund rats,” who experienced rewards with no effort, to hard working “trained-to-succeed rats.” The results showed that rats that worked for rewards were more resilient than the ones that did little to no work. Lambert found that physical effort activates key brain circuits and related neurochemicals that influence our moods. She stresses that activities involving your hands such as knitting, cooking, building, or gardening are especially helpful.
Dr. Lambert backs up her theory with the latest findings from neuroscience research and several case studies. She also draws on her own experience of overcoming depression after the death of her mother. The simple task of vacuuming gave her a sense of accomplishment at a time when she felt that she had little control over the world around her and prompted her to learn more about how our industrialized lifestlyes have accompanied increased rates of depression over the last century. Lambert’s research suggests that meaningful and productive physical effort has a more relevant and meaningful impact on our emotional gauges than often debilitating antidepressant drugs.
Dr. Lambert is chair of the psychology department at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia and co-director of the Office of Undergraduate Research. Her research interests focus on behavior-induced neuroplasticity, specifically how chronic stress and parental experience alter behavioral and neurobiological responses.
She is widely published in scientific journals and is the co-author of Clinical Neuroscience, with Craig Howard Kinsley, Ph.D. who is a professor of neuroscience at University of Richmond. In addition, Lambert’s “smart rats” research was highlighted in a book titled, The Mommy Brain by Katherine Ellison, which gained national media attention including coverage on “The Today Show: and ABC’s “World News Tonight.” That research concluded that mother rats are smarter and better at multitasking than virgin rats.
For more information about Dr. Kelly Lambert or for questions about events at R-MC, call Pam Harris Cox at 752-3712, email@example.com or Anne Marie Lauranzon at 804-752-7317, firstname.lastname@example.org.