Sudoku and Neurotransmission

There’s nothing that can convince me that this life is meant to be as complicated as we make it. There’s nothing that can convince me that we will ever find all of the answers, and to think that we have some already is naive and wishful. These are the things I think about as I backtrack in my Sudoku game, something I used to hate doing as a child because I could never get it right the first time. I have once in my life, but that was in a bout of mania. As much as I like to think it was my own brain power, it was really just a flood of neurotransmitters doing all the work.

250px-sudoku_puzzle_by_l2g-20050714_solution_standardized_layout-svgI was thinking about this the other day, about neurotransmission and Sudoku, and how they both have algorithms to describe their process. We have more neural connections in our brain than we have estimated stars in our galaxy. 1000 times more, to be exact. Sudoku has a bunch of different number possibilities, but only one answer. I fear neurotransmission is not as simple.

We have an algorithm for the probability of neural transmission: when certain neurons will fire and the chance of that happening, essentially. I believe if we do wish to describe the processes that happen in our brain, math will be the catalyst for success in that field. There are too many connections, too many variables, to settle on an explanation as simple as, say, a chemical imbalance.

I came across an essay in PLOS medicine titled “Serotonin and depression: a disconnect between the advertisements and the Scientific Literature.” This is a big deal. Although published in 2005, their words are still very relevent today. I’m sure you have heard in commercials about psychiatric medication that “so and so disorder is a chemical imbalance, and [insert drug] works to correct that balance”. Notice they will never explain how or why, because they simply don’t know. We don’t know.

And that’s where my area of study will be, once I do graduate: let’s explore this idea of chemical imbalance and what it may mean. My ultimate goal? Disprove the theory.

That’s a long way off, and it may only be a pipe dream, but I believe I can catalyst a different type of thought in the mental health community by proving, scientifically, mathematically, whatever you want to call it, that something like a chemical imbalance cannot possibly exist. Why?

As the essay says:

Attempts were also made to induce depression by depleting serotonin levels, but these experiments reaped no consistent results [9]. Likewise, researchers found that huge increases in brain serotonin, arrived at by administering high-dose L-tryptophan, were ineffective at relieving depression.

As it also says:

Contemporary neuroscience research has failed to confirm any serotonergic lesion in any mental disorder, and has in fact provided significant counterevidence to the explanation of a simple neurotransmitter deficiency. Modern neuroscience has instead shown that the brain is vastly complex and poorly understood.

And of course, let’s not forget:

There is no scientifically established ideal “chemical balance” of serotonin, let alone an identifiable pathological imbalance. To equate the impressive recent achievements of neuroscience with support for the serotonin hypothesis is a mistake.

comic-bubble-hmm_1609021If there is no established balance, there, logically, cannot be an imbalance. This article focuses purely on serotonin and depression, but this in fact relates as well to the dopamine hypothesis of schizophrenia and any other neurotransmitter they claim causes certain mental health issues. These studies are indeed correlational and not experiments. What does this mean for us that struggle mentally?

It means the door is open again. It means we can find a different explanation. It means we can focus on genes. We can focus on environment. We can focus on the way society structures thought–how we’re taught to think about ourselves in the first place. We can focus on things we can change, rather than this pipe dream that a little pill that may or may not cause more harm to our bodies/brains than good, can cure anything at all.

To deny that there is a biological component would be ignorant of me. To accept the propaganda that pharmaceutical companies place in front of my eyes would be even more ignorant of me.

There could be a chance that neurotransmission is just like Sudoku, and that perhaps there is one single answer and we just have to back track and back track and back track until we find the right numerical composition. But more than likely that isn’t the case. This isn’t a pattern devised by a computer. This is a pattern devised by universal chaos and quantum processes. What is there to correct? What’s created by nature is created by nature, and for us to label that right or wrong, normal or abnormal, is rather selfish and egotistical.

What else could it be, if not a chemical imbalance then? We could brainstorm ideas for hours. Genetics–if your mother has what we label as schizophrenia, there’s a greater chance you will too. But stop. It also depends on: Environment. There’s a striking number of people who receive this label who have been through some type of sexual abuse, physical abuse, severe emotional abuse, and often voices and delusions reflect this pain. What does that tell us? That deep pain that isn’t processed properly leaves a lasting stamp on our neural connections, and turns something on and off in our genetics. Socio-economic status plays a role: think of all the homeless people you see wandering the street talking to themselves. Assume they are not on drugs, and you’re dealing with a mental health issue. You think it’s easy to get well in poverty? You think there isn’t trauma in poverty? What effect does trauma have on the brain? There are studies on this, but what does it mean for neural connections? What does any of the things I just mentioned mean?

That’s what I plan to study in my life. I’ve given up the fight against these pharmaceutical people. I can’t fight a corporation. But I can fight their bullshit research with real research.

Ironic, considering Research Methods is my LEAST favorite class.

And that’s today’s Mental Truth.

 

 

How Sick Are You, Pt 2

Another long stretch since I’ve written. I spent some days adjusting to medication, some days hating myself for taking medication, and other days deciding to come off of medication.

Experiment number 2984719374:

Hypothesis: I will have a burst of energy and feel-good neurotransmitters flooding the gates of my synaptic terminals, followed by an immediate and harrowing decline which will, therefore, push me inevitably towards reuniting with the medication I so despise.

Methods: I will stop both the Abilify and Trintellix and monitor my moods and/or whatever aspects of psychosis that may rear its ugly head.

Results: TBD

Discussion: TBD.

Now that we have that settled, let’s talk a bit about mental health and awareness. There are so many great people out there doing great advocacy online and in person. There are so many great Non-Profit organizations doing the same. There are even clubs dedicated to such a thing at my college campus. And yet, there are still people wary and ashamed of their mental health. Let me give an example of how this thought process is still prevalent.

Today, while sitting in my Cognitive Psychology class, we were going over, for the umpteenth time in my life, neurotransmission, synaptic terminals, receptors, antagonists and agonists, Dopamine, Gaba, Norepinephrine, and Serotonin, some of the main receptors you learn in an introduction class. It follows that we should then speak about the dis-regulation of some of those neurotransmitters, and discuss the THEORY of chemical imbalances: regarding primarily dopamine and schizophrenia, serotonin and anxiety/depression.

Again, the idea of a chemical imbalance is a (repeat after me kids):

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which means it can never be proven, only dis-proven.

Anyway, that brought up the topic of SSRI’s, their side effects, and their withdrawal symptoms.

One young woman, who was probably younger than I am, raised her hand and said this:

“I was wondering about the withdrawal symptoms, because I take an SSRI, and I noticed that–well, I don’t have depression, it’s for some nerve problems–but I noticed that when I didn’t take it even for just a couple days, I was sleeping a lot, I couldn’t focus in this class . . .” and yada yada yada, personal life bullshit.

But what struck me is that she immediately discounted the experience of depression. She wouldn’t want her classmates thinking she’s “mentally ill” now would she?

And this is why I advocate for changing the culture around this term “mentally ill”. Because people are ashamed of that, of “being ill”. But what if we weren’t “ill”? What if we were perfectly well humans with a variation of neurons (a very, very, very large variation of neurons) that just so happened to result in different experiences? What if believing we are “ill” is keeping us, well, “ill-er”?

What if the perception of those experiences changed from unpleasant to being perceived as unique, variable, malleable, valuable, curious, and wonderful?

That’s not to say the struggle isn’t hard, because it’s very hard. But the harder we believe it is, the harder it will get.

Now, this could all be the feel-good neurotransmitters talking, because I started my little experiment about two weeks ago, and that is about the amount of time it takes for this poison to slowly remove itself from my body. Although, if you know anything about half-lifes, it never really goes away.

But whether or not this is me being euphoric and grandiose, I think we need to expand the discussion around neurotransmitters, and inform the public of just how wrong it is to think that the pathway of ONE SINGLE neurotransmitter leads to something as complex as what we call schizophrenia or what we call anxiety, Bipolar, Depression, any of it.

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You’ll read in a lot of studies released to the public–or at least glorified in the media–that they’ve found another link of dopamine to this, another one of serotonin to that, and it’s just not feasible that with 30-100 different molecule versions of neurotransmitters (granted there are a few that do a lot of the work) and 100 Trillion estimated neural connections plus constant variation of cell death/growth, neural connection death/growth, as well as environmental and genetic influences that dictate those neural connection and sell growths and deaths, that ONE neurotransmitter is going to be responsible for making or breaking our mental health.

Now, we can say that they are correlated. We can say we see increased dopamine in people who experience what we label as schizophrenia. But you cannot, and I repeat, CANNOT use that as CAUSATION.

Fuck I can’t stress it ENOUGH.

Psychology 101 folks: CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION. 

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Dopamine may be high during what we call psychosis, but that does not mean that the high dopamine CAUSED the psychosis, or that the psychosis CAUSED the high dopamine. We haven’t learned what “causes” mental health struggles yet, that’s why chemical imbalance is a THEORY.

See how much you’ve learned already today.

And that’s what happens in a lot of these articles that are debriefed by media or science magazines online with writers who don’t know a single thing about psychology. They get hung up on correlations.

It’s also a result of research publications being manipulated to suit the needs of pharmaceutical companies.

It’s a fact that if you give someone a drug that decreases dopamine, you’ll likely see a decrease in what we call psychosis. You’ll see a decrease in a lot of other things too, and those are what we cal side-effects. But are those drugs really doing anything to the thing we call psychosis, or is it just blunting some aspects of the self? Because often “psychotic symptoms” continue during the usage of said drug.

These are all questions I can’t answer, and neither can the magazines that publish articles on published research. It’s important to read these things carefully and really take a moment to look inside of yourself and ask yourself if you want to consider yourself broken, sick, ill, and helpless.

And that’s today’s Mental Truth.

 

Ten Quadrillion Ways To Be Fucked Up

Sometimes you just want to wake up, go online, and not get bombarded with stupidity. All the time you should realize this as an improbable feat.

You try to read a serious article about someone in a car accident and all you see is the ad for “Precious lost weight, now she’s a hottie!” or some fatsist, sexist bull.

Then you make the mistake of clicking on the “I hear voices mumbling, am I going crazy?” question on Yahoo Answers and find an extended, wanna-be-intellectual answer of “that sounds like schizophrenia and here are my dumb reasons to why I think I have the right to make that comment”.

Now some fifteen year old female is running around thinking she has schizophrenia because some loon on the internet told her so.

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A reminder for us all: We’ve got to be careful what words we release into the ether of the internet. I shall repeat something I feel I repeat much too often to people: hearing voices is not indicative of schizophrenia. There are many different types of auditory and visual hallucinations, and only a very small fraction of them can be categorized and attributed to a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

Did you know you can hallucinate merely from being stressed out?

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Shocker!

There is this overwhelming belief in our society that something “abnormal” must be disordered or a sign of a “broken brain”. I don’t know where it’s coming from. Seriously, someone find the answer for me and link it to my blog in the comments below.

But for God’s sake, don’t get the answer off Yahoo. If you link me to yahoo, I will personally hack your Facebook and post graphic Hentai gifs to all your family members.

It really all comes down to this idea that we’ve got it all figured out, that how the majority of the population perceives things in the world is the only way to perceive the world, and if your perceptions are different, if your brain integrates information with a twist to it, than you and your wacko brain are in the wrong and we will make sure you’re aware of how wrong you are. And we’ll drill it into your head until you know you’re wrong and we’ll make sure you know how not acceptable you are. So along with your weird perceptions of what we label as reality, you also have to deal with being disrespected.

And we’ll make sure none of us get on your level to try and relate because, well, fuck you, you’re below us.

That attitude isn’t everywhere, but it is in many places, and I’m sure those of us who struggle with our mental health could pinpoint it somewhere at least once in in our lives, whether it be from family, doctors, psychologists, neurologists, whoever.

6ddI gave up on the internet today. I closed all the tabs, put my computer to sleep, and sat wondering how people with such strong beliefs of “mental disorders make you insane” aren’t also labeled as delusional. 1) it’s an irrational thought 2) you can’t talk them out of it and 3) when asked, they have no real evidence to support their claim other than the media and their unintelligible link of mental illness to violent crime and since when is the media a credible source?

Then I got bored of trying to catch all the thoughts whizzing past my eyes, so I turned the computer back on. The internet Gods have been merciful on me and presented me with two wonderful articles from Scientific American and a website called “Medium.com” that kind of rips off flipboard but I’ll ignore that.

Links to both articles can be found here and here.

Both are in relation to the idea of consciousness and theoretical physics and I promise I will quickly link all of these ideas back to the reason why I say there is no one true reality or one true/right way of perceiving said reality. One article believes the concept and action of our consciousness may never be solved, but perhaps it could be merged with computers and bionics–as soon as neuroscientists can crack the “neural code”.

Now, I’m no neuroscientist, nor am I a particle/theoretical physicist, but the idea that a neural code (meaning a comprehensive pattern the brain/mind follows that results in an algorithm describing the function of consciousness and every single neural network in the brain) would be reduced to something as simple as a couple action potential spikes with specific milivolts as they’re suggesting sounds kind of . . . well, dumb.

That’s like saying  “specific sounds have specific frequencies, and those frequencies are are the reason for the pitch of the sound” . . . without taking into account the particles that allow all of that to happen.

If you’re studying sound and how it syncs to the entirety of the universe, wouldn’t you need to dig a little deeper than that? Kind of how, you know, consciousness is everything to us?

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But a good point they made is the amount of neural synaptic connections in the brain: A quadrillion. If it averages ten action potentials per second, that’s ten quadrillion operations a second. Can you fathom that without making your brain hurt?

Oh, the irony.

At ten quadrillion action potentials per second, don’t you think there’s going to be some several million of us who perceive things different than the other several million? If each brain is like a finger print, don’t you think we’re all going to see things through our own eyes and we have no right to think that our vision is the only kind of vision?

Does it seem a little silly yet to think that ONE “imbalance” of serotonin is what has ruined your life without other factors playing into it all? Does it make sense why they find some people with the same differences in serotonin as you that are not depressed or not anxious? Does it make sense that everything you’ve read about imbalances are basically just loosely educated guesses?

Does it make sense that hearing voices isn’t indicative of schizophrenia yet?

There’s no such thing as a perfect brain. There’s no such thing as a broken brain. There are just brains. Love your brain. It does so much for you.

Next time you and your brain quarrel, just remember there’s a little mass of squishy tissue with billions of neurons scrunched together just above your brain stem that gives you the freedom to never have to remind yourself to breathe. It lets you enjoy the portions of your life that you’ve enjoyed. Don’t piss it off. 

Power To The People

Neurons reaching out to learn
Neurons Reaching Out To Learn. Credit: Dr. Victor Anggono at Queensland Brain Institute

Do you believe in free will?

Or are you more of a deterministic personality?

Do you think you are your neurons or that your neurons are you? Do you think you have a say or would you prefer to be helpless to the scientific process that is “thought”?

Deep questions man, deep questions. Better slip yourself an adderall for this post. Or at least your thinking cap. Maybe adderall is your thinking cap.

Arguably the biggest debate in biological sciences is nature versus nurture and most people meet somewhere in the middle–nature plays a part but you can manipulate it depending on how you live your life. I’d say that’s a fair argument. Exercise, for example, has been known for years to help your body through biological processes. The Lipoprotiens that carry good cholesterol through your blood to your liver where it is needed is increased the more you exercise and the better your diet, which reduces the amount of bad cholesterol that builds up in your arteries. You can never get rid of the bad stuff, so you might as well increase the good stuff, it’s your only hope. Shouldn’t have ate all those Burger King triple cheese bacon Whoppers in your younger years.

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Since When Do Their Burgers Look Half As Good As This?

And now they think they’ve found proof of Alcoholism neurons and anxiety neurons. We’ll go after the addiction first, I think it’s more interesting.

Your neurons change with you, it’s evident. When you’re born there’s millions of millions of them all struggling to see who will live and who will die. It’s like the Hunger Games up there except everyone participates. So I guess it’s not like the Hunger Games. I don’t know, I’ve never read the book. Or seen the movie. Whatever.

Anyway, there’s millions and millions and millions and millions of them (shit, I’m starting to sound like Carl Sagen) and by the time you’re three, half of them are gone. So yes, those younger years are vital. That’s why if you’re tortured when you’re an infant and a toddler, you’re more likely to display Antisocial Personality tendencies. You’ll start killing the dogs and learning how to manipulate and not feeling an ounce of guilt for it because, shit, no one displayed what that’s supposed to be, there is no distinguishable difference between right and wrong, and you didn’t get hugged. Yes, hugging is just as important as teaching your children right from wrong.

I don’t think anyone will argue that drugs change the structure of your brain, even the ones you are prescribed. Anti-psychotics most often change the amount of dopamine in your brain and if you’re taking an anti-psychotic (especially if it’s actually to suppress active psychosis) you already have a sensitivity to dopamine. Anti-psychotics increase that sensitivity by no fault of anyone and when you forget your medication for a day or two or three, what happens? Most often a psychotic episode. It’s not your fault, it’s not the drugs fault, it’s just the way nature responds to our attempt at thwarting it.

Alcohol does kind of the same thing. It even effects the D1 and D2 receptors the same as some anti-psychotics. Have they done extensive research on what damage or benefit anti-psychotics have on these neurons as they’ve done for alcohol? Most likely not (proof of irreversible damage isn’t exactly a good selling point), at least not to the extent they’ve researched these “addiction neurons”.

We all know what a neuron looks like:

Now picture that but mushroom shaped. That’s what alcohol does to your neurons, most likely if you have addiction and alcoholism already in your family. They get excited, start action-potential-ling all over the place, and they want to keep that level of excitement going, so you drink more. They grow more dendrites and have more access to communicate with other neurons. That’s why you now need five drinks instead of two drinks to even get a buzz. Guess what? It even increases your Long-Term memory.

Sound odd? It shouldn’t, not in this context. Because that’s all your memory gains–context based information. You’ll remember the bar’s specific location better than your buddy who has only been there a few times versus your escapade every other night.

Even more interesting is when they introduced an agonist to thwart the neuron’s excitability level directly to the D1 receptor, the poor drunken animals that were so used to getting drunk in this lab with all these strange men and women in white coats standing around, reduced their amount of consumption.

There are still a lot of questions to be answered here: why do some people become addicted and others do not? What kind of genetic sequences are there where some D1 receptors in people’s brains get mushroomed and others do not? But for now, just take the information as it is and know if you have alcoholism in your family, it could be your future.

But it also could not. That’s the catch.

As for my fellow anxiety suffers, including those with PTSD, I see GABA re-uptake-inhibitors in our future. Or at least something with GABA. If you don’t know already, the GABA neurotransmitter has a very tranquilizing effect. These anxiety neurons they found in the central amygdala have receptors for GABA and as soon as the amount of GABA receptors is decreased, the tranquilizing effect is reduced and suddenly you’re both fearful and anxious. Traumatic experiences can cause reduced GABA receptors.

So, are you powerless over your anxiety? Over your addiction? In a sense, yes. But think about it for a moment–you’re not born with these differences, they’re eventually created. You ever see a baby on the curb downing a 40oz?

And if you can create them, or if they can be created (in terms of PTSD), then you can decommission them. If you have alcoholism in your family, don’t go out and get hammered every night; it’s best to stay away from alcohol and benzo’s and painkillers entirely. If you have anxiety, know that you weren’t born with GABA deficient neurons, as much as you feel like you were. Maybe a predisposition to it, genetically, but even genes have on and off switches.

As out of control as you feel, you can manipulate your brain in any way that you please. I think that’s what’s so fascinating about it. Drugs may change the chemicals temporarily, but chemicals don’t always change the shape like we see in alcoholism. Learning, however, does. Changing mindset, does. That’s been proven many times over.

It’s even harder to gain control over your brain when everyone keeps telling you that you have no control.

The second biggest argument in biological sciences, particularly for psychology, is in the relationship between correlation and causation. The decreased brain masses we see in people suffering from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder–are they a result of the onset of the disorder or the result of genetic differences from the moment of birth? A combination? Or are we wrong about everything entirely?

I’d summarize an article on that, but there aren’t many. We haven’t tracked anyone from birth into their adult hood because we can’t predict who will develop schizophrenia or bipolar and who won’t, regardless of their parents mental status.

Making things even more difficult is that fact that no two people with schizophrenia share the exact same symptoms. Similar perhaps, but it’s not as concrete as, say, two people with social anxiety disorder. Schizophrenia is arguably one of the most elusive disorders in the field. In other words, we don’t know jack shit. I think I’ve said that before.

You are simultaneously your brain and not your brain. It’s always going to be a power struggle between the two of you. That’s what makes life, life. You just have to believe it.

Bro, Stop Moving My Arm! Stop It! Weirdo

Today I thought I’d take a different twist on things and talk about an amazing TED talk video I watched on electrophysiology and the ways our technology these days can manipulate neurosignals. This entertained me greatly.

All I could think about was buying myself one of these gadgets. Think if we enhanced it with all the crazy quantum teleportation technology we’ve developed just this last year. I’d go running around slapping random people with electrodes and then come home and sit in the closet with the lights off hooking them up to my legs and my arms and laugh knowing when I extended my arm someone was slapping their boyfriend or when I kicked my leg someone was kicking the knee of a guy standing in front of them in line. Just how diabolical could we get with this freaky science?

The day we transport thoughts via quantum entanglement is the day I’m building my underground barricade made of aluminum foil. Reynolds Wrap will see a huge increase in sales from me personally.

My Future Children’s School Attire

You can’t call someone deluded when the threat is real.

Which begs an interesting question. A lot of paranoid delusions today revolve around satellites and the government tracking your every move, your every thought. When that becomes a well-known and accessible truth, do we still call these people deluded? Or will the delusions themselves manifest differently? It would interesting to see how much of the environment really plays a part in the development of paranoid/delusional disorders and thinking. Just a thought.

Anyway, the guy in that TED talk started this website and I’ve checked it out, it’s awesome!  The human-to-human interface,  the machine he used in this TED talk (although probably not equipped with quantum physics as of YET; let me finish taking my physics classes and I’ll get started right away) is $260. I’m thinking of buying one. They have tons of little other gadgets and work with students, teachers, whoever, to get kids and schools interested in such an understudied field like neuroscience. How else are we going to improve on the disgraces we call psychotropic medication? If no one’s studying it, well you’re going to be stuck taking a cocktail of pills that will eventually ruin your heart, your liver, kidneys, and other such vital organs. We need researchers. And I think handing a kid a machine where they can control their friends arm with their brain can go one of two ways:

  1. Turn them into a raging mad scientist who deconstructs the machines and rebuilds a new one and incorporates quantum properties and ends up controlling the presidents, kings, and prime ministers of the world and makes them hit that big red nuclear war button on accident when he really meant to make them pick up that hot cup of coffee and spill it on the vice president as a joke and then destroys all of humanity except the cockroaches.
  2. Or motivates them into a future career in neuroscience and understanding the brain.

I mean, life is really all a big 50/50 isn’t it? You might wake up, you might not; you might have kids, you might not; you might laugh at that corny joke your professor tells, you might not; You might like the new Imagine Dragons album, you might not.

Completo: The Table Top Electrophysiology device. Fit for High School students or Graduate students!

I’m going to check out their Completo and find myself some Earthworms and probe the fuck out of them and measure the fuck out of their sensory neurons. I’m drooling just thinking about it. I will never sleep again if I start purchasing their equipment. Don’t feel sad for the Earthworms, they gave their life to science. Which do you think they prefer: to be used for amateur neurological research or to be eaten by some asshole fish? I mean, really, pick and choose here people, I’m making his demise worth something.

Anyway, I’d recommend checking out these guys if you’re at all interested in the brain or current research going on. More power to them; I think they’re doing a great job making this type of equipment available to anyone.

Kids learn way better when they see science in action rather than sitting in a chair and learning “This is a muscle. This is a bone. This is a brain. This is a cell. Now go home”. We need more little aspiring neuroscientists in this world.

Let’s Get Technical For A Minute

America loves drugs.

It’s true!

People talk down to the heroin addicts living on the street but don’t understand there’s a high probability their addictions started with a much more familiar, socially acceptable Opiate substance you could get through any old lazy doctor willing to push out a prescription. It’s no secret, I hope, that doctors are indeed paid for pushing and promoting certain drugs. I doubt these doctors are bad people, but they are gullible, a tad greedy, and shockingly ignorant. Some of them are probably evil. Maybe a particularly insensitive antisocial personality manipulated their way through 12 years of college just so they could legally kill people. I don’t know. If I was antisocial and bloodthirsty, it’s what i’d do. Not to make anyone paranoid or anything.

Honesty is the best policy.

Regardless, these multi-billion dollar companies have a lot of competition within each other. It’s not about you at this point, it’s about them.  Because playing by the rules is way too hard for people with a brain the size of a needle head, bribery is the name of the game. Researchers get paid to put out false information. For example, if they’re researching a “new” drug and don’t conclude results of a best seller, they just, well. . . make it up. It’s very simple. Under fraudulent acts and publication bias, it happens every day. The FDA can only catch so many people. I hope it’s also not a surprise that half of the drugs you need a prescription for have generic, over the counter equivalents for half the price.

I can’t speak for biotechnology or biochemists, but in terms of psychiatry this becomes just as much of a life-threatening issue as it is for people with physical illnesses. We’ve somehow went from mental illness as a psychological issue to mental illness as a biological issue.

There are slews of new atypical antipsychoics with claims of being better than neuroleptics. You know, Latuda, Abilify, Fanapt, whatever. Even more so are being administered as monthly injections and used for people with depression rather than psychosis. Now, I’m not here to drug bash. Some people are helped tremendously, but others don’t ever notice much of a difference besides well . . .energy levels, anxiety levels maybe. They’re good sedatives that’s for sure, especially if your psychiatrist is rather generous with your dosage. And the sad thing is the only real difference between atypicals and neuroleptics is: we don’t know about the harmful side effects of atypicals. They haven’t been used long enough. We know Haldol and Thorazine are fucking ridiculous; We know about Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome, we know that they put you in a pretty drugged up stupor, and we definitely know they and other neuroleptics cause EPS symptoms like Tardive Dyskinesia (irregular, involuntary jerking movements). They say these symptoms will go away with time but the truth of the matter is many people suffer with it for the rest of their life whether they continue the medication treatment or not. Cases are tried every day of people suing these companies for killing their autistic child with some heavy neuroleptic or permanently damaging their brain.

So what do we know about Fanapt? Well, it came out in 2009. You . . . you might experience some weird heat sensations, almost as if you were popping X, so if you knew anything about psychology you could guess it effects your hypothalamus. Tachycardia snuck in there as a possible side effect. Hm . . . you might get dizzy, have dry mouth . . . you know, the regular list of shit that probably won’t kill you or permanently damage you.

Then again, we don’t know what damage it causes because it’s only been out for six years.

And yet they keep coming out with more.

Saying “this is new, this is better, prescribe this one with this other one, and oh yeah this one!”

And the next thing you know you’re on three or four different drugs sitting on your couch wondering what happened with your life and why you’re still depressed.

Well let me tell you something quite obvious: the drugs have the same ingredients. There’s no doubt about it. They’re all binding with the same receptors. Because we don’t know shit about the brain.

There, I said it.

We. Don’t. Know. Shit.

So you are not a patient or a client of your psychiatrist or general practitioner (why do people go to a G.P for psych meds anyway???), you are a subjects in an experiment run by multi-billion dollar corporations.

That sounds really horrible. It’s not, if you really give it some nonjudgmental thought. You may pay for it with your life, but someone would have anyway. There’s no other way to find these kinds of things out other than test them.

Okay, take a breather.

Let’s take this to another level. If you’re publishing false articles in a psychiatric journal (for your own gain) about this new miracle drug, and clinical psychologists are reading it thinking “oh this sounds new and fun, I think it might work for my client” and prescribes it with a true belief it’s different from what they have been prescribing, than that makes everyone a liar and the client gets the raw end of a deal so raw it’s dripping three cups of blood per second.

Not to mention Insurance companies are steady fucking the shit out of the psycho-pharmaceutical companies ass until they both get off all over the walls. Then they sneak into your bedroom at night and stick the tip in without you ever noticing. But that’s a story for another day I suppose.

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I wrote this post because I’ve been noticing a lot of people write about SSRI’s and other such psychotropic drugs. As an aspiring psychiatrist I’m not anti-drug entirely, I’m anti-stupidity. And what goes on behind closed doors of these companies someone suffering psychosis or mania or depression will most likely never know. They take what their doctor says because, hell, it keeps most of them from running down the street screaming neologisms at the top of their lungs.

And here marks the death of the psychology of mental illness. May it rest in peace.

One last time, let me reiterate: we don’t know shit about the brain. And to prove it, I’d like to run through a quick personal story.

When my diagnosis was simply social anxiety I took an SSRI called Lexapro for nine months. I got off of it because of severe weight gain, cystic acne, night mares, and lack of success. I was also in therapy at the time. I left my therapist and got off the medication. Four months later I started having Panic attacks. Three years later and I sit here still will panic attacks, but with better control over them. I’d attributed these attacks to the progression of untreated anxiety.

Until.

I saw the article that changed my life.

A college in Finland found evidence of high levels of serotonin in the brains of people specifically with social anxiety disorder. You can check out information about it here.

The original belief was that anxiety in general is caused by not enough serotonin. So what do SSRI’s do? Inhibit re-uptake of the neurotransmitter serotonin so that it puddles in the synapse. Well, if Finland’s findings are accurate to the majority of people, that doesn’t help someone like me. I’ve got enough serotonin floating around up there. No wonder that medication didn’t do jack shit but make me look like I slammed heroin.

So, if you look at this as a biological issue, it seems we’ve reached an impasse. Not all anxiety has to do with low levels of serotonin anymore. We put a hole in that ignorant bucket. I have a feeling we’ll be putting a lot more holes in a lot more buckets.

With more than 100 neurotransmitters identified, people can’t seriously believe this bullshit about having a drug treat one or three neurotransmitters and have it be a profound change in the brain without simultaneously screwing something up, can they? Brains are too complex for that petty shit.

That doesn’t mean put people on six different prescriptions, either, wise asses.

If you’ve ever at any point in your life taken several antidepressants and wondered why you were still depressed, why none of your medication for any mental issue has ever worked for you, or why your anxiety medication doesn’t stop your anxiety, I hope this provided at least a little insight.