Tag Archives | Depression

Ketamine (Special K) May Be Best Medicine For Depression

Ketmine Injection I.P..jpg

Photo: Psychonaught (CC)

Amazingly enough the powerful hallucinogen ketamine (the horse tranquilizer sometimes known as Special K) is being touted as a serious and better alternative to the SSRIs like Prozac. Report from the New York Times:

It is either the most exciting new treatment for depression in years or it is a hallucinogenic club drug that is wrongly being dispensed to desperate patients in a growing number of clinics around the country.

It is called ketamine — or Special K, in street parlance.

While it has been used as an anesthetic for decades, small studies at prestigious medical centers like Yale, Mount Sinai and the National Institute of Mental Health suggest it can relieve depression in many people who are not helped by widely used conventional antidepressants like Prozac or Lexapro.

And the depression seems to melt away within hours, rather than the weeks typically required for a conventional antidepressant.

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The Ketamine Key

415px-Ketamine2

K-holes for everyone!

via Psychology Today:

As with everything in the brain, the story isn’t so simple as a single neurotransmitter system like dopamine. Neurotransmitters have complex interactions. Another system using the neurotransmitter glutamate has always been known to be at the heart of depressive disorders. Glutamateis the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain, meaning it is the “on” switch. Problem is, if things are put “on” too aggressively or too much, you get what is called “excitotoxicity” leading to neuron damage and even cell death. There’s some evidence that glutamate overload of glutamate receptors like the NMDA receptor may be responsible for the key symptom of depression, anhedonia. Chronic stress seems to damage the nerve synapses.

In a recent paper (news coverage here), researchers described how they used a noncompetitive inhibitor of the NMDA receptor and partial dopamine receptor agonist, ketamine (originally developed as a tranquilizer/anesthetic agent that is now used mostly in veterinary practice and sometimes in children) to rapidly reverse the symptoms of anhedonia in depressed patients.

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Men, masculine pride and how to cope with depression

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

By Jason Spendelow, University of Surrey

Masculinity plays an important role in dealing with problems such as depression. Men often don’t feel able to reach out for assistance because both the symptoms of depression and the act of seeking help goes against a stereotypical view of how us blokes should or shouldn’t behave.

Of course, traditional masculine characteristics are not necessarily “good” or “bad”. Stereotypical male traits such as self-reliance and independence can be very valuable in life (for both men and women). But when demonstrated through unhealthy and over-used psychological practises, they can spell trouble for well-being and mark seeking help as off-limits.

For example, adherence to “strait-jacket” masculinity, might not only prevent getting treatment but also intensifies tactics such as hiding depressed mood and increasing risk-taking behaviours such as substance use.

Different strategy needed off the pitch.

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What If Everything We Know About Treating Depression Is Wrong?

"How to Overcome Depression" by Kevin Dooley via Flickr

“How to Overcome Depression” by Kevin Dooley via Flickr

Could it be that we’re treating the wrong part of the brain?

via AlterNet:

A new study is challenging the relationship between depression and an imbalance of serotonin levels in the brain, and brings into doubt how depression has been treated in the U.S. over the past 20 years.

Researchers at the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center and Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit have bred mice that cannot produce serotonin in their brains, which should theoretically make them always depressed. But researchers instead found that the mice showed no signs of depression, but instead acted aggressively and exhibited compulsive personality traits.

This study backs recent research that indicates that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, may not be effective in lifting people out of depression. These commonly used antidepressants, such as Prozac, Paxil, Celexa, Zoloft, and Lexapro, are taken by some 10% of the U.S.

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Antidepressants May Affect Feelings of Love

Were their original feelings a product of their depression/anxiety? Are their new feelings a product of the antidepressants? Could their feelings be attributed to the natural ebb and flow of relationships?

via Live Science:

Taking antidepressants may affect people’s feelings of love and attachment, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that men’s feelings of love tended to be affected more than women’s by taking antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which work mainly through the serotonin system. In contrast, drugs called tricyclic antidepressants, which affect the serotonin system less, seem to affect women’s feelings of love more than men’s, the researchers said.

“The good news is that there are a variety of agents for treating depression,” said study author Dr. Hagop S. Akiskal, a distinguished professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego.

In the study, researchers compared the effects of SSRIs and tricyclic antidepressants on the love lives of 192 people with depression — 123 women and 69 men — whose mean age was 41.

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The Worst Psychological Torture? Solitary Confinement

“Why Solitary Confinement Is The Worst Kind Of Psychological Torture” by George Dvosky at io9 outlines how solitary confinement came into use with the best of intentions, but is now understood to cause, in some cases, irreparable psychological damage.

This photo is of a recreation yard within the housing unit now referred to as the "Old Main." by Ken Piorkowski

This photo is of a recreation yard within the housing unit now referred to as the “Old Main.” by Ken Piorkowski

via io9:

There may be as many as 80,000 American prisoners currently locked-up in a SHU, or segregated housing unit. Solitary confinement in a SHU can cause irreversible psychological effects in as little as 15 days. Here’s what social isolation does to your brain, and why it should be considered torture.

There’s no universal definition for solitary confinement, but the United Nations describes it as any regime where an inmate is held in isolation from others, except guards, for at least 22 hours a day. Some jurisdictions allow prisoners out of their cells for one hour of solitary exercise each day.

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Conquering the Stigma Of Mental Illness From Within: Why ‘Suck It Up’ Makes Things Worse

PIC: Pablo Picasso, "Melancholy Woman"

PIC: Pablo Picasso, “Melancholy Woman”

Janice Arenofsky writes at Esperanza:

When Stacy G. was diagnosed with depression, the Calgary mother of two rejected the notion. In her family, mental illness was either a taboo topic or ridiculed with terms like “nut cake” or “nut job.” Stacy blamed her persistent sadness and negativity on a stressful job and pledged to banish this “crappy thing” from her life through sheer determination. Friends told her to think positively, turn herself over to God or push through it.

“You see people every day thinking you should just ‘suck it up’ …,” says Stacy, referring to widely held views that depression is a moral failing or character flaw.

Then a close family friend died, and her “suck it up” strategy stopped working. Once a Type A personality, she became easily fatigued and unable to concentrate or cope with pressure. She couldn’t stop crying. She began to draw away from friends and family, in part from fear of their negative reactions.

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Why FDR Didn’t End the Great Depression – and Why Obama Won’t End This One

President_Barack_ObamaAlan Nasser writes at CounterPunch:

From Cambridge University in 1932-1933, John Maynard Keynes observed a promising new U.S. president presiding over what he saw as half-baked and confused policies, while labor insurgency was mounting. Roosevelt’s measures were, Keynes conceded, without precedent, but novelty was not enough. Long-term commitment to direct federal employment was required. For Keynes, this was the bottom line. (For a detailed analysis of Keynes’s prescriptions for eliminating unemployment, see Alan Nasser, “What Keynes Really Prescribed,” CounterPunch subscription edition, volume 19, number 19, 2012)

Existing programs were not only too small, but they were also either temporary (Civilian Conservation Corps and Civil Works Administration) or irrationally tied to the severely weakened states’ ability to raise substantial revenues on their own (Federal Emergency Relief Act and Public Works Administration). CWA had come closest to the kind of commitment Keynes thought indispensable, but it suffered two fatal defects: it was temporary, designed only to help workers get through the harsh winter of 1933, and of all these programs it was the object of Roosevelt’s greatest suspicion.

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Editor’s Note: Suicide

NOPE. NOT IN THE LEAST, BROTHER.

NOPE. NOT IN THE LEAST, BROTHER.

We’ve had several posts recently that have examined the topic of suicide. It’s a very complicated issue, and a difficult one to parse out in an environment where anonymity can sometimes bring out the very worst (and sometimes best, I admit) in people. Thankfully, the Disinfo crowd is a pretty civil one.

If you’ve followed my podcast (and writing) here, then you know that I’ve always striven to be honest with you, especially when it comes to my own personal issues. I have a very long family history of suicides, and I myself have dealt with depression and anxiety my entire life.  I talk about those things because I feel like they’re nothing to be ashamed of, and by speaking up then there’s a chance that someone else might not feel like they’re alone in dealing with this stuff.

If I had not resisted those self-destructive impulses (Let’s jump off the parking garage… Let’s drive the car into a telephone pole… Let’s eat a bullet… ) and the negativity (You’re doomed… You’ll never fit in… You’re an embarrassment… ) and spoken up, I would have missed out on a ton of stuff, and I don’t even mean the usual “sunshine and bunnies” things.… Read the rest

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