Showing posts with label medicine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label medicine. Show all posts

January 28, 2023

Desperate for uplifting news, look for advances in medicine. Here's one about treating depression.

 Desperate for uplifting news, look for advances in medicine. Here's one about treating depression
By Hal Brown, MSW,
retired psychotherapist and mental health center director

The photo used in the article had a stone wall as a background. I changed it for an illustration used in another article for this blog.

Most, perhaps all, of the readers of my political stories, have to cope with varying levels of anxiety and depression over the future of our country. I don't have to spell out what we are afraid of. 

One article in the website NeuroscienceNews.com tells us what we already know:

When Chronic Stress Activates These Neurons, Behavioral Problems Like Loss of Pleasure and Depression Result


To use a non-scientific word, this is a bummer.

When there's another revelation that makes you want to scream in outrage or hide your head under a blanket, for just one example, this story from yesterday's HUFFPOST:

Right-Wing Media, Top Republican Team Up To Push Racist Conspiracy Theory About Ex-Biden Aide, if you look for them you will find inspiring news that has nothing to do with politics.

I've been writing about the pleasure in the misfortune of other, or schadenfreude, I feel when MAGA's like Trump, Taylor Greene, Devolder-Santos, and hapless Kevin McCarthy who has to sleep on the spiky mattress bed he's made for himself, and find they've stepped in either a bear-trap or a pile of shit.

There is perverse pleasure in following the misfortune of these despicable characters. The German word for this experience is schadenfreude. I've used this word in two recent blogs: More Schadenfreude: John Bolton, Trump, and DeSantis for President and  Santos leads the GOP in eliciting Schadenfreude, no doubt more to come.

There's all kinds of good news in addition to political news eliciting a feeling of schadenfreude. I follow news about advances in other kinds of science besides medicine. Our knowledge of psychics and the cosmos is increasing at a furious rate but while this often fascinates it doesn't directly effect my life or the lives of the people I care about.

It is what we are learning about medicine that affects each of us most directly. We all know about the advances which hopefully be coming within a year for developing better vaccines and treatments to fight against Covid, a disease those lucky enough not have had it know any day we could have a symptom that prompts us to take the test and discover we have been infected. 

Those of us who follow medical news closely know advances are being made treating or slowing the progress of demential and Alzheimer's. There are early promising clinical trials being started for cancer treatments.

The ailment that is the most closely related to politics is depression, often associated with anxiety. 

If someone already has clinical depression they could be living in the glory days of the Obama administration or JFK's Camelot and they'd still be depressed.
For someone who already struggles with depression dealing with the news about what the GOP is hellbent of turning the government and the country into causes anxiety. Anxiety is always stressful. It leads to worry and worry easily worsens existing clinical depression and for those not already clinically depressed it can be the cause of clinical depression.

There are a number of old treatments for depression that have proved effective including a number of anti-depressant medications, newer medications, and cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy. A treatment that has gained in popularity since it was introduced in 2008 is Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

Studies show that almost 15 million Americans over the age of 18 suffer from severe depression. I don't have numbers for how many suffer from mild to moderate depression but even periods of mild depression can lead to a drastic change in how someone experiences their life.

Consider the dates on the following chart and note that happened in 2016 when Trump was elected:






Now for the good news that led me to write this.
 
You can say this isn't breaking news in that it comes from October, 2022. However, it is really new news because I haven't seen it reported in the mainstream media. It tells us that a promising avenue of research has been opened. It is also new news if it is new to you.

A Drug That Increases Dopamine Can Reverse the Effects of Inflammation on the Brain in Depression - Neuroscience News

The drug being studied for depression in Levodopa, often called L-DOPA. To say it has been around for a long time is an understatement. If you saw the Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro movie "Awakenings" (based on a 1970 book with the same name by Oliver Sacks) this was the drug used to "awaken" the patient played by DeNiro.

The drug was first studied in the 1950's. Two Nobel Prizes were awarded to the scientists who developed it. (Read more on Wiki)

There are lots of ways to deal with our anxiety and depression and the tole it takes on our quality of life. Recognizing that there is help available and not feeling stigma if you consider seeking it is certainly crucial. Since you're reading this blog you're not likely to be a macho MAGA asswipe who calls liberals who get counseling and therapy snowflakes

If liberals are snowflakes, or overly sensitive, the MAGA's who call them that are insensitive bullies throwing iceballs with rocks in them. (I remember one snowball fight at the school playground where some kids who thought they were tough guys put rocks in their snowballs.)

Dear fellow snowflakes, please be proud that you have feelings and empathy and all the other traits that make you a decent person. Take care of yourself. And when things are really looking dismal - whether from the world of politics to mass shootings to police violence, do what works for you to lessen your stress.

If taking a time out from the news words, do that. Take time to appreciate your family, nature, and indulge yourself in uplifting streaming video like one of our favorites, the Canadian series Heartland. Try something new that you've been putting off doing like joining a yoga group or exercising more. I'm lucky enough to have a pool where I live so I am trying to get into a swimming routine.

Try to remember that there are talented dedicated people, heroes really, who are working their damnedest to help us make our lives better. Those who come to mind most frequently make the news. 

While a few scientists like Dr. Fauci make the news there are countless researchers like those referenced in the article about L-DOPA who also are working tirelessly to benefit not only us, but humanity.

You can following breaking news in various areas in medicine by subscribing to or looking at Neuroscience News, Medscape, Psychiatric Times, and PLOS.

Some of these articles have technical titles like

Functional connectivity in reward circuitry and symptoms of anhedonia as therapeutic targets in depression with high inflammation: evidence from a dopamine challenge study. This may account for the reason that the mainstream media doesn't report on them. They may include terms like anhedonia which basically means reduced motivation, reduced anticipatory pleasure (wanting), reduced consummatory pleasure (liking).  This includes eating, touching a loved one, and engaging in sexual interactions. It happens to be the name of a movie.

Nixon and Kennedy were evenly matched intellectually in their first debate. Nixon lost because of how he looked on TV. Trump may lose because he "loses it" on TV. By Hal Brown, MSW

  Read: Team Biden bets an unfiltered Trump at the debate can shake up the race GOP pollster Frank Luntz said the June 27 faceoff will be &q...