Yerba Mate (Ilex Paraguariensis) articles summary using NLP

The following summary was created using a google search for specific phrases and then performing natural language processing steps for sentence scoring. Yerba mate is an evergreen tree/shrub that grows in subtropical regions of South America. The leaves of the plant are used to make tea. Yerba mate tea contains caffeine and theobromine, which are known to affect the mood. I was interested in summarizing the existing articles in regards to research on this plant in psychiatry.

The first search phrase used was “yerba mate psychiatry depression research evidence“, and the number of collected articles for this phrase was 18. The text from all articles was combined, and relative word frequencies were calculated (after removing stop-words). These relative frequencies were then used to score each sentence. Sentence length distribution was checked, and the 90th percentile of 30 words was chosen to select sentences below the maximum length. Below are the 10 highest scoring sentences that summarize the text from the 18 articles.

We can infer from the summary that studies have been performed using the yerba mate extract on rats and tasks for chosen as proxies for the rats’ depression and anxiety levels. There are no mentions of human studies in the summary. Also the chosen sentences indicate that based on these studies, yerba mate has potential antidepressant activity, and it may improve memory as well. The results of the anxiety study were not mentioned and it’s not clear whether there were any side effects from yerba mate. These results are in line with descriptions of personal experiences of reddit users that I have reviewed, as many report better mood and improved focus after drinking yerba mate tea. Some users do report increased anxiety correlated with yerba mate consumption.

View abstract. J Agric.Food Chem. Vitamin C Levels Cerebral vitamin C (ascorbic acid (AA)) levels were determined as described by Jacques-Silva et al. Conclusion: In conclusion, the present study showed that Ilex paraguariensis presents an important effect on reducing immobility time on forced swimming test which could suggest an antidepressant-like effect of this extract. Despite previous some studies show the antidepressant-like activity of flavonoids [31, 32] which are present in the extract of I. paraguariensis, any study has evaluated the possible antidepressant-like activity of it. The presence of nine antioxidants compounds was investigated, namely, gallic acid, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, catechin, quercetin, rutin, kaempferol, caffeine, and theobromine. Abstract In this study, we investigated the possible antidepressant-like effect of I. paraguariensis in rats. Another study showed that an infusion of I. paraguariensis can improve the memory of rats treated with haloperidol and this effect was related to an indirect modulation of oxidative stress . In addition to flavonoids as quercetin and rutin and phenolic compounds as chlorogenic and caffeic acids, yerba mate is also rich in caffeine and saponins . After four weeks, behavioral analysis of locomotor activity and anxiety was evaluated in animals receiving water (n = 11) or I. paraguariensis (n = 9). In the same way, we evaluated if the presence of stimulants compounds like caffeine and theobromine in the extract of I. paraguariensis could cause anxiety. In the present study, we evaluated the possible antidepressant-like effect of I. paraguariensis by using forced swimming test (FST) in rats. Forced Swimming Test This experiment was performed using the FST according to the method previously published by Porsolt et al. In this context, Yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis) is a beverage commonly consumed in South America especially in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay. I. paraguariensis reduced the immobility time on forced swimming test without significant changes in locomotor activity in the open field test.

I also tried several other search phrases, such as “yerba mate mood anxiety evidence” and “yerba mate side effects evidence“. In total of 17 articles were collected for the first query and 19 articles for the second query. The summaries are presented below. There was nothing in the summary directly discussing mood or anxiety, but there are mentions of neuroprotective effects and antioxidant effects. We can also learn that a cup of yerba mate tea has similar caffeine content as a cup of coffee, and that drinking yerba mate is not recommended while pregnant or breastfeeding. As in the previous summary, no human trials were mentioned, so it seems that all the summarized studies were performed on rats. The side effects query summary mentions the risk of transferring the caffeine from the tea to the fetus when pregnant, as well as a link to cancer for those who drink both alcohol and yerba mate. It also mentions and anxiety is a side effect of the tea.

Query 1:
View abstract. J Agric.Food Chem. On the other hand, studies conducted on an animal model showed chemopreventive effects of both pure mate saponin fraction and Yerba Mate tea in chemically induced colitis in rats. Yerba Mate Nutrition Facts The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one cup (12g) of a branded yerba mate beverage (Mate Revolution) that lists just organic yerba mate as an ingredient. Researchers found that steeping yerba mate (such as in yerba mate tea) may increase the level of absorption. Yerba mate beverages are not recommended for children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Chlorogenic acid and theobromine tested individually also had neuroprotective effects, but slightly weaker than Yerba Mate extract as a whole, but stronger than known neuroprotective compounds, such as caffeine [ 83 ]. The caffeine content in a cup (about 150 mL) of Yerba Mate tea is comparable to that in a cup of coffee and is about 80 mg [ 1 , 11 , 20 ]. In aqueous and alcoholic extracts from green and roasted Yerba Mate, the presence of chlorogenic acid (caffeoylquinic acid), caffeic acid, quinic acid, dicaffeoylquinic acid, and feruloylquinic acid was confirmed. After consumption of Yerba Mate tea, antioxidant compounds are absorbed and appear in the circulating plasma where they exert antioxidant effects [ 55 ]. According to the cited studies, Yerba Mate tea consumption attenuates oxidative stress in patients with type 2 diabetes, which may prevent its complications.

Query 2:
View abstract. J Agric.Food Chem. Because yerba mate has a high concentration of caffeine, drinking mate tea while pregnant can increase the risk of transferring caffeine to the fetus. J Ethnopharmacol. South Med J 1988;81:1092-4.. View abstract. J Am Coll Nutr 2000;19:591-600.. View abstract. Am J Med 2005;118:998-1003.. View abstract. J Psychosom Res 2003;54:191-8.. View abstract. Yerba mate consumed by those who drink alcohol is linked to a higher risk of developing cancer. Anxiety and nervousness are a side effect of excessive yerba mate tea consumption.

Reddit Depression Regimens cont’d

Previous posts on the topic of scraping reddit data from the depressionregiments subreddit:

Reddit Depression Regimens – Topic Modeling

Reddit Depression Regimens – Topic Modeling cont’d

Next we will create some plots with javascript. For example, it would be interesting to see how often specific psychotropic medications and supplements are mentioned in the text data.
Below is a chart with frequencies of the most common antidepressant medications. The counts were performed by combining the frequencies of the brand name and the chemical name (for example Wellbutrin count is wellbutrin (54) + bupropion (27) = 81).

The data was generated using python and exported as a .csv file, with columns ‘term’ and ‘freq’.

HTML part:

  <script src=""></script>
  <script src=""></script>
  <script src=""></script>
  <script type="text/javascript" src="script1.js"></script>
<body onload="draw()">
chart 1
<div id="jsdiv" style="border:solid 1px red"></div>
chart 2
<canvas id="chart"></canvas>

JS part:

function makeChart(meds) {
  // meds is an array of objects where each object is something like

  var hist_labels = {
    return d.term;
  var hist_counts = {
    return +d.freq;

  arrayOfObj =, i) {
      return {
        label: d,
        data: hist_counts[i] || 0
  sortedArrayOfObj = arrayOfObj.sort(function(a, b) {
      return -;

   newArrayLabel = [];
   newArrayData = [];

  var chart = new Chart('chart', {
    type: "horizontalBar",
    options: {
      maintainAspectRatio: false,
      legend: {
        display: false
    data: {
      labels: newArrayLabel,
      datasets: [
          data: newArrayData,
          backgroundColor: "#33AEEF"
    options: {
      scales: {
        yAxes: [{
          scaleLabel: {
            display: true,
            labelString: 'med name'
        xAxes: [{
            scaleLabel: {
                display: true,
                labelString: 'freq'
      legend: {
          display: false
      title: {
          display: true,
          text: 'Frequencies of common antidepressants'

// Request data using D3

We can generate charts with other medication/supplement lists using the same code. Below is a plot with frequencies of common antipsychotics. As you can see, antipsychotics are not mentioned that frequently as antidepressants, and a lot of names in the input list were not mentioned at all (such as haldol or thorazine), and therefore they do not show up in the chart.

Other medications and common supplements mentioned:

Reddit Depression Regimens – Topic Modeling cont’d

In the previous posts we applied LDA topic modeling to text documents from data collected from the subreddit depressionregimens. Here I will continue with the results from the derived topics model – obtaining the most representative text for each topic. As was stated, the chosen model has ten topics, and LDA assumes that each document is composed of multiple topics, with each topic being assigned a probability. Each topic is composed of multiple words, with each word assigned a probability.

Previous post: Reddit Depression Regiments – Topic Modeling

Since each document is composed of multiple topics, for each topic we can find a document with the highest probability for that topic, therefore that will be our most representative document.

Topic 1

(‘feel’, 0.040), (‘year’, 0.026), (‘thing’, 0.022), (‘symptom’, 0.020), (‘brain’, 0.019), (‘start’, 0.018), (‘time’, 0.017), (‘make’, 0.015), (‘issue’, 0.015), (‘lot’, 0.014)

Most representative post id with topic 1 probability of 0.45:
Full text here:

“Blank Mind Syndrome” – Sub group of specific symptoms including: – Loss of Internal Monologue, lack of coherent automatic thoughts, no track of time passage, lack of self insight – Depersonalisation/Derealization Feeling detached, having no “sense of self”, missing mental features, having no emotional autobiography, feeling as if every day is the same, loss of relationship or emotional attachments, feeling detached from external reality – Cognitive Decline, Loss of Visual imagination, inability to think in a deep or complex way, inability to hold information, loss of past learned skills and knowledge. – Complete Lack of goal-directed motivation, having no automatic self direction, no long term goals – Anhedonia – inability to enjoy or derive pleasure, nothing to look forward to, no bodily joy, satasfaction and so on – Lack of atmosphere/deepness of the outside reality, inability to appreciate beauty, things look flat and insignificant. All symptoms in various severity of course, It’s time to talk, what is this condition exactly, Did you suffer from depression your entire life? Is this episodic? how are you planning to solve it? how did you acquire it? had any professional been aware of it? Is it medication induced? Is there any outside outlet acknowledging this specific phenomena? How much time do you suffer from it? What were you diagnosed with? Was it sudden or progressively? Had anything helped at all? Would you join a group for people suffering the same condition? Is anyone interested in doing so? Please do respond!

Topic 2

people 0.044, depression 0.037, doctor 0.028, psychiatrist 0.020, make 0.020, bad 0.016, therapy 0.016, therapist 0.015, find 0.014, problem 0.013

Most representative post for this topic, with probability for topic 2 of 0.53:

I talked to him today, he says all my problems are my choice and I choose to be lazy, suicidal, depressed etc. Is he right?,Dude… if he believes this then he must also believe that his career is total quackery. Get a new psychiatrist immediately. What a piece of shit.,absolutely not, please get a new psychiatrist!! you don’t choose to be suicidal or depressed, and in my experience, depression causes laziness more often than not. it’s worrisome that a professional outright said this to you and honestly I would report him if you can. that’s such a harmful thing to say to anyone suffering from such issues and to say it to the wrong person could be really catastrophic. i’m sorry he’s a dick to you, don’t listen to his bullshit. if it was so easy as to choose not to be depressed then nobody would fucking be depressed. it’s like he thinks people enjoy feeling this way ugh,OMG please please PLEASE never go back there. I once had a psychiatrist tell me I was gonna end up on a street corner with a sign (spoiler alert: I have a career and own a house). I got up and left and never looked back. Remember that YOU are a huge part of your mental health journey. It’s a collaborative effort between you, your psychiatrist, therapist (if you have one), and any other professional you choose to involve. You always have a say, and if something doesn’t seem right, you don’t have to go along with it. Your feelings are ALWAYS valid—don’t ever let anyone tell you differently. You are not alone in this. So many of us are depressed, anxious, suicidal, attention deficit, bipolar, lazy…these are NOT choices. Who would choose to be this way? There are plenty of helpful professionals out there, just make sure you screen them carefully. I believe in you and wish you well!!! …

Topic 3

day 0.037, thing 0.035, feel 0.033, make 0.024, find 0.017, good 0.016, exercise 0.016, eat 0.013, walk 0.013, lot 0.013

Topic probability: 0.53

Wanted to share something that I’ve recently found to help when I’m struggling to find motivation to complete basic chores. This one specifically deals with laundry, but it can apply to other tasks as well. If you’re like me, you can have laundry sitting there for weeks not being put away. The mountain of clothing is so overwhelming that I just ignore it all together. I’m also an all-or-nothing person; I just wait and wait until a good day when I’ll have enough energy to get it done. Those days are exceedingly rare, so that mountain of clothes will sit there for a loooong time, stressing me out and depressing me even more. I’m trying to switch my mindset to not feeling like I need to take on such giant tasks all at once. I decided to break up the tasks into smaller ones. For the mixed load of laundry that needed to be put away, I told myself I only need to put away the socks and underwear today. Then tomorrow I put away the shirts. The next day, fold pants, and the next everything else that goes on hangers. These smaller tasks only take like 5-10 minutes each, and it’s satisfying to see the pile of clothes dwindle every day versus sit there ominously for several weeks. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, break up your tasks into very small, easily attainable goals. Go easy on yourself and do what you can for the day. Even just the tiniest amount of progress is a good thing.,great advice. ​ Anytime you get anxiety over a task or a situation seems to complex or overwhelming. Just break in down into manageable pieces. Doing SOMETHING is always better than nothing even if it seems like too little or not enough or w/e.,I saw a meme about ‘anything worth doing is worth doing badly’ that addresses this. I try and remember that some days. Us perfectionists want to always do 100%. But in a lot of things (not everything, obviously, just as a general rule) doing 50% of the job, or 90% of the job, is way better then the 0% of the job we do because of that crippling dedication to doing 100%. Not an excuse for doing bad jobs on the stuff that really matters, but can be a much healthier way to approach doing general day-to-day stuff…

Topic 4

ssris 0.027, antidepressant 0.024, effect 0.024, drug 0.022, side_effect 0.020, depression 0.019, serotonin 0.016, prescribe 0.014, treat 0.013, ssri 0.012

Reddit post:

Topic probability: 0.64

Hey y’all, this is a repost of the stickied post made by /u/jugglerofworlds, who appears to have deleted their account and their post along with it. I’ve edited it a little and will continue to keep it updated as needed. Suggestions are welcome. As the former post was, I’m trying to keep this confined to prescription medications, and not natural/herbal remedies (though I recognize that they definitely can be helpful means of treatment). I’m also typically avoiding medications that have been withdrawn from the market and thus aren’t really prescribed. In a future revision of this post I hope to add an additional column featuring which medications are available where, as some of these are approved in European countries but not in the U.S., and vice versa. # Icon key * ✔️ = approved to treat condition by a regulatory agency (FDA, EMA, ANSM, etc) * ➕ = approved as an adjunct treatment by a regulatory agency, to be used in combination with other medications to treat a condition (may or may not be used off-label as a monotherapy) * 🏷️ = Off label use; widely prescribed for condition but not necessarily rigorously studied for it * ⚠️ = experimental medication; in FDA Phase III trials or pending approval # Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) |Generic name|Brand name(s)|Treats depression|Treats anxiety| |:-|:-|:-|:-| |citalopram|Celexa|✔️|🏷️| |escitalopram|Lexapro|✔️|✔️| |fluoxetine|Prozac|✔️|✔️| |fluvoxamine|Luvox/Luvox CR|✔️|✔️| |paroxetine|Paxil/Paxil CR|✔️|✔️| |sertraline|Zoloft|✔️|✔️| # Serotonin Modulator and Stimulators (SMS) |Generic name|Brand name(s)|Treats depression|Treats anxiety| |:-|:-|:-|:-| |vortioxetine|Trintellix|✔️|🏷️| |vilazodone|Viibryd|✔️|🏷️| # Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs) |Generic name|Brand name(s)|Treats depression|Treats anxiety| |:-|:-|:-|:-| |venlafaxine|Effexor/Effexor XR|✔️|✔️| |desvenlafaxine|Pristiq|✔️|🏷️| |duloxetine|Cymbalta|✔️|✔️| |milnacipran|Savella|✔️|✔️| |levomilnacipran|Fetzima|✔️|🏷️| |atomoxetine|Strattera|⚠️|⚠️| # Tricyclics (TCAs) ## TCAs with a preference for serotonin |Generic name|Brand name(s)|Treats depression|Treats anxiety|…

Topic 5

treatment 0.035, ketamine 0.028, year 0.022, work 0.021, drug 0.017, hope 0.015, hear 0.012, lithium 0.011, people 0.010, infusion 0.009

Reddit post:

Topic probability: 0.58 ​ The Food and Drug Administration approved a novel antidepressant late Tuesday for people with depression that does not respond to other treatments — the first in decades to work in a completely new way in the brain. The drug, a nasal spray called esketamine, has been eagerly anticipated by psychiatrists and patient groups as a powerful new tool to fight intractable depression. The spray acts within hours, rather than weeks or months as is typical for current antidepressants, and could offer a lifeline to about 5 million people in the United States with major depressive disorder who haven’t been helped by current treatments. That accounts for about one in three people with depression. “This is undeniably a major advance,” said Jeffrey Lieberman, a Columbia University psychiatrist. But he cautioned much is still unknown about the drug, particularly regarding its long-term use. “Doctors will have to be very judicious and feel their way along,” he said. The label for the drug will carry a black box warning – the most serious safety warning issued by the FDA. It will caution users they could experience sedation and problems with attention, judgment and thinking, and that there’s potential for abuse and suicidal thoughts. People who take esketamine will have to be monitored for at least two hours after receiving a dose to guard against some of these side effects…

Topic 6

work 0.053, anxiety 0.030, mg 0.025, bad 0.020, high 0.020, vitamin 0.018, diet 0.015, supplement 0.014, post 0.012, literally 0.011

Reddit post:

Topic probability: 0.52

About 3 or 4 years ago, I developed a severe form of anxiety disorder where it manifested in panic attacks characterized by intense bouts of nausea, gagging, and retching. It didn’t usually get bad enough to get to vomiting, though it did in a few instances (in which I went to the hospital afterwards). My body responds to stress naturally by gagging and nausea. So imagine being anxious all the time but also NAUSEOUS 24/7, and I mean literally 24/7 without any respite. At times I was seriously considering suicide because of how bad I felt all the time every day. The whole thing started I think because I had to present at a large conference with thousands of people in attendance, and I had a very bad experience being insulted by some people at a previous iteration of this conference years ago. I was commuting to work one day (before the conference) and suddenly got this massive bout of nausea where I felt like I was dying. I realized however that this was my body telling me I have stagefright. I expected my nausea to evaporate once I finished speaking, as it usually would have in the past. Except that it didn’t. It stayed, and remained with me for years. I tried everything but avoided antidepressants for the longest time due to the bad rep they get. I tried the following medications: * Ginger – in various forms – for nausea (didn’t work) * Peppermint – in various forms – for nausea (didn’t work) * Ondansetron (zofran) – 4 mg; as needed – for nausea (didn’t work) * Chlordiazepoxide/clidinium bromide (librax) – 5 mg; once daily – for nausea and anxiety (didn’t work) * Pyridoxine/doxylamine (diclectin) – 10 mg pyridoxine, 10 mg doxylamine; 2 tablets at bedtime – for nausea (didn’t work) * Metoclopramide – 1 tablet daily – for nausea (didn’t work) * Domperidone – 10 mg; once daily – for nausea (didn’t work) * Propranolol – 10 mg; twice daily – for anxiety (didn’t work) * Prochlorazapine – 10 mg; twice daily – for nausea (didn’t work) * Lorazepam (Ativan) – 1 mg; 1 tablet at bedtime – for anxiety (didn’t work; just made me really sleepy) * Pantoprazole (Tecta) – 1 tablet daily – for nausea (didn’t work) * Dimenhydrinate (Gravol) – 1 tablet as needed – for nausea (didn’t work) * Nabilone (cesamet) – 0.5 mg as needed – for nausea (worked for nausea but not anxiety, and gave me a really uncomfortable high) * Clomipramine (Anafranil) – 10 mg. once daily – for anxiety (didn’t try properly due to side-effects) I was afraid even of getting out of my own house. I was afraid of meeting people. I was afraid of leaving my own room – the only place where I felt somewhat at ease and the nausea wasn’t THAT bad. The only thing that worked somewhat to relieve the nausea was chewing on things, whether that meant food at mealtimes, or fennel seeds, or sucking on mints/cough drops. So I carried mints and fennel seeds with me at all times no matter where I was – including in the washroom in my own house and even when I wanted to take a shower I had to have them nearby otherwise I would literally throw up in the shower. But these were not long-term cures to my problem and only a short alleviation of the symptoms (and not that effective if I was more anxious than usual). I somehow graduated from university with a degree in neuroscience and fought through this nausea-anxiety for 2 years doing so. My graduation ceremony – which was supposed to be a happy occasion – was marred by constant nausea and me going through at least 3 entire tins of mints because my body handles excitedness the same way as it does for anxiety. Literally nothing was working and I was at my wit’s end. So I went downtown Toronto and bought CBD oil from a dispensary. I only did this because I was literally desperate, even though I had never done any recreational drugs in my life upto that point (except caffeine), and even though I had a horrible experience with nabilone (synthetic THC for cancer patients to reduce their nausea) so I was really kind of anxious about even using that. But it worked…

Dr. Roger McIntyre: Mood Disorders and Metabolic-Inflammatory Comorbidity

Very interesting lecture found on YouTube – Dr. Roger McIntyre is a quite important guy in psychiatry here in Toronto. He is a Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology at the University of Toronto and Head of the Mood Disorders Psychopharmacology at UHN. He is also the director of the first Ketamine Infusion Therapy Clinic for depression in the GTA.

So in this lecture, which was posted in 2016, he talked about how just elevated C-reactive protein, a sign of general inflamamtion in the body, leads to anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure), apathy, and destuction in the brain of dopamine neurons. I wish more psychiatrists would actually listen to his lectures as well. I got a feeling, from personal experience, that some psychiatrists weren’t aware about the link between inflammaion and anhedonia, because they easily prescribed antipsychotics that cause severe weight gain. Dr. McIntyre actually speaks in the lecture against easily prescribing antipsychotics for depression, as weight gain is known to increase inflammation and therefore actually cause anhedonia/dysphoria.
So basically when an antipsychotic is described for depression – the antipsychotic reduces dopamine, since that is its function, and then further you can have death of dopamine neurons through inflammation, so that can result in complete dysphoria.

Prospective studies revealed that the average weight gain during the first year of treatment was 11.7 to 13.9 lb for clozapine, 15 to 26 lb for olanzapine, 4.4 to 5.1 lb for risperidone, 6.1 to 13.3 lb for quetiapine, and less than 2 lb for aripiprazole and ziprasidone.

Dr. Roger McIntyre: Mood Disorders and Metabolic-Inflammatory Comorbidity


Vitamins before antidepressants . Vitaminas antes de los antidepresivos.

Texto en español a continuación.

This post will not be against antidepressants. I only want to share my experiences, in case they might help someone. I found out the hard way that eating healthy and obtaining all the basic vitamins is necessary (but not sufficient) for mood stability and emotional regulation. Unfortunately not all doctors or psychiatrists check for vitamin and mineral deficiencies before prescribing antidepressants. There is a lot of research indicating that many vitamins and minerals are important for the functioning of neurotransmitters. So I am not stating ‘always vitamins instead of antidepressant’, but in my opinion as a patient, diet should always be reviewed first. Especially if you have any gastrointestinal problems, family history of gastrointestinal issues, or you live in a northern country. Also if you are vegan, vegetarian, or have any other food restrictions.

I have written in my previous posts about getting a diagnosis of autoimmune encephalitis, but let’s set that aside for now. I did end up being referred to a neurologist, but in this post I want to focus on my experience with psychiatrists. When I was referred to a psychiatrist by the emergency department, several blood tests were performed. Blood glucose level, iron level, thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) test results were sent to the psychiatrist. Since these test results came back normal, right away the psychiatrist prescribed me mirtazapine.

Mirtazapine did not help my mood and I only gained weight on it and had trouble waking up in the morning. Therefore, my dissatisfaction with this approach is that several important blood tests were not prescribed. For example, I live in a northern country, therefore it is possible to be deficient in vitamin D. They also didn’t ask me about my diet, but a spicy diet can lead to deficiencies in B vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids. Additional point – my blood glucose was checked only once, it was not proven how I react to eating carbohydrates.

Later I discovered that I was deficient in vitamin D, that my blood sugar level would jump too high after eating refined carbohydrates, and I was not getting enough folic acid and calcium. By not performing the necessary laboratory tests, the doctor lost a lot of time and delayed my treatment. I was also taking unnecessary high doses of antidepressants, which were not helping.


Esta publicación no será contra los antidepresivos. Solo quiero compartir mis experiencias, en caso de que puedan ayudar a alguien. Descubrí por las malas que comer sano y obtener todas las vitaminas básicas es necesario (pero no suficiente) para la estabilidad del estado de ánimo y la regulación emocional. Desafortunadamente, no todos los médicos o psiquiatras verifican las deficiencias de vitaminas y minerales antes de recetar antidepresivos. Hay mucha investigación que indica que muchas vitaminas y minerales son importantes para el funcionamiento de los neurotransmisores. Por lo tanto, no estoy diciendo “siempre vitaminas en lugar de antidepresivos”, pero en mi opinión como paciente, la dieta siempre debe revisarse primero. Especialmente si tiene problemas gastrointestinales, antecedentes familiares de problemas gastrointestinales o si vive en un país del norte. Además, si eres vegano, vegetariano o tienes otras restricciones alimenticias.

He escrito en mis publicaciones anteriores sobre el diagnóstico de encefalitis autoinmune, pero dejemos eso de lado por ahora. Terminé siendo referido a un neurólogo, pero en esta publicación quiero centrarme en mi experiencia con los psiquiatras. Cuando el departamento de emergencias me remitió a un psiquiatra, me realizaron varios análisis de sangre. Los resultados de las pruebas de nivel de glucosa en sangre, nivel de hierro y hormona estimulante de la tiroides (TSH) se enviaron al psiquiatra. Como los resultados de estas pruebas mostraron ser normales, de inmediato el psiquiatra me recetó mirtazapina.

Mirtazapine no ayudó mi humor y solo subí de peso, y tuve dificultad para despertar en las mañanas. Entonces, mi insatisfacción con este enfoque está que varios análisis de sangre importantes no fueron prescritas. Por example, vivo en un país del norte, por lo tanto está posible estar deficiente en vitamina D. También no me preguntaron sobre mi dieta, pero una dieta espicifica puede conducir a las deficiencias en vitaminas B y ácidos grasos omega 3.  Punto adicional – mi glucemia se comprobó solo una vez, no fue probado cómo reacciono al comer carbohidratos.

Mas tarde descubrí que era deficiente en vitamina D, que mi nivel de azúcar en la sangre saltaria demasiado alto después de comer carbohidratos refinados, además no estaba recibiendo suficiente ácido fólico y calcio. Al no realizar las pruebas de laboratorio necesarias, el doctor perdió mucho tiempo y retrasó mi tratamiento. Además estaba tomando dosis altas innecesarias de antidepresivos, que no estaban ayudando.

SSRIs, fungi, and exotic botanicals

This post is about comparing my experiences with fluoxetine (Prozac – an SSRI), psilocybe mushrooms, lion’s mane mushroom, and yerba mate tea. Of course this is my personal experience, not a medical study. Remember that everyone is affected differently by psychoactive compounds. In fact recently my friend told me an interesting scientific theory in regards to why humans differ a lot psychologically. Have you heard of fungi that make ants climb on top of a leaf, hook themselves, and stay there without eating, basically committing ant suicide? The spores of the fungi then burst from the ant and go on to grow into new fungi. Ophiocordyceps unilateralis is called the zombie-ant fungus.

“Researchers think the fungus, found in tropical forests, infects a foraging ant through spores that attach and penetrate the exoskeleton and slowly takes over its behavior.

As the infection advances, the enthralled ant is compelled to leave its nest for a more humid microclimate that’s favorable to the fungus’s growth. The ant is compelled to descend to a vantage point about 10 inches off the ground, sink its jaws into a leaf vein on the north side of a plant, and wait for death.

Meanwhile, the fungus feeds on its victim’s innards until it’s ready for the final stage. Several days after the ant has died, the fungus sends a fruiting body out through the base of the ant’s head, turning its shriveled corpse into a launchpad from which it can jettison its spores and infect new ants.”

So what does this have to do with humans being different? The theory says that humans evolved to react differently to same psychoactive molecules in order to not become victims to simple fungi organisms. Since the infectious fungi are not very complex organisms, they can only release so many molecules. By evolving to have complex brains and having individuals react differently to the same psychoactive molecule, humans became resistant to being overtaken by simple fungi. The theory is that there is no one molecule that a fungi could produce that would make all humans act the same, stop whatever they were doing, walk to a nice moist and wooded area, lie down, and wait for fungi spores to emerge from them.

Back to fluoxetine and shrooms


Fluoxetine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. N-methyl-3-phenyl-3-[4-(trifluoromethyl)phenoxy]propan-1-amine.  It delays the reuptake of serotonin, resulting in serotonin persisting longer when it is released. Also dopamine and norepinephrine may contribute to the antidepressant action of fluoxetine in humans.

From wiki: Fluoxetine elicits antidepressant effect by inhibiting serotonin re-uptake in the synapse by binding to the re-uptake pump on the neuronal membrane to increase its availability and enhance neurotransmission. Norfluoxetine and desmethylfluoxetine are metabolites of fluoxetine and also act as serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, so increase the duration of action of the drug. Fluoxetine appeared on the Belgian market in 1986. In the U.S., the FDA gave its final approval in December 1987, and a month later Eli Lilly began marketing Prozac.


Fluoxetine is one of medications considered to be effective for PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). Also research indicates that low doses of fluoxetine could help with PMS. PMS appears to be triggered by the fall in secretion of the ovarian sex steroid hormone progesterone that occurs towards the end of the menstrual cycle and leads to a decline in its breakdown product allopregnanolone, which acts in the brain as a potent sedative and tranquilising agent. In other words, women with PMS are undergoing a type of drug withdrawal response from an in-built, tranquilising steroid chemical in their brains. New research shows that antidepressants such as fluoxetine inhibit a specific enzyme in the brain, which deactivates allopregnanolone, therefore maintaining the chemical balance of this in-built tranquiliser in the brain. Recent findings published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, show that short-term treatment with a low dose of fluoxetine immediately prior to the rat’s premenstrual period not only raised brain allopregnanolone and prevented the development of PMS-like symptoms but also blocked the increase in excitability of brain circuits involved in mediating the stress and fear responses that normally occur during this phase of the cycle.

Enzyme identified that could lead to targeted treatment for PMS

A review of studies found that fluoxetine was more tolerabled by female patients than tricyclic amine antidepressants (Amitriptyline, Imipramine). ” In this study, a retrospective analysis of 11 randomized, double-blind, well-controlled trials was done to compare data from 427 female patients on fluoxetine and 423 female patients on TCAs. Both fluoxetine and TCAs significantly reduced the HAMD17 total mean score from baseline to end point, week 5 (fluoxetine, 24.35 to 14.37; TCAs, 24.57 to 14.43; p < 0.001). Both treatment groups were associated with significant reductions in the HAMD17 anxiety/somatization and insomnia subfactor scores. Abnormal vision, constipation, dizziness, dry mouth, and somnolence occurred more frequently (p < 0.05) in the TCA group. Insomnia and nausea were the only adverse events more common (p < 0.05) in the fluoxetine group. This study demonstrates that fluoxetine is an effective and tolerable agent for the treatment of major depressive disorder in women.”

Fluoxetine vs. tricyclic antidepressants in women with major depressive disorder

My experience with fluoxetine – the first time that I took 10mg of fluoxetine, I felt a difference in less than three hours. It was as if I was taken out of a dark basement and into a sunny day in July. Unfortunately I also experienced insomnia that did not go away and I had a sense of apathy, in the end I stopped taking fluoxetine, but I know many women who swear by it.


Next I will mention psilocybin. Psilocybin is a psychedelic compound produced by more than 200 species of mushrooms. Psilocybin is quickly converted in human body to psilocin. Psilocin is a prtial agonist for several serotonin receptors. An agonist is a chemical that binds to a receptor and activates the receptor to produce a biological response. Recently there has been increased reseach interest in psilocybin and how it could help with depression.

“A landmark study conducted by the Beckley/Imperial Research Programme has provided the first clinical evidence for the efficacy of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy to treat depression, even in cases where all other treatments have failed. We gave oral psilocybin to 20 patients with treatment-resistant depression, all of whom had previously tried at least two other treatment methods without success. Participants had suffered from depression for an average of 18 years, with severity ranging from moderate to severe. Each patient received two doses of psilocybin (10 and 25mg) 7 days apart, accompanied by psychological support before, during, and after each session. All participants also underwent brain scans to investigate the neural underpinnings of psilocybin mechanisms of action on depression. Follow-up examinations were carried out at 5 weeks, and three and six months. Results highlights All patients showed some reductions in their depression scores at 1-week post-treatment and maximal effects were seen at 5 weeks, with results remaining positive at 3 and 6 months. Notably, reductions in depressive symptoms at 5 weeks were predicted by the quality of the acute psychedelic experience. The drug was also well tolerated by all participants, and no patients sought conventional antidepressant treatment within 5 weeks of the psilocybin intervention. While it is important to note that this was a relatively small study with no control group, placebo, or ‘blinding’ (meaning participants were fully aware what they were getting), the results are extremely encouraging and confirm that psilocybin is safe to give to depressed patients, warranting further research into this area.”

Sceletium tortuosum (Kanna) – a plant commonly found in South Africa.  Laboratory studies have found that Sceletium alkaloids are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Thus, they have the same action as pharmaceutical SSRIs such as Prozac. Animal studies have found that Sceletium can improve mood and reduce anxiety-related behaviours.



List of medications and supplements for depression and obsessive thoughts

Here I will list different medications, supplements, and  procedures that are used to treat depression, anxiety, and obsessive/suicidal thoughts. I am not suggesting that you go out and buy a bunch of antidepressants and try them one by one, I just want you to be aware of what exists out there so that you can discuss this with your doctor. Some things, such as a daylight lamp, or omega 3s, don’t require prescription. Since I have been dealing with autoimmune encephalitis for more than three years already,  I have tried most of these treatments in attempts to reduce my depressive symptoms, psychosis, and intrusive thoughts.

Many people do get better with antidepressants. I have to note though, that in my case, the most useful treatment was high-dose intravenous steroids (IV Solu-Medrol) for five days. I did have severe psychotic depression with suicidal tendencies, my neurologist and psychiatrist propose that this was due to autoimmune encephalitis (Hashimoto’s encephalitis) – brain inflammation. Many people have milder depression and do well after antidepressant treatment. My state has improved but it is not without moments of intrusive thoughts and for this reason I continue trying different methods.




How does your psychiatrist determine which antidepressant to try? It seems that in general this is not based on any specific medical tests, but is based on the discussion with you about your symptoms. I did get a genetic test done on my saliva. This was part of CAMH Impact Study in Toronto, the provided report is called GeneSight Psychotropic Test. The company states that their test “analyzes how your genes affect your response to psychotropic medications commonly prescribed to treat depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder, schizophrenia and other behavioral health conditions. There are dozens of medications used to treat depression and other mental illnesses and selecting the right antidepressant medication or other medication can be a challenging and frustrating process. GeneSight Psychotropic’s genetic testing enables your clinician to identify and avoid depression, anxiety and/or other medications that are unlikely to work or may cause side effects.” This test was provided to me for free by CAMH in Toronto.

GeneSight Psychotropic Test link

New antidepressants: 

There are three new antidepressants that have become recently available in US and Canada – vortioxetine, levomilnacipran extended-release (ER), and vilazodone. Vortioxetine – may enhance serotogenic activity via reuptake inhibition of serotonin receptors. Levomilnacipran is a a serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. Vilazodone is a serotonin reuptake inhibitor and partial serotonergic 5-HT1A receptor agonist.

The role of new antidepressants in clinical practice in Canada: a brief review of vortioxetine, levomilnacipran ER, and vilazodone


Sometimes antipsychotics are added to antidepressants during treatment. Usually antipsychotics are used to treat schizophrenia, why are they given to depressed patients? I think the reason is that many patients don’t achieve remission with antidepressants, so other medications/methods must be tried. In the large National Institute of Mental Health Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) trial, only about 30% of patients achieved remission (virtual absence of depressive symptoms) after up to 12 weeks of first-line treatment with citalopram. Evidence of the usefulness of atypical antipsychotics in treating MDD goes back more than 7 years (statement from 2009). A controlled trial found that the combination of olanzapine and fluoxetine was more helpful in treating patients with MDD (without psychosis) than fluoxetine or olanzapine alone.2 The group that received combination therapy did significantly better than the others. In November 2007, the FDA approved aripiprazole as the first atypical antipsychotic to treat MDD. It is specifically for adjunctive treatment, along with an antidepressant, for the treatment of refractory MDD.

Atypical Antipsychotics for Treating Major Depression

Aripiprazole (Abilify) – was approved by FDA for major depressive disorder in 2007, for patients who had inadequate response to antidepressants. Aripiprazole is a partial agonist at dopamine D(2) and D(3) and serotonin 5-HT1A receptors, and is an antagonist at 5-HT(2A) receptors.

Ripseridone – risperidone has actions at several 5-HT (serotonin) receptor subtypes. A study showed that depression symptoms improved modestly but significantly more in the risperidone group compared with the placebo group, as measured by clinician-rated symptom response and patient-rated self-assessment. The 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression score improved more in the risperidone group versus the placebo group.

Quetiapine (Seroquel) – quetiapine is a dopamine, serotonin, and adrenergic antagonist, and a potent antihistamine with some anticholinergic properties. Quetiapine binds strongly to serotonin receptors; the drug acts as partial agonist at 5-HT1A receptors. One study involved more than 700 people who had suffered from depression for at least one month but less than one year. Patients were randomly assigned to take one of three doses of Seroquel or a placebo once a day for six weeks. Those taking Seroquel showed greater improvement in depression symptoms than those on placebo.


St. John’s Wort  – hypericum perforatum, it is a flowering plant. Sold in health stores/drug stores/online. A 2008 review of 29 international studies suggested that St. John’s wort may be better than a placebo and as effective as different standard prescription antidepressants for major depression of mild to moderate severity. A 2015 meta-analysis review concluded that it has superior efficacy to placebo in treating depression, is as effective as standard antidepressant pharmaceuticals for treating depression, and has fewer adverse effects than other antidepressants.[23] The authors concluded that it is difficult to assign a place for St. John’s wort in the treatment of depression owing to limitations in the available evidence base, including large variations in efficacy seen in trials performed in German-speaking relative to other countries. In Germany, St. John’s wort may be prescribed for mild to moderate depression, especially in children and adolescents.

Omega – 3 – omega-3 fatty acids are found in oily fish such as salmon. You can also purchase fish oil supplements in health stores/online. In general eating oily fish is considered to be a healthy choice. There is some evidence that omega-3s might help with depression, but this evidence is not very strong. From Cochrane review: “At present, we do not have enough high quality evidence to determine the effects of n-3PUFAs as a treatment for MDD. We found a small-to-modest positive effect of n-3PUFAs compared to placebo, but the size of this effect is unlikely to be meaningful to people with depression, and we considered the evidence to be of low or very low quality, with many differences between studies.

SAMe – S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe) is a compound found naturally in the body. SAMe helps produce and regulate hormones and maintain cell membranes. A synthetic version of SAMe is available as a dietary supplement in the U.S. In Europe, SAMe is a prescription drug.  From Cochrane review: “We included eight studies involving 934 people in this review. There was no strong evidence of a difference in effectiveness between SAMe and imipramine or escitalopram when used alone. It was superior to placebo when used in combination with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants, but this evidence was of low quality. There was no significant difference in terms of effectiveness between SAMe and placebo alone, but again this evidence was of very low quality.

Folic acid – also known as vitamin B9. Foods that are naturally high in folate include leafy vegetables (such as spinach, broccoli, and lettuce), okra, asparagus, fruits (such as bananas, melons, and lemons) beans, yeast, mushrooms, meat (such as beef liver and kidney), orange juice, and tomato juice.

“The evidence for a link between depression and folate levels comes from various sources. Along with vitamins B6 and B12, folate helps break down the amino acid homocysteine. High blood levels of homocysteine are associated with Alzheimer’s disease and depression, although a cause-and-effect relationship hasn’t been proven. The breakdown of homocysteine generates SAMe, a major constituent of brain cells and, some think, a possible treatment for depression. Low levels of SAMe might explain any connection between folate and depression.”

Folate for depression

Probiotics – there is one combination of two bacterial strains that has shown some promise in treating mental health issues. Bifdobacterium longum R0175 and L. helveticus R0052 have been found to reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety. In Canada there are two brands with these strains – CalmBiotic and Jamieson Probiotic Sticks.

Clinical Guide to Probiotic Products Available in Canada

Other things to consider

  • Getting tested for hypo/hyperthyroidism – potential need for thyroid hormones

Treating an underactive thyroid gland may improve mood

  • Getting tested for anemia

Sometimes the first symptoms of iron deficiency are neurologic

  • Getting tested for coeliac disease – possible benefit from excluding gluten from diet

The Link between Celiac Disease and Depression

  • Autoimmune disease testing – includes coeliac disease, hashimoto’s thyroiditis, autoimmune encephalitis, lupus, type 1 diabetes, etc.

Infection, autoimmune disease linked to depression

  • Don’t forget to exercise and eat healthy! I really mean it, you just really need to do it, there is no other way…

Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms

Mediterranean diet tied to lower risk of depression