Breastfeeding and dopamine volatility

It’s really fascinating, did you know that breastfeeding can cause dopamine crashes?

Not everyone who drinks coffee gets a coffee crash, but if you do, you know what I’m talking about. A cup of strong coffee makes more dopamine suddenly more available. Then for the next few hours you are rewarded more by your brain for anything that you do, so you feel more confident and successful at your tasks, you feel better about doing them. Then dopamine reabsorption blocking decreases, and less dopamine becomes available. A coffee crash is exactly that – for those who are sensitive to this decrease in available dopamine, you suddenly feel a “realization” that in fact what you are doing is pointless, and all we are is dust in the wind.

Well, turns out that breastfeeding triggers a similar mechanism – when prolactin increases, less dopamine becomes available.

Breastfeeding and dopamine article

Health habits – some interesting myths

There are some advice that we hear many times from multiple people, but some common beliefs about health habits are not actually true. Fat was thought to be a cause of obesity, but that is contradictory to the more recent findings that low carb high fat diets can promote weight loss. Low fat products turned out to be high in carbs, and actually less healthy. Unsaturated fats such as olive oil and avocado are now promoted as health foods, and salmon, which contains high levels of fat, is considered to be very nutritious and beneficial for brain health. What are then some of the other myths about health habits?

Hot cocoa before bed can help you sleep – actually the National Sleep Foundation recommends avoiding dark chocolate/cocoa/cacao in the evening. Dark chocolate contains caffeine, therefore a cup of hot cocoa would not be caffeine free. The USDA National Nutrient Database indicates that a cup would contain 7.44 mg caffeine. That’s not a lot, but chocolate also contains theobromine, which increases hearth rate and can cause sleeplessness. Theobromine is an alkaloid, it is found in the cacao plant, the tea plant, and the kola nut. All of these plants are known stimulants. Therefore the combination of caffeine and theobromine for a lot of people would create a state of alertness, and therefore it will not help you sleep. Interesting fact – caffeine is partly metabolized into theobromine in humans. Theobromine is also an antagonist of adenosine receptors, just as caffeine, but weaker. Wakefulness is promoted when adenosine receptors are blocked in the brain.

Coffee increases anxiety – I don’t think there is a yes or no answer to this question, that’s why this statement is not correct. It seems that it varies for people. For some it seems that it does increase cortisol and therefore can contribute to feelings of anxiety and fear. For others it may actually be helpful. Some studies indicate that coffee is beneficial for people with OCD and helped to reduce intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviours.
The roles of arousal and inhibition in the resistance of compulsive cleansing in individuals with high contamination fears

We are better off taking a multivitamin every day – no, we don’t actually know that. Maybe, maybe it makes no difference, maybe worse off. Obtaining vitamins and minerals from food, plus from a multivitamin, may lead to overconsumption. And more, as we know, is definitely not always better. Over consumption of folate may increase the risk of some cancers, overconsumption of iodine may lead to thyroid disorders, too much vitamin A can be harmful, and iron build up in the brain may be associated with declines in thinking and memory.
Folate consumption
Iron and the brain

Mood supplements that are sold over the counter are safer than antidepressants – they are really not. For example, 5-HTP supplement is sold in most pharmacies in Canada and in health stores, that doesn’t make it safer than Prozac. From Wiki: 5-Hydroxytryptophan is a naturally occurring amino acid and chemical precursor as well as a metabolic intermediate in the biosynthesis of the neurotransmitter serotonin. So if you consume it, will it just raise your serotonin and make you happier? Not necessarily. If someone is unaware that they are bipolar, taking supplements such as SAMe, 5-HTP, or St. John’s Word could make them manic. These supplements are not mood stabilizers. And since it can affect serotonin levels, it is not without side effects, just as antidepressants are not. Some people experience increased suicidal thoughts when taking medications or supplements that increase serotonin. You can also read user reviews of 5-HTP to see for yourself that it is not completely safe. Some users state experiencing elevated heart rate, vivid nightmares, suicidal thoughts, and insomnia. Be careful with any supplement that you try, observe any changes that happen, read about possible side-effects and contraindications.
https://www.drugs.com/comments/5-hydroxytryptophan/

Red meat and dairy are bad for you – I heard this often, but it’s not what actually recent studies show. I’m sure in some high amounts, daily consumption of red meat and dairy would lead to too much saturated fat, but that does not mean that the optimal amount is zero. A recent article in Nature states that the longest life expectancy in Japan may be related to the balanced diet consisting of a typical Japanese diet food products, as well as Western diet items such as meat and dairy. “The decreasing mortality rates from cerebrovascular disease are thought to reflect the increases in animal foods, milk, and dairy products and consequently in saturated fatty acids and calcium, together with a decrease in salt intake which may have led to a decrease in blood pressure… The typical Japanese diet as characterized by plant food and fish as well as modest Westernized diet such as meat, milk and dairy products might be associated with longevity in Japan.
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41430-020-0677-5

There are also inconclusive results in regards to red meat consumption and mental health. A systematic review of meat abstention and depression, 2020, indicated that “the most rigorous studies demonstrated that the prevalence or risk of depression and/or anxiety were significantly greater in participants who avoided meat consumption.” On the other hand, a cross-sectional study published in 2021 concluded that “after controlling for potential confounders, women in the highest quartile of red meat had a highest prevalence of depressive symptoms.”
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10408398.2020.1741505
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0965229920318550

Inflammation and Schizophrenia – a short lecture

Came across this short lecture on schizophrenia and the inflammation hypothesis. The author mentions three hypothesis for the causes of schizophrenia – elevated dopamine, glutamate receptor abnormalities, and inflammation. He also mentions the fact that autoimmune diseases can present with psychosis – lupus, Hashimoto’s encephalopathy, celiac disease, etc. It’s great to hear a professional acknowledging this fact, as not all doctors look into the link between psychiatric symptoms and autoimmune diseases.

Important notes from the lecture – some inflammation can be determined in a straightforward way by checking the C-reactive protein levels. Elevated levels of this substance increase the risk of schizophrenia onset. C-reactive protein levels are used to check for infection or chronic inflammatory disease, they also lead to increased risk of heart disease. It can be elevated due to a variety of diseases, such as obstructive sleep apnea, some viral infections, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.
In one study lumbar puncture was performed on a sample of patients with schizophrenia. 54% of the patients had self-directed antibodies in the cerebrospinal fluid (another piece of evidence to support the immune system disturbance hypothesis). What could the antibodies be targeting? Possibly neuronal proteins or neuronal receptor proteins.

Inflammation and Schizophrenia video lecture

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:

<html>
<head>
  <script src="https://cdn.plot.ly/plotly-2.0.0.min.js"></script>
  <script src="https://d3js.org/d3.v5.min.js"></script>
  <script src="https://cdn.jsdelivr.net/npm/chart.js@2.9.3"></script>
  <script type="text/javascript" src="script1.js"></script>
</head>
<body onload="draw()">
chart 1
<div id="jsdiv" style="border:solid 1px red"></div>
chart 2
<canvas id="chart"></canvas>
</body>

JS part:

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

  var hist_labels = meds.map(function(d) {
    return d.term;
  });
  var hist_counts = meds.map(function(d) {
    return +d.freq;
  });

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

   newArrayLabel = [];
   newArrayData = [];
   sortedArrayOfObj.forEach(function(d){
      newArrayLabel.push(d.label);
      newArrayData.push(d.data);
    });


  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
d3
  .csv("med_list_counts_df.csv")
  .then(makeChart);

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: https://www.reddit.com/r/depressionregimens/comments/gib17h

“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: https://www.reddit.com/r/depressionregimens/comments/iij4tr

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

https://www.reddit.com/r/depressionregimens/comments/dztdw9

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: https://www.reddit.com/r/depressionregimens/comments/bheg7d

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: https://www.reddit.com/r/depressionregimens/comments/axtnj8

Topic probability: 0.58

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2019/03/06/biggest-advance-depression-years-fda-approves-novel-treatment-hardest-cases ​ 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: https://www.reddit.com/r/depressionregimens/comments/alh4r3

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…

Reddit Depression Regimens – Topic Modeling

Text data (top posts and top comments for those posts) was downloaded from the subreddit depression regimens (https://www.reddit.com/r/depressionregimens/). Data was grouped by post id, in total there were 101 such ids, therefore 101 text documents. After collecting the data, the following data cleaning steps were performed:

  • any emails were removed from text
  • urls were removed (http and www)
  • common contractions were expanded (‘ain’t >> ‘is not’; ‘bday’ >> ‘birthday’; ‘don’t’ >> ‘do not’; etc.)
  • new line characters were removed
  • single quotes were removed

After the data cleaning steps were complete, sentences were tokenized into words, and punctuation was removed. English stop words were removed from documents. Python’s gensim.models.phrases.Phraser() was used in order to detect common phrases (bigrams). Lemmatization was then performed and part of speech tagging (POS). Only lemmatized words with certain POS tags were kept, including nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, and proper nouns. Proper nouns were kept in case medication or supplement names get tagged as such. We are interested in how reddit users describe their experiences with certain psychotropic medications and supplements, and therefore the chosen POS tags are the ones that are relevant for descriptions.

An example of an original post is presented below. As a human, we can decipher that the post below is about ketamine and that the user had a positive experience with this treatment. We would be interested in the verbs, adverbs, adjectives, and nouns, that the author used to describe their experience.


I wanted to post this to give hope to those who need a little extra. I know how excruciating both having and battling treatment options for depression and anxiety can be. I’ve seen what I thought was rock bottom. I’ve been to my actual rock bottom, but I am free now.

One year ago, I was sitting in the recliner at my local ketamine clinic receiving my first infusion. The day before I had outlined my plan for suicide and had all my affairs in order, but a friend I had confided in about my depression had a “feeling” I was in a very dangerous place inside my head. I don’t know how she knew what I was planning, but thank goodness she had the foresight and the strength to push me to try one. more. thing. I had heard (and shared) quite a few podcasts from people who had been through treatment, administered the treatments, and even those who had been doing the research behind it all. had been chatting about ketamine as a potential treatment since nothing else had ever worked. She researched clinics, called them all to pick the best one, and made the appointment on an urgent basis getting me in that day.

She took me to the doctor, and after a while, I told him about my plan. I told him that I would give this a try, but this was my last try. After 25 years of my brain being a lab rat for every pill imaginable, years and years of therapy and everything else you can imagine, I was just so tired. He was sympathetic, caring and sat with me for quite a while. Then he started that first IV.

I won’t bore you with all the details of treatment (feel free to ask), but I can say that after the first treatment – one year ago today – I didn’t want to die anymore. I haven’t wanted to since. From time to time, the depression will creep in a little too much for comfort, but I have a lot of self-care tricks to help me get through it. And if It comes down to it, I go in for a booster treatment.
In the past year, I have had 11 infusions. The last 3 were to help me get off the last, and most difficult antidepressant that I ever took. Now, I’m on a very low dose of Lexapro, which I honestly doubt I even need. But I’m stable. I actually know what happiness feels like. And most importantly, I’m alive.
Thanks for reading.

After we perform the steps described above – data cleaning, removing stop words, lemmatization, and keeping only terms with specific POS tags, extract common bigrams, the post above results in the following:

want post give hope need little extra know excruciating battle treatment option depression anxiety see think rock bottom actual rock bottom free year ago sit recliner local ketamine clinic receive first infusion day outline plan suicide affair order friend confide depression feel dangerous place head know know plan thank goodness foresight strength push try thing hear share quite podcast people treatment administered treatment even research chat ketamine potential treatment else ever work research clinic call pick good make appointment urgent basis get day take doctor tell plan tell would give try last try year brain lab rat pill imaginable year year therapy else imagine tired sympathetic caring sit quite start first bear detail treatment feel free ask say first treatment year ago today want die anymore want time time depression creep little much comfort lot self_care trick help come go booster treatment year infusion last help last difficult antidepressant ever take low_dose lexapro honestly doubt even need stable actually know happiness feel importantly alive thank read

In regards to topic modeling, we are interested in the general topics that are discussed in this particular subreddit, Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) can be used specifically for this sort of task. LDA is an unsupervised method for finding topics in text data. Our text is composed of documents, in this case each document is a combination of a post and top comments for a specific post id. LDA assumes that each document is composed of different topics and each topic is composed of different words. Therefore documents can contain overlapping topics and topics can contain overlapping words, but the probabilities for those topics and words will be different.

Since the problem is unsupervised, there are no labels, just text, and we don’t know how many topics there are in our subreddit. There is no exact formula to determine the optimal number of topics for the LDA model. One common way, that we will implement here, is to loop through different number of topics and calculate coherence scores. Then we should choose the model with the highest coherence score. In this specific case, I implemented models for 2, 4, 8, …, 14 topics, and plotted the corresponding coherence scores. As we can see from the chart, the highest value occurs when the number of topics is four, also we see peaks at 10 and 12 topics.

Now let’s see what the topics are.

Number of topics = 4

Topic 1 wordsWord probTopic 2 wordsWord probTopic 3 wordsWord probTopic 4 wordsWord prob
feel0.037day0.042depression0.017depression0.019
thing0.026work0.024effect0.014people0.017
depression0.022feel0.020antidepressant0.013year0.016
make0.021time0.020ssris0.012give0.016
life0.019sleep0.018doctor0.012treatment0.015
time0.013good0.014anxiety0.010month0.013
bad0.013thing0.012side_effect0.010start0.013
good0.012start0.010mg0.010find0.012
lot0.010bed0.009drug0.009hope0.012
depressed0.010exercise0.009psychiatrist0.009ketamine0.011

If we choose 10 topics:

Topic 1 wordsWord probTopic 2 wordsWord probTopic 3 wordsWord probTopic 4 wordsWord probTopic 5 wordsWord prob
feel0.039people0.044day0.037ssris0.027treatment0.035
year0.026depression0.037thing0.035antidepressant0.024ketamine0.028
thing0.022doctor0.028feel0.033effect0.024year0.022
symptom0.020psychiatrist0.020make0.024drug0.022work0.021
brain0.019make0.020find0.017side_effect0.020drug0.017
start0.018bad0.016good0.016depression0.019hope0.015
time0.017therapy0.016exercise0.016serotonin0.016hear0.012
make0.015therapist0.015eat0.013prescribe0.014lithium0.011
issue0.015find0.014walk0.013treat0.013people0.010
lot0.014problem0.013lot0.013ssri0.012infusion0.009
Topic 6 wordsWord probTopic 7 wordsWord probTopic 8 wordsWord probTopic 9 wordsWord probTopic 10 wordsWord prob
work0.053time0.033sleep0.053experience0.039life0.062
anxiety0.030make0.028day0.037day0.030feel0.030
mg0.025depression0.015time0.030feel0.029depression0.029
bad0.020long0.015bed0.024depression0.024thing0.020
high0.020call0.014start0.024mind0.020find0.019
vitamin0.018depressed0.014feel0.023give0.017good0.017
diet0.015feeling0.013morning0.020month0.017live0.017
supplement0.014people0.013wake0.018good0.015bad0.014
post0.012read0.013night0.014week0.013change0.014
literally0.011focus0.013hour0.013back0.012year0.013

I think that even with this small sample size – 101 top posts and corresponding top comments, LDA results provide us with a good understanding of what users discuss in the depressionregimens subreddit. There are discussions about life, feeling depressed, for how long the depression has been going on (mentions of week/month/year), mentions of how the day goes (Topic 7), mentions of specific treatments (Topic 4), supplements (Topic 5), SSRIs and side effects (Topic 3), exercise (Topic 2).

It’s possible to then apply the chosen model to each document in order to obtain the topics distribution by document. For example, we can choose the model with 10 topics, obtain topics distribution by document, and determine the topic with the maximum probability for each document. Then we can select sample documents that have the highest probability for a given topic. If we choose topic 2, which contains the following word distribution:

(‘people’, 0.04), (‘depression’, 0.038), (‘doctor’, 0.028), (‘psychiatrist’, 0.020),
(‘make’, 0.020), (‘bad’, 0.016), (‘therapy’, 0.016), (‘therapist’, 0.015), (‘find’, 0.014),
(‘problem’, 0.013)

We can find documents that have the maximum probability for topic 2:


“This might be an unconventional treatment considering that many of us post about their experience with various drugs.
I myself struggled with mental health in the past. I can say my mental health issues in the past were to 90% biological (hormonal problems). Once I treated the causes, over time the upwards spiral in my personal wellbeing (and life in general) started again.
In early twenties, my life was starting to go down the gutter. My life started to fall apart in every domain. I was severely depressed. I found out that some of my hormones were very low. I started hormone replacement. Whereas before my life was a nightmare, it has been great ever since. I could even get off the SSRIs I was on.
I wrote an article about my journey. How Hormones Destroyed and Saved My Life.
My dream is to live in a world where no one is held back from living an at least decent life the way I was. Even though not my fault, it is my life. And thus my responsibility. Without accepting and acting on that I just don´t know where I would be today. For sure I wouldn´t be writing this. Hope you find value in it… “

(Can read full text at https://www.reddit.com/r/depressionregimens/comments/lef32x )

The topics distribution for this document is as follows:
[1: 0.074, 2: 0.338, 3: 0.032, 4: 0.069, 5: 0.083, 6: 0.084, 7: 0.052, 8: 0.054, 9: 0.073, 10: 0.153]

Lemmatized text:

[‘may’, ‘unconventional’, ‘treatment’, ‘consider’, ‘many’, ‘us’, ‘post’, ‘experience’, ‘various’, ‘drug’, ‘struggle’, [‘may’, ‘unconventional’, ‘treatment’, ‘consider’, ‘many’, ‘us’, ‘post’, ‘experience’, ‘various’, ‘drug’, ‘struggle’, ‘mental_health’, ‘say’, ‘mental_health’, ‘issue’, ‘biological’, ‘hormonal’, ‘problem‘, ‘treat’, ’cause’, ‘time’, ‘upwards’, ‘spiral’, ‘personal’, ‘wellbeing’, ‘life’, ‘general’, ‘start’, ‘early’, ‘twenty’, ‘life’, ‘start’, ‘go’, ‘gutter’, ‘life’, ‘start’, ‘fall’, ‘apart’, ‘domain’, ‘severely_depresse’, ‘find‘, ‘hormone’, ‘low’, ‘start’, ‘hormone’, ‘replacement’, ‘life’, ‘nightmare’, ‘great’, ‘ever’, ‘since’, ‘could’, ‘even’, ‘ssris’, ‘write’, ‘article’, ‘journey’, ‘hormone’, ‘destroy’, ‘save’, ‘life’, ‘dream’, ‘live’, ‘world’, ‘hold’, ‘back’, ‘live’, ‘least’, ‘decent’, ‘life’, ‘way’, ‘even’, ‘fault’, ‘life’, ‘thus’, ‘responsibility’, ‘accept’, ‘act’, ‘know’, ‘would’, ‘today’, ‘sure’, ‘write’, ‘hope’, ‘find‘, ‘value’, ‘opinion’, ‘replace’, ‘hormone’, ‘deficient’, ‘far’, ‘natural’, ‘also’, ‘effective’, ‘artificial’, ‘med’, ‘however’, ‘believe’, ‘hormone’, ‘deficiency’, ‘may’, ‘much’, ‘common’, ‘assume’, ‘people‘, ‘never’, ‘get’, ‘hormone’, ‘check’, ‘often’, ‘even’, ‘life’, ‘want’, ‘give’, ‘head’, ‘other’, ‘pull’, ‘trigger’, ‘medication’, ‘claim’, ‘medication’, ‘work’, ‘hormone’, ‘check’, ‘opportunity’, ‘cost’, ‘high’, ‘similar’, ‘experience’, ‘hormone’, ‘hormone’, ‘dangerous’, ‘play’, ‘make‘, ‘sure’, ‘talk’, ‘doctor‘, ‘monitor’, ‘doctor‘, ‘lock’, ‘post’, ‘people‘, ‘would’, ‘see’, ‘unlocked’, ‘pm’, ‘otherwise’, ‘leave’, ‘lock’, ‘play’, ‘hormone’, ‘medical’, ‘supervision’, ‘highly’, ‘detrimental’, ‘health’, ‘thyroid’, ‘hormone’, ‘deficient’, ‘know’, ‘other’, ‘start’, ‘take’, ‘mcg’, ‘thyroxine’, ‘treat’, ‘hypothyroidism’, ‘run’, ‘family’, ‘fog’, ‘seem’, ‘lift’, ‘agree’, ‘hormone’, ‘underrated’, ‘come’, ‘depression‘, ‘thank’, ‘share’, ‘hormone’, ‘specifically’, ‘testosterone’, ‘direct’, ‘correlation’, ‘dopamine’, ‘high’, ‘test’, ‘high’, ‘dopamine’, ‘vice’, ‘versa’, ‘generally’, ‘testerone’, ‘wellbutrin’, ‘increase’, ‘libido’, ‘endocrine’, ‘system’, ‘research’, ‘seem’, ‘lag’, ‘research’, ‘treatment’, ‘know’, ‘million’, ‘could’, ‘suffer’, ‘needlessly’, ‘ignore’, ‘op’, ‘entire’, ‘post’, ‘structure’, ‘sway’, ‘people‘, ‘way’, ‘link’, ‘closing’, ‘paragraph’, ‘also’, ‘spamme’, ‘numerous’, ‘time’, ‘different’, ‘thing’, ’cause’, ‘depression‘, ‘know’, ‘enough’, ‘dark’, ‘age’, ‘exclusive’, ‘seratonin’, ‘hormone’, ‘receptor’, ‘regulation’, ‘drug’, ‘abuse’, ‘dopamine’, ‘ach’, ‘brain’, ‘damage’, ‘gaba’, ‘glutamate’, ‘imbalance’, ‘relate’, ‘several’, ‘brain’, ‘region’, ‘receptor’, ‘site’, ‘together’, ‘hormone’, ‘conversion’, ‘chain’, ‘adhd’, ‘bp’, ‘level’, ‘bdnf’, ‘several’, ‘type’, ‘disease’, ‘additionally’, ‘low’, ‘end’, ‘hormone’, ‘scale’, ‘total’, ‘free’, ‘may’, ‘feel’, ‘symptom’, ‘other’, ‘would’, ‘conversely’, ‘man’, ‘may’, ‘almost’, ‘nil’, ‘estrogen’, ‘high’, ‘estrogen’, ‘side_effect’, ‘decent’, ‘doctor‘, ‘full’, ‘blood’, ‘panel’, ‘hormone’, ‘panel’, ‘include’, ‘ask’, ‘depend’, ‘free’, ‘go’, ‘private’, ‘cost’, ‘uk’, ‘take’, ‘important’, ‘relative’, ‘commit’, ‘find‘, ‘thyroid’, ‘level’, ‘way’, ‘back’, ‘thyroid’, ‘problem‘, ‘handle’, ‘psych’, ‘med’, ‘need’, ‘depression‘, ‘probably’, ‘lifelong’, ‘become’, ‘unmanageable’, ‘thyroid’, ‘cancer’, ‘luckily’, ‘old’, ‘easy’, ‘catch’, ‘get’, ‘point’, ‘hormone’, ‘low’, ‘find‘, ‘hormone’, ‘check’, ‘yearly’, ‘perfectly’, ‘normal’, ‘even’, ‘high’, ‘yet’, ‘still’, ‘depressed’, ‘hormone’, ‘may’, ‘help’, ‘people‘, ‘many’, ‘still’, ‘depress’, ‘physiological’, ‘duck’, ‘row’, ‘infuriate’, ‘many’, ‘doctor‘, ‘refuse’, ‘prescribe’, ‘hrt’, ‘guess’, ‘taboo’, ‘medical’, ‘school’, ‘pull’, ‘tooth’, ‘find‘, ‘decent’, ‘doctor‘, ‘even’, ‘consider’, ‘apparently’, ‘fear’, ‘cancer’, ‘induce’, ‘hormone’, ‘frankly’, ‘rather’, ‘live’, ‘good’, ‘life’, ‘even’, ‘mean’, ‘get’, ‘cancer’, ‘live’, ‘cancer’, ‘free’, ‘life’, ‘mentally’, ‘miserable’, ‘post’, ‘multiple’, ‘account’, ‘whole’, ‘time’, ‘person’, ‘post’, ‘often’, ‘article’, ‘different’, ‘account’, ‘sometimes’, ‘claim’, ‘last’, ‘year’, ‘biology’, ‘student’, ‘other’, ‘last’, ‘year’, ‘medicine’, ‘student’, ‘post’, ‘lame’, ‘excuse’, ‘lure’, ‘costumer’, ‘hormetheu’, ‘thank’, ‘share’, ‘disregard’, ‘irrational’, ‘post’, ‘intelligent’, ‘enough’, ‘determine’, ‘right’, ‘see’, ‘sort’, ‘ground’, ‘swell’, ‘business’, ‘activity’, ‘even’, ‘touch’, ‘consultation’, ‘hormone’, ‘way’, ‘business’, ‘s’, ‘even’, ‘well’, ‘talk’, ‘get’, ‘free’, ‘professsional’, ‘guidance’, ‘think’, ‘people‘, ‘stick’, ‘depression‘, ’cause’, ‘people‘, ‘pursue’, ‘treatment’, ‘may’, ‘save’, ‘life’, ‘know’, ‘firsthand’, ‘appropriate’, ‘way’, ‘respond’, ‘tell’, ‘support’, ‘other’, ‘say’, ‘mother’, ‘first’, ‘tell’, ‘hit’, ‘would’, ‘sit’, ‘kitchen’, ‘table’, ‘cry’, ‘uncontrollably’, ‘start’, ‘hrt’, ‘right’, ‘take’, ‘nurse’, ‘year’, ‘tortuous’, ‘severe’, ‘depression‘, ‘ask’, ‘do’, ‘hormone’, ‘panel’, ‘flabbergast’, ‘go’, ‘lowt’, ‘men’, ‘health’, ‘center’, ‘addition’, ‘find‘, ‘severely’, ‘low’, ‘receive’, ‘great’, ‘man’, ‘health’, ‘care’, ‘know’, ‘funny’, ‘deduce’, ‘man’, ‘mid’, ‘life’, ‘crisis’, ‘hormone’, ‘imbalance’, ‘likely’, ‘low’, ‘get’, ‘ball’, ‘bust’, ‘buy’, ‘corvette’, ‘woman’, ‘get’, ‘sympathy’, ‘go’, ‘change’, ‘enough’, ‘question’, ‘come’, ‘first’, ‘opinion’, ‘testosterone’, ‘brain’, ‘get’, ‘testosterone’, ‘shot’, ‘help’, ‘put’, ‘dent’, ‘depression‘, ‘make‘, ‘feel’, ‘well’, ‘still’, ‘leave’, ‘pretty’, ‘severe’, ‘depression‘, ‘admittedly’, ‘hormone’, ‘vitamin’, ‘could’, ‘do’, ‘aggressively’, ‘recently’, ‘do’, ‘put’, ‘brain’, ‘glide’, ‘path’, ‘depression‘, ‘amazing’, ‘think’, ‘fix’, ‘fix’, ‘brain’, ‘still’, ‘aggressively’, ‘pursue’, ‘low’, ‘hear’, ‘cortisol’, ‘kill’, ‘testosterone’]



1985 Article – Food and Psychiatry

Interesting article all the way back from 1985 on correlation between specific foods and psychiatric symptoms. For some reason though diet is still not really discussed with patients by psychiatrists. I assume general diet concerns do get mentioned – such as is the patient eating too much sugar, not enough protein, is malnourished, etc., but in my experience no psychiatrist had discussed with me specific ingredients that could potentially increase anxiety.

I would say that diet was not discussed much with me except some questions such as whether I ate full meals. I did eat full meals, I never had trouble eating, but no one asked whether I experienced any abdominal pain after meals and what my meals contained. I was asked whether I drank alcohol, I did not, but no one asked how many Starbucks drinks I had, and how much sugar each drink contained. I never thought that I was overconsuming sugar, I was not checking how many grams of sugar per day I was eating, which was probably over 100 grams. I have also never heard at that point, during my initial psychiatric visits, that there could be any possible link between a food component and mood. No psychiatrist so far has ever mentioned this to me, nor agreed with me that it was possible. I, on the other hand, am quite certain that cow dairy protein causes intrusive thoughts and anxiety for me and that a high lactose consumption decreases my energy and increases depressive symptoms.

Even though for some reason psychiatrists right away focus on prescribing medication, without any discussion of changes in diet potentially improving symptoms, there has been numerous papers pointing to a link between specific foods and psychiatric issues, also links between diet causing changes in gut bacteria, and in turn affecting mood and anxiety. It was interesting to find this short article from 1985 describing research on certain foods and possible link to mood disorders. The study was performed by the University of Chicago.

https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1985-09-08-8502280775-story.html

“Some of the first solid evidence indicating that certain foods can cause mood disorders in some people has been found in a University of Chicago study that implicates a faulty immune system as the culprit.

”A lot of people said it was impossible to know if food related mood changes were real or if they were all in a person`s mind,” said Dr. John Crayton, associate professor of psychiatry. ”We have found that it may not be all in their minds.”

The findings tend to support the contention of other doctors, such as Dr. Theron Randolph, that depression, anxiety, irritability, inability to concentrate and other mood disorders may be caused by such foods as sugar, milk, wheat, corn, and chocolate, he said.

While other studies have suggested mood changes from food, the U. of C. study is the first to show major changes in the function of the immune system that occur with behavioral changes after certain foods are consumed, said Crayton.

Wheat and milk produced the most marked reactions, while chocolate was less reactive, he added. The immune reactions should not be confused with traditional food allergies that produce rashes or hives, he explained.

Great toxicology YouTube channel… and celiac disease misdiagnosed as paranoid schizophrenia?

A really great guy – a toxicologist with his own YouTube channel telling real life ER stories. Here is a link to one of his episodes. A woman with delusions read on the internet about a specific colon cleanse, which led her to drinking 1 liter of soy sauce in two hours. 1 liter of soy sauce contains 200 grams of salt. What happened then to her brain? Why did she choose to drink the soy sauce in the first place? Was it due to paranoid schizophrenia, or was something else also going on?

A Woman Drank 1 Liter Soy Sauce Colon Cleanse In 2 Hours. This Is What Happened To Her Brain.

It’s not always about some serotonin imbalance… let’s pay more attention to neurology

I get articles recommended by my Anroid phone, I assume based on an algorithm that performs some sort of machine learning model based on my browsing history. I actually like this feature, because I find the recommendations often actually interesting. So thumbs up for machine learning!

Today I came across an article about a woman with recurring severe depression, and in her case for many years no medical tests were performed, and her psychiatrist kept prescribing her different kinds of antidepressants, without considering any other potential causes or treatments. This reminds me of my own experience with autoimmune encephalitis, luckily I did get treated after two years from my first hospitalization in the psychiatric unit, not after more than a decade. In the case of this woman, eventually a brain tumour of a significant size was found, in 2019. She had recurring episodes of severe depression starting from 2002. As I understood, it’s not possible to find out at this point when the tumour actually originated, and whether it was the cause of depression, but it’s clear from the story that after the treatment of the tumour, the woman’s life significantly improved – she went back to her scientific career, finding a job as a scientist in a biotech firm. She got married, resumed activities she used to enjoy, and was weaned off antidepressants. Given these observations, it seems to me that the tumour and her depression were not just a correlation, but there is a causation here.

Unfortunately it seems rare that psychiatrists would order any medical tests even in the case of treatment resistant depression. I had to switch a few family doctors, and in the end went to one whom my mother knows for decades, and she agreed to order an MRI for me, and blood tests for thyroid hormones, infections, and antibodies. My psychiatrist never proposed to do any tests. Only after I received back the results, and some of them were abnormal, specifically the antibody levels, I was able to refer myself to neurology. Seems that we, psychiatric patients, have to often be very proactive in demanding medical testing. For this reason I think it is important to be aware of cases where depression was resistant to standard antidepressant treatments, but later on a specific medical cause was found.

Not ‘just depression.’ She seemed trapped in a downward mental health spiral.

  • Blaine’s first bout of depression occurred in 2002 when she was in her first year of a doctoral program in materials science at the University of California at Santa Barbara
  • She was prescribed Prozac, recovered and returned to California. Six months later she left school for good and found full-time work in a coffee shop
  • In 2005, Blaine began working as a research associate at a polymer film company
  • Her illness seemed to follow a pattern: after a few years the antidepressant inexplicably stopped working; her psychiatrist would prescribe a new drug and she would get better
  • In 2018 Blaine had lost her job of 10 years and she seemed trapped in a downward spiral
  • She left her job as a research scientist in 2018 and began working as a server at a variety of restaurants in Charlottesville
  • By late summer Blaine had developed what she assumed were frequent migraine headache, sometimes her balance was off and she complained that her vision had deteriorated and she needed new glasses, psychiatric medication was not effective
  • On Jan. 2 2019, a hospital psychiatrist doubled the dose of her antidepressant
  • Several days later Blaine suddenly collapsed and began vomiting, at the ER where she was diagnosed with a “vasovagal episode” — fainting that results from certain triggers including stress
  • Her sister and mother insisted doctors take a closer look, Blaine underwent an MRI scan of her brain
  • MRI findings showed a tumor the size of an orange had invaded the right frontal lobe of Blaine’s brain, there was evidence of herniation, a potentially fatal condition that occurs when the brain is squeezed out of position
  • During a 10-hour operation, University of Virginia neurosurgeon Ashok Asthagiri removed a grade 2 astrocytoma, a slow-growing malignancy that he said “could have been there for years.”
  • “especially in the setting of mental illness,” the neurosurgeon cautioned, “it is easy to disregard symptoms that maybe should be evaluated.” Doctors “need to be vigilant. Once [a patient] gets labeled, everything is viewed as a mental health problem.”
  • After recovering from surgery, Blaine underwent radiation and chemotherapy; she finished treatment in December 2019
  • Recently Blaine was hired as a scientist at a biotech firm. She has resumed the activities she previously enjoyed: rowing, cooking and walking her dogsHer psychological health has improved significantly and her new psychiatrist is weaning her off her antidepressant

More articles on this subject:

Why are women with brain tumours being dismissed as attention-seekers?

  • Women with serious medical conditions are more likely than men to have their symptoms attributed to depression and anxiety
  • Historically, women’s health has been viewed with a “bikini approach”, the primary focus being breasts and the reproductive system
  • One study drew data from 35,875 cardiac patients, 41% of them women, across nearly 400 US hospitals. It found that women faced a higher risk of dying in hospital, subsequent heart attacks, heart failure, and stroke. They were less likely to have an ECG within 10 minutes and to receive crucial medications. And women younger than 65 years old are more than twice as likely to die from a heart attack than men of the same age
  • A Bias Against Women in the Treatment of Pain, found that women were less likely to receive aggressive treatment when diagnosed, and were more likely to have their pain characterised as “emotional,” “psychogenic” and therefore “not real”

Woman misdiagnosed with anxiety actually had a brain tumour the size of a tennis ball

  • Laura Skerritt, 22, began suffering migraines, sickness and psychosis and was told her symptoms were caused by anxiety, depression – and even bi-polar disorder
  • She was prescribed anti-depressants but the medication had no effect on her condition which continued to deteriorate
  • By November 2018, the young swimming instructor, from Templecombe, Somerset, was struggling to walk and was having seizures.
  • A scan at Yeovil District Hospital revealed a tennis ball-sized brain tumour

Brain tumor revealed by treatment-resistant depression

  • The 54-year-old woman had been depressed for 6 months, but treatment with the antidepressant fluoxetine and the anti-anxiety medication bromazepam was discontinued after 5 months because these were not found to be effective
  • She had suicidal thoughts, admitted self-accusation due to ineffectiveness in her job, and lost interest in her usual past times
  • A neurological examination was normal. However, a brain CT scan and MRI revealed meningiomatosis with a giant meningioma–the most common primary benign brain tumour–in her left frontal lobe
  • The patient underwent emergency surgery, and made a recovery. The depressive symptoms disappeared within one month
  • Recommendation – brain scan should be performed if the patient presents a late onset of depressive syndrome after 50 years of age, if a diagnosis of treatment-resistant depression is made or if the patient is apathetic

Improvement with lithium chloride supplement

I have extensive experience with psych meds, first prescription being abilify and seroquel in 2015, then mirtazapine, wellbutrin, risperidone, cymbalta, trazodone, and more. None of the meds worked for me. Last trial was of fluoxetine in November, which caused severe insomnia on only 10mg, and panic attacks. In March I also tried Zembrin which is a serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SRI). Zembrin also caused panic attacks for me and increased psychotic symptoms. I decided I don’t want to touch any additional SSRIs, SNRIs, nor SRIs.

I have also tried shrooms microdosing. I found that 1-4 gram occasional trips are better for me as microdosing makes me fatigued. While on shrooms though, a lot of thoughts came to me about reducing my caffeine intake and lithium. Lithium was mentioned to me several years ago by one consulting psychiatrist, but was never prescribed. I asked my current psych about it, but she refused to prescribe it.

While I was on Zembrin in March, by mid-month I started to get more paranoid and psychotic, as I was also in luteal phase of my cycle. A lot of women with mental illness experience PME – premenstrual exacerbation of symptoms. I unfortunately experience that as well. Mid-March I decided to stop Zembrin and any other supplements I was trying – mushroom coffee, rhodiola rosea, St. John’s Wort tea. I also stopped drinking coffee in general as I think it exacerbates my mood swings. I only continued with lithium orotate supplement that I purchased, but I stopped it as well as it seemed that it was causing more frequent urination. As I stopped these supplements and my period stabilized, my mental state somewhat stabilized to a point where I could better observe myself and think about what to do next. I decided that I still wanted to try lithium, but purchased a supplement which was in a different form – liquid which contains lithium chloride, instead of the lithium orotate tablets. I chose lithium chloride because there is more existing research on it than on lithium orotate. I also made homemade CBD oil from the Avidekel strain.

Well it has been over two months since mid-March and I’ve hard a lot more days which were just ‘alright’ instead of being a struggle with intrusive thoughts and depression. I’ve felt more calm and was able to read more throughout these two months, actually finished two books, on my third now. So in general a beneficial experience so far, will see how it goes.