Skip to main content

mental health mondays :: when drugs go retro

the new hotness?
one of the most common complaints about antidepressants is that they take so long to work. adjusting the taps in the bubble bath of your brain is something that takes several weeks- usually around four, but up to eight is not uncommon- during which time you might well be left feeling just as horrible as you were before, but with the added bonus of side effects: lethargy, somnolence and insomnia, nervousness, sweating, farting, nausea... what a time to be alive. in cases where the danger is acute to the patient or to others [those around the patient], doctors generally deal with this by sedating the sufferer within an inch of their life, so that they're much too calm to think about hurting anyone and so that reaching for the razor blade to slice your wrists is just way more effort than you're willing to put into anything.

our friends at science, however, appear to have found something that might address this. that's right, science has discovered a drug- something so new that they're not even willing to give it a name- that appears to fight depression in rats within twenty-four hours. my first reaction upon hearing that was that it was great news, even more so since it apparently achieves this miracle without creating a lot of side effects that are going to make you want to stop taking the drug, which is the problem with a lot of psychiatric medications to begin with. [that's not quite true. my first reaction was to feel sorry for all the depressed rats and to think about what a shitty, shitty job it must be to have to make them depressed in the first place. i'm picturing some forlorn phd student reading shopenhauer and holding the little wheel so that it will not budge, no matter how hard the rats try to run on it.]

but before we start to get all excited, i have a few questions. actually, i have a lot of questions, and none of them are getting answered because the drug is in such an early phase that the manufacturer isn't even telling us anything meaningful about it, since that would allow their competitors to develop something similar. for the moment, all they're willing to share is that, unlike "traditional" medications for depression that work by adjusting levels of serotonin in the brain, this drug works on a completely different neurotransmitter: gaba.

that sounds awesome, but what the manufacturer [and everyone who published what looks like the company's press release with minimal adjustments] doesn't mention is that there are literally dozens of drugs that manipulate gaba already on the market and that many of them are older than the serotonin reuptake inhibitors that this new drug would supposedly be replacing. barbiturates work on gaba. so do benzodiazepines. for that matter, substances that affect gaba are found in certain species of mushrooms [ibotenic acid], common plants [skullcap] and seawater [bromide]. so saying that the drug works by targeting gaba rather than serotonin says absolutely nothing about what makes it new, different, or more effective.

because gaba-modulators are so widespread in pharmacology and the world, it's difficult to generalise about them. if we look at the one category that's generally used for mental health applications- the benzos- then it's worth noting that they're both fast and effective already and while they do have some side effects, the real problem is that they're addictive and can be harsh on your liver. those are really the important things that need to be tested before this gets anywhere near your mouth and stomach.

so yes, this looks like it could be promising. but it also looks like it could be the start of an insidious marketing campaign to get people excited about the properties of a new drug that might just be a new twist on something we've had access to for a long time...


as long as you're here, why not read more?

i'm definitely someone altogether different

about a hundred years ago, i remember having a partner who told me that, rather than writing the sort of ambiance-oriented crap [he didn't say crap, i'm saying it] that i was naturally driven to write, i should just compose something like the harry potter books. this wasn't out of any sense of challenging me to do new things but because of the desperate hope that my love of writing could be parlayed into something profitable.

my reaction at the time was "i just can't". and that was honestly how i felt because i didn't believe that that kind of story was in me. for the record, i still don't think that anything like the potter-hogwarts universe is in me. i'm not a fan of fantasy literature generally speaking and i feel like there's a richer experience to be examined in looking at our experience as regular humans being part of the rational, limited, everyday world and at the same time being able to feel connected to something that, for lack of a…

making faces :: a lip for all seasons [winter edition]

it seems oddly canadian to have two posts in a row about winter/ cold/ snow, but they're obviously unrelated. after all, for most people winter is a season, but in colour analysis terms, winter is part of what you are, an effect of the different wavelengths that comprise the physical part of the thing known as "you". this might be getting a little heady for a post about lipstick. moving on...

if you've perused the other entries in this series without finding something that really spoke to you [figuratively- lipsticks shouldn't actually speak to you- get help], you may belong in one of the winter seasons. winter, like summer, is cool in tone; like spring, it is saturated; like autumn, it is dark. that combination of elements creates a colour palette [or three] that reads as very "strong" to most. and on people who aren't part of the winter group, such a palette would look severe. the point of finding a palette that reads "correctly" on you…

making faces :: best [bright winter] face forward

a few years ago, i wrote quite a bit about sci/art colour analysis. i haven't followed up on it more recently because there's only so much a girl can say about three-dimensional colour and what the "hallmarks" of each loose category are without getting super repetitive. i am planning on updating a few of the posts that i made, particularly the "lip for all seasons" posts [springsummer, autumn, winter], as those are out of date and not so useful. the posts on colour analysis continue to be very popular despite being years old, so i figure it's worth following up.

during my journey of colour self-discovery, i determined that i was probably a bright winter, which means i look best in colours that are highly saturated first of all [and sharply contrasting second of all], and which lean cooler and darker. not for me the soft smoky eyes and muted lips, nor the bubbly, light-as-air pastels. as i proved to myself wearing different looks, trying to embrace th…