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Serotonin and Depression

Dag Stenberg stenberg at cc.helsinki.fi
Wed Oct 14 02:47:41 EST 1998

kkollins at pop3.concentric.net wrote:
> dag.stenberg at helsinki.nospam.fi wrote:
> > kkollins at pop3.concentric.net wrote:
> What kills people isn't "depression". What kills them is the prevailing ignorance with
> respect to the necessity and worthiness of the dynamics of "depression". Because such
> ignorance prevails still, an artificial pall is imposed upon folks who are doing
> nothing more than becoming "quited" while their nervous systems are working to extract
> them from this or that behavioral "mistake". This results in folks' spiralling inward
> because this or that associate has told them something like "snap out of it", which,
> in the prevailing ignorance of the biological necessity of "depression", translates in
> the mind of the "depressed" person, to something like, "Woah! You're messed up." 

I agree that the suggestion "snap out of it" is ineffective and shows lack
of understanding of the problem. From my point of view, in major depression
brain function is changed (as a result of dysbalance between the biological
substrate and the load from the environment) in such a way that the patient
cannot easily handle the situation. How to shake this dysbalance back into
balance? Traditional therapies have included electro- or insulin shocks (how
horrible...) which apparently often work. Sleep deprivation, perhaps by
activating several homeostatic aminergic mechanisms, may also shake the
system and (temporarily) restore balance. But more often than not, the
healing of a depressive episode seems to have no clear reason. Life just
seems to come back to the patient and he starts to go about his business
again. Is anything restored by a period of rest? Clearly, continuing
pressure from work, economy and people around keep up the depression, while
a network of understanding persons can at least postpone suicide until that
something snaps back to order in the brain. 
  I do not claim to understand depression, although I have experienced it
some times earlier in my life. But I still to figure out ideas what it could
be about in the biological sense.

> > > We =need= "depression", and the modern trend that takes the stand, that it
> > > should be engineered-out of the nervous system, ...
> > For anybody who has never suffered from major depression or seen that in
> > their immediate surrounding, it is easy to think like that.
> Is there anyone, having lost life-long Love, who can deny experiencing such? It's a
> fact of Life. 

Are you sure you are not confusing normal sorrow with major depression here?

> > This [letting many experimental parameters vary at the same time] can point to 
> > correlational evidence, and to important factors, but it can not elucidate what part 
> > a single factor has in the regulation of the whole.
> "Single experiments", no. But, through the diligent efforts of the experimentalists,
> the Neuroscience stacks have been overfolowing with more than enough proven
> information for decades to allow everything to be cross-correlated at a
> verifiably-lasting foundation level. It's from that understanding that I write. ken
> collins

I still will not believe that crosscorrelation of any amount of sloppily
(without a clear experimental plan) collected data will lead to very much.
So often have I experienced that even after a lot of data have accumulated
about a subject, the only way to get further is to conduct a simple,
well-planned, focussed experiment, which alone will tell us more than years
of correlational analysis of huge data banks. 

Dag Stenberg

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