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Serotonin and Depression

F. Frank LeFever flefever at ix.netcom.com
Wed Oct 14 23:06:35 EST 1998

In <3624571D.A1422B50 at cc.helsinki.fi> Dag Stenberg
<stenberg at cc.helsinki.fi> writes: 
>kkollins at pop3.concentric.net wrote:
>> dag.stenberg at helsinki.nospam.fi wrote:
>> > kkollins at pop3.concentric.net wrote:

>I agree that the suggestion "snap out of it" is ineffective and shows
>of understanding of the problem. From my point of view, in major
>brain function is changed (as a result of dysbalance between the
>substrate and the load from the environment) in such a way that the
>cannot easily handle the situation. How to shake this dysbalance back
>balance? Traditional therapies have included electro- or insulin
shocks (how

(1) I'll just add: neurochemistry can influence experience, but it is
also true that experience can influence neurochemistry.

(2) I trust "how horrible" refers to insulin coma; truly dangerous, I
hope no longer used (certainly it is not current standard treatment). 
Electroshock these days is well-managed and safe, painless, and
although there may be some lingering controversy seems to re-set
neurochemistry to proper balance without obvious detrimental effects
(beyond immediate post-shock coonfuusion)).

 which apparently often work. Sleep deprivation, perhaps by
>activating several homeostatic aminergic mechanisms, may also shake
>system and (temporarily) restore balance. But more often than not, the
>healing of a depressive episode seems to have no clear reason. Life
>seems to come back to the patient and he starts to go about his

You might be interested in Robert Post's thinking on this: episodes may
be cyclic, with decreasing length of period across the lifetime.  He
suggests similarities to kindling phenomena.

>> 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

I really want to reinforce Dag's point here: "clinical depression" is
NOT just "feeling sad"!  If you do not have first-hand experience of
appropriately-diagnosed major depression, or a lot of clinical
experience dealing with depressed patients, you are really out of your
depth--at best, like a congenitally blind person discussing the
beauties of a sunset after hearing a sighted person commenting on it;
at worst, like after hearing another congenitally blind person's ideas
on the subject.

 But, through the diligent efforts of the experimentalists,
>> the Neuroscience stacks have been overfolowing with more than enough
>> 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 agree that there is a wealth of uncorrelated, incompletely analysed
data already published which can be combined in ways that those who
produced it may not see or have the time to do--a treasure trove for
synthesizers.  However, much of this information changes from week to
week, so one's efforts at synthesis need continual updating and

>I still will not believe that crosscorrelation of any amount of
>(without a clear experimental plan) collected data will lead to very
>So often have I experienced that even after a lot of data have
>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
>of correlational analysis of huge data banks. 
>Dag Stenberg

Crosscorrelation (and the psychologist's favorite, factor analysis) do
not lead to secure conclusions even with sound data (never mind the
GIGO danger, garbage in garbage out), but probably Dag will agree that
SOME kind of observed correlation is the usual basis for the next step,
hypothesis and that well-planned experiment to test the hypothesis.

Frank LeFever (kibitzing)

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