Serotonin and Depression

kkollins at kkollins at
Wed Oct 14 20:37:32 EST 1998

patanie at wrote:

> Dear Ken,
> > The community of researchers has missed one thing: what's referred to as
> > "depression" is not, per se, "pathological".
> Yes.Dr Henri Laborit has made excellent research on the origins of depression.
> But you have to read it in French!

Sadly, although it was my primary language when I was very young (my grandparents
immigrated to the U. S. from Quebec Province, Canada), I "lost" the language due to
the experience of some, I'm told, strong "peer pressure". I studied it during my
Childhood, and I sense that it's "still there", a bit, but it's a sadness. I
consider myself illiterate in all but English... please understand, I've had my
hands pretty full, and forgive me.

Can you provide a brief synopsis of what Dr. Laborit's position is?

> > We =need= "depression", and the modern trend that takes the stand, that it
> > should be engineered-out of the nervous system, has more to do with the
> > profit-seeking of the pharmaceutical companies than science or the welfare of
> > humanity.
> It has,also,something to do with the puritan foundation of the
> United-States,where pleasure has been tracked as something diabolical.

Sadly, I agree, things are out of synch with respect to what John Milton wrote of in
his poems L'Legra and Il Penerero... both Joy and Sorrow are Friends... each bearing
their distinct Gifts. In present-day U. S. there's a pressurized polarization toward
"feeling good" that's just as detrimental to our overall well-being as would be
polarization toward "feeling badly".

> This
> led to the imipramine dogma that a good anti-depressant should elevate mood
> without inducing "euphoria"...a nearly impossible paradox.
> I suggest,on the contrary,that true anti-depressants should stimulate
> pleasure,thus "euphoria",like the fast acting gamma-hydroxybutyrate.

I'm in favor of a route solidly couched in understanding of the nature of the
information-processing problems that confront our nervous systems, and of how our
nervous systems process information in order to solve these problems. Forebearance
grows hand-in-hand with the growth of such understanding. And this isn't all "just
talk". The understanding literally grows within the flesh of our nervous systems.
It's Physically-Real stuff that's, subsequently, invoked during the processing of
information, governing things from within rather than reacting to "remedies" applied
from without. Of course my position correlates with my own experience, and everyone
must Choose for themselves, but my view on externally-applied chemical substances is
that they should be reserved for instances of verified organic deficiencies.
Otherwise, they strip our nervous systems of stuff that serves us well.

>  But in the nervous system, everything is redundantly-engineered, and
> > the "components" are organized in relatively-failsafe ways.
> This remark is a crucial remark.
>  This doesn't mean
> > that any particular neurotransmitter is "unimportant". It just means that
> there
> > are [reiterating what someone else has already said in this thread] many
> factors
> > which determine the contribution of any neurotransmitter.
> Absolutely.
>  And the only way to
> > get a handle on such is to work with the system as a whole. For instance,
> what's
> > referred to as "depression" can be instigated in as many ways as there are
> > behaviors. Such is the plight of the children of ghetto environments, which
> has
> > ramifications through generations of offspring. It's a serotonin deficit
> that's
> > transmitted genetically, but, rather, the continually-dibilitating quality of
> > the environment which always answers any behavior with, "No", behaviors being
> > acquired in the face of such, and handed down inter-generationally via
> learning.
> > Even though the contribution of serotonin is always in-there, the simple
> > modification of serotonin concentration cannot do anything that can "optimize"
> > the functioning of the system as a whole.
> Obviously.
> Serotonin is a mood modulator which,I think,is naturally used to blunt
> emotions in case of excessive dysphoria. However,if the dysphoria persists
> then,probably,this elicits different functional changes leading to
> depression.

It's certain that it does. Where we "disagree" is that I'd like to see folks gaining
understanding of how our nervous systems process information =before= they come up
against "randomness". Having the understanding (which also exists as enduring
modifications to the neural architecture) "up-front" is the best "tool" with which
to handle Life's inevitable "ups" and "downs". In this way, there's no
"short-circuiting" of highly-functional information-processing mechanisms.

> I have to remind,here,that Tianeptine,a specific serotonin re-uptake
> accelerator(SSRA)seems to work,statistically,even better than the SSRIs in
> depression.
> > This is not to say that folks are not trying to do "just" that. In the US,
> it's
> > become the "fashion" to "lift one's self up" through recourse to
> > "antidepressant" drugs.
> In the US,daily life is very abnormal,as the US culture demands too much
> productivity. Evolution has NOT selected the homo sapiens species as a
> species adapted to work 8 hours a day...for years and years,non-stop.

Yeah, work, work, work is pretty boring stuff. But my experience is that the
important factor is not "how much", but "what"... while I was putting the theory
together, for instance, I routinely worked 30-50+ hours taking breaks only to eat,
drink, eliminate... and there was Joy in there. When I'd get run-down, I'd give it a
break... go for walks. Sit on the steps of the Civic Center and watch folks go about
their business... work is "not so hard" when it's what's in one's Heart. Do I make

> Humans are not ants and anthropologists have well demonstrated that,before the
> Neolithic,our species did not "work" more than 2 to 3 hours a day.

I'll tell you, after all's said and done, I'm feeling pretty-old these days, so I
have to say I see the light you shine on my position, stated above. I'm taking a
long weekend (my 3rd real "vacation" in 29 years) to attend a performance of a
singer whose voice just courses through me in the nicest way... did the same a few
weeks back... it was so-overflowing with the experience of Beauty that I caught
myself mourning the personal costs of the endeavor. I'll do some more "catching-up"
this weekend :-).

So I see that I can't really argue with you. Your position on this point is
more-worthy than is mine. In "defense", though, sometimes a thing's just got to be
accomplished, and it's my hope that, in the end, my work will open things up to what
you say... interpersonal "sanity". Forgive me, I'm long-winded.

Cheers, Claude, ken

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