Your brain on depression.

Discussion in 'Mental Health Disorders' started by Dante, Mar 23, 2016.

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  1. Dante

    Dante Well-Known Member

    I had a huge science lecture prepared about the neurological side of depression but whats the point.

    The point is this: one of the things you lose in depression (due to an increase in Monoamine Oxidase A causing a severe drop in the neurotransmitter Dopamine) is your automated "reward" response to good things. When good things happen, you feel good about them, this is obvious and natural, but depressed people dont feel good, they just feel nothing, or worse they feel so bad about feeling nothing that good events actually make them feel worse.

    I graduated university in 2013, 2 years later than I should have due to depression, and began trying to get a job that I was good at and that I would enjoy and paid at least vaguely well. 3 years later, after more job applications than I can possibly remember and more interviews than most people I have ever met had in their lives and nearly a year of unpaid work for experience I have finally got that job, and what I felt: nothing.

    I start tomorrow, and all I feel is sick. Not a moment of happiness, I smiled and thanked them but inside the feeling wasn't there, I haven't even bothered to tell anyone because the news just doesn't matter to me; I have driven myself mad for 3 years to achieve this and now that I did, I don't even care, that "woohoo" moment has been taken away from me because my brain is literally incapable of producing the feeling of emotional pleasure at good news.

    I am on very high dose SSRIs, and they do keep me functioning, but they only help my brain's levels of Serotonin, its Dopamine I need in order to feel good about anything. Seratonin allows me to regulate my own mood again, Dopamine is what I need to feel good about anything, so I may be functioning, but unless I am miserable or stressed I just feel empty.

    3 years of hard graft to achieve, (not counting the 5 years I took to pass a mathematics and computing degree whilst severely depressed) and not a moments pleasure taken in achieving it.

    Here is the ultimate question:

    What is the point in living if your brain is incapable of producing good feelings about anything?

    This isn't anything to do with suicide, its just that after all this pain and effort, I don't feel good, but I also don't feel especially terrible, I just feel stressed and tired, which is an improvement on yesterday (unbearably stressed and tired) but ultimately, if that's how I feel, what was the point? and if that's how things are going to go, what's the point in really doing anything? I gain nothing, so why bother?
  2. Jenumbra

    Jenumbra SF Supporter

    Hi Dante, sorry about what you're dealing with. Did you feel this way before taking medication too? I wonder if the meds are affecting you adversely in either case, adjusting them might be helpful. Do you absolutely have 100% no good feelings at all? Is there anything that gives you a bit of pleasure?

    I generally don't get much sense of satisfaction about things like my own accomplishments either but still enjoy a few things like eating something delicious or playing a fun game. In the past I was motivated to try to improve the world and my personal feelings didn't matter that much, but I left the group I was with, then I just tried stuff out that I was curious about, I guess even though I don't have strong emotions, I was still was interested enough to do things and also to try to improve my mental health and emotions. Recently I've been in a terrible depression and my current motivation is hope that I will find the right medication and improve things. In the thick of it, it feels like things will never get better but that is just a feeling, an unfounded prediction, we don't know what the future might hold except death so I might as well try to make things better and explore until then.

    Regarding dopamine, if you think that might be a key problem maybe you can try to increase or improve function. I tried with supplements when I was off medication but that didn't seem to help me but work for some people. Your post intrigued me so I did a quick websearch and found other ways of increasing dopamine that seem worth trying like eating certain foods, trying new things/sense of novelty, listening to music, etc.

    I hope things get better, good luck.

    Freya likes this.
  3. Dante

    Dante Well-Known Member

    I didnt feel anywhere near this bad when I started taking medication but I was already in a steadily steepening decline when I started, which is why I did, it didnt seem to help but I have found that when I come off them now things get a whole lot worse which makes sense because otherwise I am not sure how I am putting up with my life atm, things recently got a whole lot better but its still no picnic.

    I have got some pleasure, but it is far less than I should be getting, I didnt feel any pleasure about getting the job at first because it was being drowned out by panic and worry, now that that is gone I am mildly pleased as one would be if they found a £5 note on the ground, as for watching a film or playing a game they barely hold my interest long enough to bother, the 2nd time I watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens I was so bored I nearly walked out despite the fact that I think its a masterpiece. I do experience pleasure in the everyday but it is fleeting and often duller than it should be.

    I am in the unenviable position of living with a man who, on a good day, can break someone just by spending time with them, but at the moment he is miserable and I believe depressed and I have a choice: spend time with him and sacrifice my own sanity or avoid him and leave him isolated and alone and depressed which makes me honestly worry for his life sometimes. He refuses to get help or acknowledge that he may be depressed, and says that even if he was his life is horrible enough that he feels entitled to being depressed so he has put me in the position of letting one of us break entirely by spending all my time or none of my time with him or simply balancing his misery between us. Its an impossible situation because it would be my decision to let him crash and burn but he wont do anything to help himself and any suggestion that he is making me miserable enough for him to "do this for me" is like, and this is a direct quote "you coming along to twist the knife", and remember, he broke people before he was miserable, but now, he is so clingy and controlling and negative and miserable that he... well... he is highly toxic to the human psyche.

    Music doesn't help, my mind only has a taste for 2 things at the moment: dramatic music and miserable music, anything else and I am bored by the 2nd bar; novelty is hard to find when I am splitting my time between work, him and then retreating to my bedroom to try to recharge enough to face the world again, and as for foods... I have been comfort eating so much lately that I need to go on a diet now.

    Just thinking about my situation makes me want to kill myself, my dad has forced me into the position of potentially choosing between his life and mine, because even if one of us doesnt kill ourselves we still end up destroyed.
  4. JmpMster

    JmpMster Have a question? Message Me Staff Member Forum Owner ADMIN

    Your post is interesting and brings up some good points, however oine thing to be considered is the way one receives or "perceives" information when you are suffering from depression. Basically, if it is possible to see a negative, you will see it. I have read literally thousands of articles on depression and depression treatment that discuss the interactions of all the different proteins and chemical changes that happen in a depressed mind. I can easily link you a dozen well authenticated articles with completely contradictory information on dopamine- from the fact that excessive high levels of dopamine mean that the spikes used to feel good are the cause , to the theory you propose that excessive low levels mayke it impossible. To be honest, since it is the :change" in dopamine level that causes the feeling I personally am more partial to the theory that it is long term high levels , often associated with excessive recreational drug use, that are more often the issue- but both are theories. More importantly, in both cases it is in fact possible to change the levels by doing absolutely nothing at all, as well as with med therapy, so neither are in any way a "forever" condition.

    You can research chemical and neuro chemical depression for 5 years and the fact is there is no conclusive evidence of what is and is not "depression" , not what treatment works for any individual. If there were it would ba a relatively simple test to diagnose , and the treatment would be straightforward as well. It is known that the argument of "meds don't work for me because it is life circumstance " is crap because the long term bad life circumstance results in chemical changes, it is known the fake tit till you make does it work for many because it does also change the chemical levels, the serotonin is the most commonly used approach, but MAOI's are getting a lot of interest now as well as a way to treat, and if the SSRI's are not working for you there are options. So far as the theory it is just chronically low dopamine, they do in fact have ways to adjust dopamine levels- though it is typically used to treat Parkinson diseases, not depression.

    I guess what i am saying and what anybody that does any in depth research will admit is that there is no set cause for depression, it is very unlikely they did a dopamine levels test on you to determine that is even your particular issue since it is not done in regular hospitals, just research labs, so there is no way for you to know that is in fact "your" chemical signature for depression (low dopamine levels) as opposed to any of half a dozen common signatures, so it is your depression that is making you make long term assessments of quality of life based more on hopelessness which is a symptom of depression rather than any actual facts. I would seriously consider discussing your meds with your Dr however if they are not working and is things are in fact worse, and see if a change in approach is appropriate in your particular case.
  5. Dante

    Dante Well-Known Member

    Im just trying to piece together all the information I can so I can get a working model of what's going on and then work to reverse it, personally I have my own theories on depression and it's causes but they aren't backed up by much of anything except that it seems true for everyone I know who has had it, which is little better than an old-wives tale so I usually don't bring it up.
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