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Interpretations of biochemically caused depression


Hi all,

just wanted to share this experience with you. I'm quite sure right now that whenever someone suffers from depression to which biochemics are causative like in CFS and other illnesses where the illness messes up brain chemistry, the brain tries to interprete the depression and find an explanation for it.

What I want to say is that when someone for example takes some medication that leads to a depressed mood or anxiety the brain needs to interprete this situation. The brain cannot just be depressed. It has to find a logical reason why it is depressed and this logical reason will be made up if necessary. Out of nowhere your brain will think that it is the unrequited love, the fact that you could be more successful, that life is so bad with CFS. This can be true BUT: Even your love is shared, even you achieve sth. very successful, even your friends love you so much, your brain will get a little boost BUT it will not recover from biochemically caused depression. It will look for a new reason why you are depressed and it will do this for as long as the biochemics in your brain are out of control.

I've been through a lot of ups and downs during the last months, all caused by effects of medication and the course of CFS. What I can tell you (btw I dont take any SSRI or drugs that are supposed to boost neurotransmitters) is that since these phases change on a daily basis, sometimes things can look normal or even great, while one day later, with absolutely NO CHANGE in circumstances or situation, the same things just look horrible and I keep desperately thinking about what causes me to feel so bad and what I can do against it. I know that it is caused biochemically but this is not enough for a brain. It helps but it seems that a brain has to find an emotional cause and your thoughts get focused on it so much that even if you try very hard it is very difficult to evade them. Like gravitation, a physical law, your brain gets drawn into that negative thinking whenever it's biochemics are screwed.

Biochemics in my eyes make us who we are. You could take 3 equal people in equal situations with equal lives and equal biochemics. You put one of them on a drug that makes him happy for a short time before he crashes (like alcohol, cocaine etc., some people even crash directly after taking them but not the majority). The next one gets nothing and the third gets a drug that depletes neurotransmitters (for example reserpine).

What will happen now is that even everything is equal for our three patients, the first will interprete his situation as great or fantastic (before he crahses). The second one will see things as they are right while the third one sees his situation as horrible and will look for causes in his environment why he is depressed. Lets suppose the third one has CFS or some other illness that messes up brain chemistry forever. What I'm scared about now is that his personal pursuit of happiness (and this is what we are all here for, this is the aim of our lives, to be as happy as we can, since we all die someday) will be comdemned to fail although he tries much harder than the other ones. He maybe finds some help in religion, family or good friends BUT this will never be enough to reach the same amount of happiness as other persons with worse circumstance but much better brain chemistry.

There is this old but ground braking experiment by Singer /Schachter:

What they did was they administered adrenaline to a group of patients. They told 50% of them what they just got injected with. The other 50% were told nothing. Now the patients were confronted with staff who either was very friendly or very unfriendly. The 50% who were told nothing now seemed to mirror the staff they were confronted with. So they either got friendly or angry too, as the type of staff was. The other group who was told about the adrenaline did not change their behaviour upon confrontation.

So the two factory theory of emotion goes like this: You have physical arousal as one part and cognition (or interpretation) as the other part of emotion. Whenever you fall in love with someone or you get very emotional your body starts to incease its heart rate for example or increases blood flow. This part can be simulated by giving drugs. The other part is when your brain interpretes the situation. Your brain asks why it is aroused e.g. you are in love. Your brain will not say that you are in love but it feels like you are in love and actually you are in love with someone.
In case of the group who was told about the adrenaline they new that adrenaline was the cause while the other group did know nothing. The other group had to interprete the emotion. They are physcial aroused but are they angry, depressed, happy or friendly? They didnt know, so their brain used the confrontation with friendly/angry peoplel to interprete the emotion as friendly or angry.
This study aroused lots of controversy and could not be confirmed very well.

The reason for this in my eyes is the adrenaline. Adrenaline doesn't have very strong emotional effects and the outcome is always unclear. SUPPOSE we give those patients reserpine (a drug that depletes serotonin, dopamine etc.). I'm 100% sure that those who werent told about it and did get no input from outside will start thinking about why they are unhappy and they will find something in their life which they think is the cause (cognition) although it isn't from a neutral position.

Unfortunately psychology is still under a transformation. Away from Freud (and all his bs that couldnt be confirmed in any way). BTW, the strongest argument that Freuds theory is of no value is that it is not able to predict behaviour. It can only "explain" things. So whenever I tell you that the sun is a giant burning wagon that gets dragged across the sky every day this is a explanation too, but of very little value of course. Since brain chemistry is much more complex it is harder to debunk wrong theories.

If you deplete someones neurotranmitters, he will get depressed no matter who he is. He could be the happiest person in the world, someone with success, great family, friends, love. Biochemics beat circumstances although circumstances have an infleunce on all of us. The healthier we are the more you can focus on circumstances since they are causative for changes in biochemistry. If someone is not healthy you would need to focus on his health because even with best circumstances he won't be happy. Humans and brains are slaves to their biochemistry in the long run.


Senior Member
Cheers Diesel,

I completely agree, I think many CFS'rs have been directed to beleive they are depressed, allowed temselves to be treated for depression only to discover that the anti-depressants supress the only thng that was keeping them going.

Then coming of anti-depressants often leading to feelings of depression, a depression that wasn't there before.

It would be loverly if we all fitted the kind off CFS sub-type that anti-depressants, CBT and GET could take care of.

In the mean time I hope that real medical doctors and researchers, start to assert some form of serious opposition to the psych lobby, which wud have us all brainwashed, on prozac and treadmils.


Senior Member
East Midlands
Once upon a time I had no concept of depression in the way most people seem to experience it.

Then afer a while on a methylation protocol I developed really deep, dark, crushing depression and so, so quickly. I knew it was induced by the protocol but knowing that didn't help. It was a useful education in to what others experience. What made it easy to handle was discovering that higher dose methyl B12 lifted it almost instantly. Of course it happened again but I had a quick fix.

There's called 'The edge Effect' by Eric Braverman that looks at neurotransmitter balance and mood. there's a questionaire section to identify which transmitters might be too high or low and supplement suggestions.

Before reading this book I'd tried 5HTP a couple of times and my symptoms with it tallied perfectly with his description of high seratonin dominance. Another education, and gratitutude that i was not born highly serotonin dominant. Trying to 5HTP induced control wild impulses was very, very hard work.
Hi Diesel,

Good points!

I tend to view the human brain as a meaning factory. It's job is to make sense of the world - discover causal links that allow us to navigate through the problems we are confronted with. It's busy doing this all the time even when it doesn't necessarily make sense to do so.

For example: dreams could well be just random patterns of neural activity but the brain turns them into some sort of narrative. Superstitions arise because the brain tries to make associations or detect patterns where there is actually only coincidence. If you look long enough at clouds, you start seeing faces and animals.

Depression (or other unwanted emotions or mental states) don't always arise from a logical place, like you say. But the brain wants to understand where they came from so it creates a narrative.

I think this can also be the case with other symptoms too though. If you feel awful one day, your brain is going to try to figure out why. Sometimes it might figure out something useful but other times it might just be making a connection where there isn't really one ("I feel awful because I ate bananas yesterday").

I think it can be really helpful sometimes to just accept an emotion or feeling without needing to know why it is there.