Why do antidepressant work? Incredibly fascinating lecture in You Tube


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difficult child sent me this. It's something his psychiatrist gave him the link to persuade him to try SSRIs. It's 50 minutes long and guy giving the lecture does have an accent (and sounds like maybe some kind of mild speech impairment) but it is certainly worth watching. Here is a link:


His hypothesis is, that antidepressants cause brains to have back juvenile type of plasticity and because of that, things can be re-learned. Antidepressants themselves are not enough but they have to be combined with therapy, training or rehab to take an advantage of that opportunity new-found plasticity gives the brains. And because of this effect antidepressants are not only effective with depression and such but also in other brain disorders where plasticity would be needed for recover.

Some of the studies they have made are with fear responses with rats and there is also things about 9/11 survivors with PTSD.

This is very relevant with my difficult child but I think this could be much of an interest also to all you.
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After watching this video i have read little more about this and still find it fascinating. I even found one medical article with the idea that what SSRIs do, is to make brains more sensitive to environment and if that environment is supportive, that sensitivity helps brains to recover. But if an individual is having SSRIs while continuing being in adverse environment, that could cause worse damage than if they were not in SSRIs. Apparently same way than the child (who naturally have high neural plasticity) is damaged more profoundly in adverse environment than adults.


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Nothing quite as good in text as that lecture, but here is one magazine article from the topic: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=prozac-extinguishes-anxiety-rejuvenating-brain
here is one blog: http://scienceblogs.com/cortex/2010/04/22/prozac-and-plasticity/
And here are to research paper abstracts (you need an access to Medline to read whole papers, but abstracts do give an idea): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22194582

In the original Italian research they were able to heal adult rat's 'lazy eye' with favouring the bad eye as well as they were usually able to do with baby rats and now they have a project to find out if same thing could be done with people. As you probably know 'lazy eyes' tend to be treatable by covering the good eye and favouring bad eye on small kids but if for some reason that is not done when kid is young, damage is permanent. It would be really cool if something as simple as SSRI and similar training as with kids could also help those whose 'lazy eyes' have not been treated properly as kids.

Other thing I found very interesting in the lecture was, that with mice the similar effect Prozac (that was a SSRI they used) gave with neural plasticity could be also achieved by taking mice from boring cages and putting them to stimulating cages. However mice that has always lived in stimulating cage didn't have that plasticity advantage because it wasn't new to them. And that could also explain why exercise seems to be a good 'medicine' to depression in humans. Starting SSRIs or exercising or more stimulating way of life could give us a window of recovery by giving us a possibility to revamp our neural connections same way child's neural connections are developed.

That of course made me think that cotton filled box in the attic... ;) Maybe it wouldn't had been such a bad idea after all. Would had been easy to 'move difficult child to more stimulating cage' now. :rofl: