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Depression Caused By Parasite, Not Brain Chemistry?


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#1 participant

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Posted 20 August 2012 - 11:28 PM

I found this story about a recent study. Basically they think that depression might be caused by a parasite and inflammation in the brain, rather than brain chemistry. There is a correlation between suicidal attempts and Toxoplasmosis infection, there is also a correlation between Bi-Polar and toxoplasmosis infection.

http://www.doctortip...l-attempts.html

Essentially the parasite affects behaviour and mood in some people and that Serotonin deficiency is simply a symptom of inflammation in parts of the brain affected by this parasite rather than the cause of the depression. It also can affect dopamine production which might account for the Bi-Polar.

It makes sense to me. It's like how HPV (the virus that causes genital warts) causes ovarian cancer so a vaccine like Gardasil can prevent cancer.

It would also explain cycles of depression and why people become depressed when their immune system is low (like women post-pregnancy or people after surgery).

It also might explain why different meds work or don't work for certain people. I have found that they have never worked for me.

It might also explain why ECT has a positive (if short lived) affect on people, maybe shocking the brain interferes with the parasite in some way causing relief for a certain period.

All of this is still early research... but it makes sense and I hope something comes from it.
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#2 Grin

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 06:21 AM

Interesting... I'm wondering though, 1. how can you find you have toxoplasmosis in your brain? and 2. how would they explain the genetic factor?
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#3 Artemisia

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 07:07 AM

Because of how much I've been hanging out around cats my entire life, I probably have T. gondii. My own depression is pretty mild, though, in the grand scheme of things.

It'll be interesting to see where this research goes. I don't know how one would go about killing Toxoplasma inside the brain.

Grin, the argument could be made that the genetic predisposition could partly have to do with your predisposition for getting infected or fighting it off. Again, it'll be interesting to see where this research goes.


Edit: Of course Toxoplasma has also been implicated in schizophrenia--but the vast majority of the infected don't develop schizophrenia.

Edited by Artemisia, 21 August 2012 - 07:08 AM.

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#4 Velthir

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 07:27 AM

This has been posted a few times on the site, Jerod actually tried out treating toxoplasmosis in himself: http://www.crazymeds...nal-evaluation/
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#5 notfred

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 07:46 AM

I think all of us are carriers of toxo. In general I do not go for the one unifying cause for any kind of mental illness.

Edited by notfred, 22 August 2012 - 03:48 PM.

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#6 participant

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 12:33 AM

It's something to look into and it makes a lot of sense to me.

Around 20% of people are infected with the parasite (depending on where you live).
Around 20% of people experience a major depressive episode at least once in their life, and
Around 20-30% of have no response to anti-depressants.

This doesn't prove anything, but it sure is one hell of a coincidence. Especially since the parasite has already been linked to Post-natal depression, schizophrenia and bi-polar.

To answer some questions:

1. It can be treated with any of the medications usually used to treat Malaria and similar parasites that affect the brain.

2. There may not be a genetic cause, but rather a genetic predisposition. It is entirely possible that the family cat infects parents and children alike, or potentially one parent and one or more children. It is also common for people who grew up with cats as kids to own them as adults... which could then pass the parasite onto their children. So what seems like a genetic factor might actually be an external environmental factor.

I really hope this research turns up some concrete results.
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#7 Grin

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 12:37 PM

But, how do you know you have it? Antimalarics tend to have nasty side effects, so it's not like someone would take them just in case.

Also, wouldn't it show on your blood? A year ago I had a regular check-up and the bloodwork showed severe eosinophilia, which, as my gp explained, usually means parasites. Sure enough, a box of pills later, my eosinophil count was back to normal.
So, wouldn't a brain parasite trigger a similar reaction in the body?
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#8 Velthir

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 01:06 PM

I seem to recall reading something from Jerod when he was talking about it/considering trialling it that tests for it aren't standard bloodwork. Can sometimes be detected with PCR, otherwise brain biopsy so people tend to just treat it if it's seriously suspected.
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#9 Sasha

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 04:45 PM

I don't think anyone associated with that study wad claiming the infection was responsible for ALL depression. Just some, probably a relatively small proportion.

And way too many studies have found strong correlations between depression and specific genetic variations for it to be anything like reasonable to discount genetics as a causal factor.
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#10 Zoidberg

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 09:11 AM

Suddenly, this board's use of the term "Brain Cooties" takes on a new meaning! :smiley:
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#11 paellamagi

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 05:30 AM

I suddenly feel this crawling sensation in my ears. It seems a little flimsy to me though. It's like saying a third of the population wears hats, and that the suicide rates are higher amongst hat wearers. My skeptic is showing.
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#12 notfred

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 08:40 AM

I don't think anyone associated with that study wad claiming the infection was responsible for ALL depression.


Not what I am reading from the article:

Depression is more likely to be caused by inflammation in the brain, from an infection or parasite rather than a serotonin reduction. According to professor Brundin, when parts of the brain are inflamed, its chemistry changes, which can easily cause depression and even suicide thoughts.


Read more: http://www.doctortip...l#ixzz25KMtIwZe



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I am in full remission (296.36) from Depression. ADD, insomnia, Epilepsy, and the Pseudoparkinsonian tremor are well controlled.

 

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#13 Grin

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 04:50 AM

Of course, if ADs don't work well for you, it makes sense to try other options.

Good luck!
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#14 Blue Heron

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 07:02 AM

Those "other options" include a variety of other meds.
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"Note also how we don’t worry about taking medicine for pain the way we often do about taking 'happiness' pills like antidepressants. We worry that by artificially changing our mood we risk not being 'us.' But no one feels inauthentic because he took ibuprofen to relieve his back pain."

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"What's your true self and what's your fake self. Yeah, and where are you on that scale? And how's it working for you? And sometimes you got to go with the fake one, and sometimes faking it 'til [you] make it is the best path, ... I mean sometimes for ... anybody I've known who's struggling ... you got to put your feet on the ground every day and say, you know, don't embrace the struggle, you're going to sink like a rock."

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#15 participant

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 01:48 AM

Those "other options" include a variety of other meds.


Psychiatrists are nothing more than the retail arm of pharmaceutical companies.
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#16 Velthir

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 05:17 AM


Those "other options" include a variety of other meds.


Psychiatrists are nothing more than the retail arm of pharmaceutical companies.


Apart from the fact that a number of the 'other options' are generic out of patent drugs. Lithium and lamotrigine (generic Lamictal) both being good options for people with treatment resistant depression. Ditto for instant release quetiapine (Seroquel), risperidone (Risperdal), along with the MAOIs and tricyclics if you haven't tried them. All the SSRIs apart from Viibryd(SP?) are generic now, ditto for Effexor and Wellbutrin, so those being prescribed isn't down to big pharma marketing.
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#17 Blue Heron

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 06:09 AM


Those "other options" include a variety of other meds.


Psychiatrists are nothing more than the retail arm of pharmaceutical companies.


This is a pro-med site. Sure, some pdocs are nothing but glorified pill-pushers, but most people here benefit from their expertise.
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"Note also how we don’t worry about taking medicine for pain the way we often do about taking 'happiness' pills like antidepressants. We worry that by artificially changing our mood we risk not being 'us.' But no one feels inauthentic because he took ibuprofen to relieve his back pain."

--"Happiness and Its Discontents," essay in the New York Times by Daniel M. Haybron, the author of the book, Happiness: A Very Short Introduction.

 

"What's your true self and what's your fake self. Yeah, and where are you on that scale? And how's it working for you? And sometimes you got to go with the fake one, and sometimes faking it 'til [you] make it is the best path, ... I mean sometimes for ... anybody I've known who's struggling ... you got to put your feet on the ground every day and say, you know, don't embrace the struggle, you're going to sink like a rock."

-- David O. Russell, the director of Silver Linings Playbook, in an interview with Terry Gross

(I took out most of the "you knows.")

 

 


#18 Grin

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 03:22 PM

Psychiatrists are nothing more than the retail arm of pharmaceutical companies.


This may be true (even if quite overgeneralized) but, as someone who's tried a lot of things before finally giving in and going for the meds - I don't care :) meds work, for me and many other people. I don't really care who profits from it as long as it helps me.
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#19 Mr_West

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 06:44 PM

UPDATE: So I got tested, and I showed up positive for a previous infection. Unfortunately where I live they will not treat Toxo unless you are HIV positive.

So I am looking into travelling to China, Indonesia or India to get treated. Antidepressants do not work for me. They only make things worse. So I am going to take the initiative and get my toxo treated. Yes, antimalarials are horrible... but Antidepressants give me serotonin syndrome so I am never going to take them again.

I will let you know how I go.


What country are you in now? It probably in most countries would cost less to find a doctor in private practice to just write you a script for some malarone.

Have you considered traveling to somewhere that malaria is endemic? Most doctors will prescribe antimalarial prophylaxis just for having travel plans there, but the dose will be lower than necessary to treat an active infection by quite a bit.
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#20 notfred

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 06:54 PM


Those "other options" include a variety of other meds.


Psychiatrists are nothing more than the retail arm of pharmaceutical companies.


Painting it a bit broad here, I think.

WTF do you expect them to do ? They are MEDICAL doctors so the solutions will be MEDICAL.

Edited by notfred, 11 September 2012 - 06:56 PM.

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Psyc meds: Aplenzin 522 mg, Abilify 15 mg, Vyvanse 70 mg, Lunesta 6 mg, Levetiracetam 2000 mg, Propranolol ER 60 mg
Other: Fenofibrate, Atorvastatin, Lisinopril, Hctz, Asprin, Metformin, Januvia, Ranitidine, Cetirizine, Nasalide, Montelukast
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Supplements: Fish Oil 6 g, Multi-vitamin/mineral, vitamin D 1,500 IU

I am in full remission (296.36) from Depression. ADD, insomnia, Epilepsy, and the Pseudoparkinsonian tremor are well controlled.

 

J'ai seul la clef de cette parade sauvage.
Arthur Rimbaud, Les Illuminations, Parade

"I think you are on enough medications." --my pdoc
 

Dr. Frankenstein: You know, I'm a rather brilliant surgeon. Perhaps I can help you with that hump.

Igor: What hump?

 


#21 Jerod Poore

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Posted 13 September 2012 - 04:05 PM

UPDATE: So I got tested, and I showed up positive for a previous infection. Unfortunately where I live they will not treat Toxo unless you are HIV positive.

The reason for that is because Toxo in adult humans is generally a problem only if your immune system is compromised, or you're pregnant. In the latter case it's your litter of little humans who are at risk. While I don't have HIV, my immune system, while never great to begin with, was made even worse by a chemical exposure in 1996. My white cell count is always below normal and my T-cells are fucking morons who can't recognize a strain of influenza they dealt with if it's been longer than two months.

So I am looking into travelling to China, Indonesia or India to get treated. Antidepressants do not work for me. They only make things worse. So I am going to take the initiative and get my toxo treated. Yes, antimalarials are horrible


Having just gone through a second course of them my advice is - try erythromycin first. Prior to starting the second course of Malarone I came down with a nasty case of strep throat and ended up taking two grams of amoxicillin a day for over a week. Once I was done with that social anxiety wasn't in my vocabulary. I still did the Malarone because I wanted those rat bastards deader than dead.

I actually enjoyed walking around downtown Seattle. I don't think I could live in that sort of environment, but cities don't bother me all that much right now.
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#22 sircuit

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 08:23 PM

Participant:

"Around 20-30% of have no response to anti-depressants."

Then 70 to 80% have a response to anti-depressants. How can this be if depression is the result of a parasite?
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#23 Blue Heron

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 06:14 AM

Something to consider: One of the more common anti-malarial treatments can cause psychiatric side effects. The New York Times ran a personal essay by someone who experienced them in today's paper.

 

A disclaimer: I'm posting this as food for thought, not to say that I agree with everything included in the essay.

 

(edited to add disclaimer)


Edited by Blue Heron, 08 August 2013 - 06:16 AM.

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"Note also how we don’t worry about taking medicine for pain the way we often do about taking 'happiness' pills like antidepressants. We worry that by artificially changing our mood we risk not being 'us.' But no one feels inauthentic because he took ibuprofen to relieve his back pain."

--"Happiness and Its Discontents," essay in the New York Times by Daniel M. Haybron, the author of the book, Happiness: A Very Short Introduction.

 

"What's your true self and what's your fake self. Yeah, and where are you on that scale? And how's it working for you? And sometimes you got to go with the fake one, and sometimes faking it 'til [you] make it is the best path, ... I mean sometimes for ... anybody I've known who's struggling ... you got to put your feet on the ground every day and say, you know, don't embrace the struggle, you're going to sink like a rock."

-- David O. Russell, the director of Silver Linings Playbook, in an interview with Terry Gross

(I took out most of the "you knows.")

 

 


#24 Blue Heron

Blue Heron

    Ready for the MCAT

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 06:26 AM

More grist for the mill, with links to information from related studies: A lesson learnt: the rise and fall of Lariam and Halfan (full-text article from PubMed)


  • 0

"Note also how we don’t worry about taking medicine for pain the way we often do about taking 'happiness' pills like antidepressants. We worry that by artificially changing our mood we risk not being 'us.' But no one feels inauthentic because he took ibuprofen to relieve his back pain."

--"Happiness and Its Discontents," essay in the New York Times by Daniel M. Haybron, the author of the book, Happiness: A Very Short Introduction.

 

"What's your true self and what's your fake self. Yeah, and where are you on that scale? And how's it working for you? And sometimes you got to go with the fake one, and sometimes faking it 'til [you] make it is the best path, ... I mean sometimes for ... anybody I've known who's struggling ... you got to put your feet on the ground every day and say, you know, don't embrace the struggle, you're going to sink like a rock."

-- David O. Russell, the director of Silver Linings Playbook, in an interview with Terry Gross

(I took out most of the "you knows.")

 

 


#25 Onlyme

Onlyme

    Amateur Psychopharmacologist

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  • Current Meds:300mg Venlafaxen ER (2-150mg daily doses) 100 mg bupropion , klonopin 2 mg/day, 100 mg seroquel

Posted 08 August 2013 - 04:55 PM

Participant:

"Around 20-30% of have no response to anti-depressants."

Then 70 to 80% have a response to anti-depressants. How can this be if depression is the result of a parasite?


Because it's human nature to believe in things that can be seen and killed, rather than something that is more ephemeral and requires a large amount of trial and error to effect what is in many cases a partial cure that often requires medication for life.
  • 0

What? Me worry?

meds tried so far, cymbalta caused SEVERE sweating, wellbutrin + ativan, ativan worked but there was no effect from welbutrin, celexa + ativan, same effect. lexapro, no effect. lamictal, vivid bloody nightmares, fluoxitine was a bad trip.



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