The Infinite Mind

Infinite Mind
Infinite Mind

Peter Kramer, author of Listening to Prozac and Against Depression, hosts the award-winning The Infinite Mind, a PBS radio show focusing on the latest developments in neuro-psychology , mental illness and wellness, and alternatives to achieving and sustaining brain health Copies of previous shows can be downloaded from the website (Check here for downloads). IM may air on a PBS station in your area. If not, here’s the Sirius schedule.

From the website: ”

Recent programs include: Depression in the Brain, Dyslexia, Asperger’s Syndrome (a two-part special report), ECT, Bipolar Disorder, Multiple Sclerosis, Mental Health Care for Immigrants, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Alcoholism, Schizoaffective Disorder, Mental Health Care for Latinos, Pregnancy and the Mind, Epilepsy, and Mental Health and Primary Care. In the wake of the September 11 th attacks and Hurricane Katrina, the program also extensively covered subjects related to trauma, PTSD, and resilience. Among the topics to be examined in the coming year are Neuroethics and the Law, Childhood Disorders, Brain Trauma and its Prevention and Treatment, Alzheimer’s Revisited, Memory, How Boys and Girls Learn, and New Treatments for Depression.

The program “explores exciting scientific discoveries and cultural phenomena “featuring discussions with renowned neuroscientists, clinicans, public figures and clinicians, call ins, first person stories,readings and musical performances.

The Infinite Mind and other works by LCMedia have received more than 60 major broadcast awards, including: a Guggenheim Fellowship, a United Nations Media Award, a Peabody Award, six National Headliner Awards, eight International Radio Awards, four Gracie Awards, and five Unity Awards in Media for coverage of minority issues. Media awards received from leading mental health organizations include: the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, the National Institute of Mental Health, four awards from the National Mental Health Association, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the American Psychiatric Association, and the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression.

pristiq for effexor

Update: Wyeth drops out of European sales of Prstiq after studies show its inefectiveness

Cleared for marketing as an antidepressant in the U.S., Pristiq is based on the active ingredient in Wyeth’s now-off-patent blockbuster Effexor. Some doctors and researchers question whether the drug is much different from–or better than–other antidepressants already on the market.

Pristiq not working (from Psychobabble)

After a week and a half on pristiq (Wyeth’s new drug to ‘improve upon’ Effexor which is going generic (so Wyeth reps are no longer distributing free samples to docs … JUST A WARNING to those this applies to), I spent several hours researching this drug today and finally realized that what I am experiecing is Effexor Withdrawal Syndrome! (without the brainzaps, probably because pristiq which is actually a natural compound created by our bodies and the chemical that effexor aides in producing) is providing some assistance.

Here’s a sample, probably the best I’ve found so far from the PsychCentral Blog, and be sure to click on Carlat’s 5 main reasons NOT to take Pristiq. Crazymeds has a forum on Effexor and Pristiq well worth looking into as well.

Just a reminder for those who don’t know what Effexor withdrawal is like: major mood swings, chills, sweats, feverish, exhausted, anxious, emotive, confused, terror, headaches ….All this because I mistakenly checked the wrong box on the HIPPA form and have no coverage for meds or anything other than MM and still pay $740 per month.

Don’t you just love these guys? Don’t you?
Here’s the official site

And here’s Wyeth’s analysis of withdrawl syndrome obtained from downloadable directions to health care practitioners.

<there>have been spontaneous reports of adverse events
occurring upon discontinuation of these drugs, particularly when abrupt, including the following:
dysphoric mood, irritability, agitation, dizziness, sensory disturbances (e.g., paresthesia, such as
electric shock sensations), anxiety, confusion, headache, lethargy, emotional lability, insomnia,
hypomania, tinnitus, and seizures.

Also just found this description of Serotonin Syndrome which explains why you would have to stop Effexor before starting pristiq… altho some docs are mixing the two until the pristiq starts working effectively …

Wyeth, based in Madison, N.J., said net income declined 6% to $1.12 billion, or 83 cents a share, from $1.20 billion, or 87 cents, a year earlier. Results for the latest quarter included charges of $110.5 million related to Wyeth’s cost-cutting program, which includes the elimination of about 6% of its work force so far.

Sales rose 5% to $5.9 billion, with virtually all of the gain coming from the weak dollar. Wyeth’s biggest product, the antidepressant Effexor, had sales of $1.02 billion, up 5%.

Wyeth executives indicated their focus won’t be solely on prescription drugs. The company plans to build up its nonpharmaceutical business, which includes consumer health care, nutritional and animal-health products. WSJ July 24.

Psychotic vs. Nonpsychotic Depression

Serotonin lights up brain post treatment
Serotonin lights up brain post treatment

An overview

A growing body of research collected through the means of structural magnetic imaging (sMRI) has indicated that structural brain abnormalities exist in patients diagnosed with schizophrenia (Cannon 1994) as well as in patients with affective disorders, such as depression (Lange 2004) and bipolar disorder (Lopez-Larson 2002). Furthermore, Salokangas et al. (2002) report that there are numerous regions of overlap in structural brain abnormality between schizophrenics and individuals with affective disorders. UCLA Undergraduate Studies

Here’s what a brain looks like when it is impaired by non psychotic depression

a depressed brain sans psychosis
a depressed brain sans psychosis

Visit PET Scan Gallery for more images and for information on diagnosing depression.

brain zaps

better known as brain zaps

When I first started this blog back in 2008, stories about brain zaps were few and far between and little research was available on the phenomenon.  It was difficult to find any information save for comments on message boards from people who were discontinuing medications like SSRIs, SNRIs, benzodiozepines, or Adderall.

Scientists have come a long way since then in studying the causes of brain zaps, also referred to as brain shivers or brain shocks.  The most prevalent theory today attributes them to disruptions in the level of GABA in the brain.  The ‘zap’, many contend, can be viewed as a mini seizure caused by lower levels of GABA.

At low levels, GABA, an inhibitory (calming) chemical is associated with anxiety, depression, movement disorders, and seizures. Several medications prescribed for these conditions increase the amount of GABA available in the brain.

Because SSRIs, benzodiazepines, ecstacy and Adderall are all associated with an increase in the brain’s level of GABA, discontinuing these drugs are likely associated with low brain levels of GABA.

As low levels of GABA can trigger seizures, this hypothesis leaves open the possibility that the reported brain zaps are instances of brief, localized seizures. What Causes Brain Zaps. Psychology Today.

In my recollection, before starting out on medications in 1995, I was experiencing brain zaps as well as electrical charges throughout my body.  So according to this theory, the GABA levels in my brain were dangerously low.

When I started medications, initially imipramine, then Paxil, I recall how upon falling to sleep my head would jerk so violently at times I would fear breaking my neck.


how to survive
how to survive

Antidepressants and other medications deplete the body and brain of glutathione.