Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Medical Bi-Polar Disorder mimics drug use

  1. Oct 17, 2006 #1
    Consider a drug user who habitually takes MDMA ecstasy once per week. This user experiences an acute euphoria for hours following the initial dosage. This euphoria can be attributed to, among other factors, the release of the neurotransmitters seratonin and dopamine into the bloodstream. Once metabolized the seratonin and dopamine cease to produce the euphoria the user experienced in the few hour after initial dosage. Due to the sudden release of neurotransmitters, the neurotransmitter storage sites in the brain are at a depleted level as compared to normal pre-dosage levels. This depletion means that the brain does not have sufficient levels of seratonin and dopamine to control and moderate the person's emotional state and the effect is a sustained depression experienced by the user for a period of a few days afterwards (until the endogenous brain sites that store these neurotransmitters have had enough time to replenish themselves to normal levels).

    I believe, as I suspect you also believe, that processes similar to this can explain the symptoms of euphoria followed by depression, that users of all varieties of narcotics experience.

    This seems to me to be nearly identical to what manic-depressives ('m-ds' for short) experience, except that they do not need a narcotic to achieve their episodes of mania. I posit that 'm-ds' trigger their manic episodes solely by thought alone. I believe that 'm-ds' have 'peak experiences' or 'revelations' that occur from their conscious thoughts. These 'peak experiences' and 'revelations' may be the products of 'm-ds' integrating seemingly irrelevant pieces of information into tangible insights. Let me give an example to clarify...

    An 'm-d' who has a job as a saleswoman has noticed that many of her deals are falling through due to the fact that the parties she has dealt with in the past keep lying to her about key aspects of the deals. While getting a coffee at Starbucks during a lunch break, she reflects about this dishonesty in her sales deals. She walks over to the sugar and milk bar to prepare her coffee. Suddenly, a gentleman pulls up right beside her at the bar and begins preparing his coffee. She asks the man if there is any brown sugar packets left in the holder, because she cannot see if there are any left from her angle. The man takes a look at the holder, turns to her, starts blinking very rapidly and says, 'no they are all gone'. She settles for white sugar, empties the packets into her coffee and turns to go to her seating. En route to her seating she impulsively turns around and looks at the man, only to find him pulling out the last brown sugar packet from the holder on the bar. She cannot believe that he lied to her over something so petty. 'But wait' she thinks, 'when he lied, he started blinking profusely.' She realizes in that instant that a quickening of a person's blink rate precludes a lie. Then she recalls all the salesmen who have lied to her and how they would start blinking rapidly as they fed her a 'bs' line. 'WOW', she thinks, 'I can't believe I figured that out.' And whoooosh, a wave of joy comes over her face, she smiles a deep smile and her eyes start to tear up. THIS IS HER PEAK EXPERIENCE, HER REVELATION.

    An event like this can trigger a 'm-ds' manic episode very easily. She doesn't know it, but that feeling she got when she deeply smiled and teared up, was a result of her brain sites dumping large amounts of seratonin into her bloodstream. She may remain high for a day or even a few days, but afterwards her depressive episode follows, much like the MDMA ecstasy user. A person without the 'm-d' genetic predispostion that she has, who had her experience verbatim, would have had the same 'peak experience' and 'revelation', but it would not have beem as deep of an emotional response and not as much of the brain sites seratonin reserves would have been dumped into his bloodstream. Therefore, he would not have experienced the deep depressive state afterwards, nor would he have experienced the acute euphoria during the revelation. His response would be on a more even keel, less of a high, less of a low.

    I think it is important to note that there may be 'm-ds' without the genetic predispostion in their genes. These people may be genetically normal in every way, but due to their incredibly high intelligence levels, they are capable of very deep revelations and thus they are succeptible to very deep manic and depressive episodes just like a genetically predisposed 'm-d' is.
    On the other hand, some people may have extremely high genetic predispostions to 'm-d' and ideas that you or I would call mundane and arbitrary, seem like the discovery of E=MC2 to them. In my opinion, these are the people who need treatment the most since their behaviour and episodes are largely controlled by the whims of their genetic programming and not by their conscious thoughts.

    I'd be extra curious to hear from psychologists, narcotics users, manic-depressives or anyone else who can offer some insight into this idea. Criticisms and suggestions welcome as always.

  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 17, 2006 #2
    I think the high-low thing is common to adaptive systems with constant feedback like loops, like the bodies mechanism for homeostasis, e.g blood sugar levels pre and post eating and the time it takes the body to adapt.

    Its a characteristic of complex systems in general i think. See Here.
  4. Oct 18, 2006 #3
    I understand, but I think my post was meant to address issues more specific than simple feedback loops. I don't think simplifying it adds substance to the discussion.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook