Q. What with all the side effects I had during chemotherapy, I really wasn’t in the mood for sex very often. And now that I’m done with chemo, I’m finding I’m still not in the mood… and even when I am, it’s painful! What’s going on? A. Well, for once those powerful chemo drugs aren’t the primary cause of these new aggravating side effects: loss of sexual desire, and painful intercourse. Instead, the villain is your body’s lack of hormone production, brought on by menopause, brought on by, yes, those chemo drugs. Most pre-menopausal women go into what’s called chemical menopause or instant menopause during chemotherapy. And if you were going through menopause when you started chemo, the drugs will only increase your symptoms. This chemically induced menopause, unlike the long, gradual process most women go through naturally, is intense. The drugs immediately diminish your ovaries’ and adrenal glands’ production of es...
It is time to retire the idea that depression is caused by a “chemical imbalance of the brain.” The chemical imbalance myth creates the false impression that our brains are some form of neurotransmitter porridge that can be rendered just right with squirts of serotonin and dopamine.
Thanks to at least two decades of research, we now have a number of good working models on what tends to go wrong in the brain during a depressive episode. A review article by Murali Rao and Julie Alderson in this month”s Current Psychiatry outlines four overlapping theories of depression. Let’s look at three of them:
Differences in neuron densities in various regions of the brain.
The effect of stress on neural growth and death.
Alterations in feedback pathways connecting the pre-frontal cortex to the limbic system.
The common denominator is what happens when the brain is exposed to chronic stress. Among other things, stress promotes the release of glucocorticoids. O...
Last year, I began doing pieces based on Edge questions. Edge, which bills itself as an online salon, annually asks a provocative question of leading scientists and writers and the like. Their answers are published as a series of books.
You can find my five previous bipolar takes to the following questions by clicking the links below:
What Have You Changed Your Mind About? Why?
What Scientific Concept Would Improve Everyone’s Cognitive Toolkit?
What Is Your Favorite Deep, Elegant, or Beautiful Explanation?
What Scientific Idea is Ready for Retirement?
What Do We Believe But Cannot Prove?
This year’s Edge question is framed as a statement: This Idea Must Die: Scientific Theories That Are Blocking Progress.
This was an easy one: Chemical imbalance of the brain. The scientific community emphatically laid this idea to rest ages ago, but you wou...
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