Saturday, March 10, 2012

Anger, Depression and Cholesterol - Learning new things

"Hear me, my chiefs. I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more, forever." Chief Joseph.

I started writing a blog post in my head a few weeks ago.  Like Chief Joseph, I am tired of fighting.  It seems that all my life, I have been angry about something at someone or in most cases a great many someones.  I do not suffer fools gladly.  I hate injustice, corruption, unbridled greed and people who claim to speak for God.  In no particular order. And it/they are everywhere.

Being filled with anger, hatred and frustration, speaking and striking blindly in all directions, (or so it seems to me) is exhausting.  I hate it.  I wish I could stop.  I wish I could be like some I know who stick their head firmly up their rear, hearing, seeing speaking no evil, only reading and quoting nauseatingly sweet syrupy platitudes and pretending the world is all sunshine and roses.

Constant anger and a low boiling point are signs of depression.  Many years ago, (but not soon enough, ask my kids) I went on the little white pills.  They didn't do anything for me but I found that other people didn't act like complete assholes when I was taking the pills but started again as soon as I stopped. They do keep my temperament much more on an even keel even at a low dose.

This was as far as I got in my composing.  Then this past week, I read an article in The Globalist, a weekly freebie of international news and views that comes in my Inbox every Friday.  A strange place to learn something about one's health.

The article Limbaugh, Lipitor and the Incivility of American Political Life speculates on a connection between the "increasing incivility" in America and the $30 billion per year consumption of cholesterol lowering statin drugs. 

The article says statins can reduce fatal heart attacks in patients with increased risk factors — such as diabetes, very high cholesterol, or prior heart attack — and that these drugs can be life-saving for some patients. . .  According to Dr. John Abramson, a professor at the Harvard Medical School and author of Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine, "These drugs have been on the market for 21 years... and yet there is still not a single study that documents a health benefit to women of any age, or men over 65 who don't already have heart disease or diabetes." . . . Yet the immense yearly expenditures on marketing statins has assured that over the past decade most of the medically insured, over-50 population of the United States has been prescribed statins.

The fly in the ointment as usual is the side effects Overlooked in the developed world's rush to medicate cholesterol to lower and lower levels have been profound questions about the relationship between cholesterol and cognitive function, mood and behavior. The pre-statin scientific literature provided numerous hints of a link between low (or lowered) cholesterol and violent death, as well as aggression. Reducing cholesterol reduces levels of serotonin, a critical brain neurotransmitter, and low brain serotonin is well known to be linked to violence, impaired impulse control and aggression in both humans and animals

Eureka (Yeah?  Well you don't smell so good yourself...but I digress).  For years I have been feeling smug when I go for a physical.  I might be 50 kg overweight but my heart rate is low 60 to 70, blood pressure low-normal (boosted by coffee and insufferable politicians) AND my cholesterol levels off the scale on the LOW side. 

So finding a possible reason for this behaviour of mine has made me feel immensely better.  Now I wonder if they have a drug to increase cholesterol or do I just keep taking serotonin boosters?

15 comments:

  1. Interesting. I've read several reports that statins can interfere with memory, but didn't know they can also affect mood.

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    1. It is the low blood cholesterol which apparently affects mood, whether naturally low as in my case, or artificially low if you are on statins.

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  2. Next step: you get the Nobel prize for medicine. Or something like that.

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    1. Is that like the No Bell Prize and Pullet Surprise?

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  3. You make me think about my view of the world. There's plenty of pain and injustice and on the other hand, plenty of joy and kindness. I read somewhere about a life being filled with 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows. I don't like the hypothesis-the joys have got to trump the sorrows.

    As for pharmaceuticals, well, they have been my professional life. The more time I spend in the area, the more I have learned to view all medical intervention with an objective, inquiring lens. Pharmaceuticals have done some marvellous things for mankind. However the fact that something has been approved for sale means it has passed a risk/benefit regulatory assessment. Period. There are drugs that come to market with clinical trials that only demonstrated their effects for 6 months-not all-but some. The rest of the information is modelled into the future. And we often don't do much post marketing research to understand what happens once drugs are used in the real world outside a trial setting. Some places to look for information are Prescrire (you may have to pay-but from what I've seen it's very easy to understand) , health technology assessment agencies (CADTH in Canada) and Therapeutics Initiative in BC.

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    1. In my personal world, joys far outstrip sorrows. I wish that were enough. I shall look up some of the references you provide. I had hoped you would be commenting. Thanks.

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  4. A few years ago my motto became "I used to get angry..now I am merely amused". This seems to work for me. Just sit back ...don't say much and see what unfolds. You quickly learn nothing much happens that is really important in the long run except your own peace of mind.

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    1. afcg, your advice is well taken on a personal level but if you care at all about the rest of the world, how do you deal with what you see or know is happening?

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    2. We can still change or better the world...we just need to make our "world" smaller...help where we can...small things add up. We are only fooling ourselves if we think we have a hand in the big picutre..To me it is more important to walk the walk than talk the talk.

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    3. afcg, you make so much sense. There is no point being angry at the world for not being perfect. I must do what I can to make my corner of it better. That doesn't mean i should ignore big picture stuff and can still comment on it but I should not have apoplectic fits over it. Many thanks.

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  5. Two tears in a bucket - motherfuckit.
    the Ol'Buzzard

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  6. No need for drugs - there are foods that increase cholesterol; of course, there are different kinds of cholesterol some of which are more beneficial than others.

    I keep a steady supply of dark chocolate in my medicine cabinet as part of my serotonin boosting regime.

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  7. I have been eating large quantities of artery clogging cholesterol boosting foods for years. Look at me.
    I love chocolate too. Almost addicted. But not dark chocolate - too bitter. Chocolate raises serotonin levels in women, I know, but does it work in men too?

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  8. Yep, but dark chocolate is better as the milk in milk chocolate can negate the positive effects making it neutral calories. I like dark chocolate in meat sauces. http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/neuro/neuro04/web1/kcoveleskie.html

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