I have lived with depression(Dysthymia, medication induced Psychotic depression) since the age of twelve and discovered that my mood and energy were highly dependent on my sleep cycle. A rather minor change in bedtime could significantly alter my mood and quality of sleep. When younger I also experienced a rather pronounced diurnal rhythm( ultradian cycling?) where I went from suicidally depressed in the morning to euthymic/hypomanic (feeling at one with the universe) at night. In addition to sleep, diet and hormonal shifts such as menses, seemed to also have a significant impact on my mood.
My background is in biological and social science. My first degree that I obtained in 1995 was in Biochemistry and I found it difficult to find related work. Within the last ten years although I worked in university medical library and a VA research center while I obtained my second degree which was in Psychology. In the VA I assisted researchers who performed systematic type reviews. I found the work interesting however my primary interest was more in the area of mood disorders.
In 2003 my experience with sleep and mood problems inspired an experiment. The research had to do with degree of depression and circadian phase shift hypothesis. It was published in the Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 May 9;103(19):7414-9. Epub 2006 Apr 28. It was also mentioned in the textbook “Manic Depressive Illness” on page 687.
Additionally, in 2003 I had a premonition that the vagus nerve might play an important role in the brain gut axis. This idea was due to a number of reasons: Ayurveda has long believed that there is a connection, an anatomy course revealed that information traveled in both directions via the vagus nerve, and thirdly my experience with diet. Ayurveda more specifically mentioned that toxins in the gut could affect the nervous system. The vagus nerve seemed like one way toxins in the gut could be affecting the brain. This of course has been confirmed to a degree recently via the microbiome however not “toxins”.
More recently my interest has been in the concept of a mood spectrum(I also predicted this ~1994 and my psychiatrist protested) and also psychotic depression since this is what I have experienced. Dr. Phelps is one such bipolar expert who believes in the idea of a mood spectrum with Bipolar I at one end and Unipolar depression at the other.
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