Posted by: Mel | 2008/07/24

Medical jargon needed in layman' s terms!

Dear CyberShrink

I' m a female, 31 years old.

I was diagnosed with GAD at the age of 11 (never medicated or treated) and then at the age of 26, within a 3 month period, I was diagnosed with advanced endometriosis and PCO as well as depression and mild OCD. Other than the oral contraceptive pill, I do not take any medication for the Endo &  PCO.

Hand in hand with the anxiety and depression, I have insomnia. I have been taking 1/2 a Stilnox/AdcoZolpidiem tablet every night since 2003.

Up until recently, I was taking 10mg Lorien on a daily basis to assist with the GAD, OCD and Depression.

In June, an incorrect treatment plan was provided by my regular GP' s colleague which led me to, as per his instruction, stopping the Lorien completely and then 4 days later beginning Reductil. I had a complete relapse and became a crying wrecking ball… only to later discover that Reductil was anything but an anti-depressant.
This cold turkey stint led me rushing back to my therapist for weekly sessions.

3 weeks after my relapse, another GP recommended that instead of going back onto the Lorien, I take 5 HTP.

My questions to you:
1. Given my history, is 5 HTP sufficient (2 morning &  4 at bed time)

2. Is there a natural way for me to stop taking the sleeping tablets? I hate being drugged up and not in control. What about Melatonin, how does that work?

3. Please assist me in laymen’ s terms with the following questions:
a. The function of serotonin
b. How serotonin is naturally produced by the body and how it naturally functions.
c. What causes low or insufficient serotonin levels?
d. How the GP decides on what type of anti-depressant is required for treatment.
e. SSRI –  selectively blocking the re-uptake of the neurotransmitter serotonin. What does this mean? (This was taken from the Lorien package insert.)
f. Anti-Depressants artificially increase serotonin levels, whereas 5HTP increases serotonin levels naturally by providing the building blocks - is this an accurate statement?
g. If 5HTP is the more natural remedy to repair the body’ s lack of Serotonin, why do doctors prescribe anti-depressants?

I do apologize, I know this is a lot of info, but I am on a mission to find healthier alternatives to assist me with dealing with my Anxiety, Depression and OCD.

Kind regards


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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Reductil should not be used where there is a history of Depression.
5HTP is not a recognized treatment for significant depression, and NOT preferable to proper antidepressants.
You need a fresh assessment, in person, by a good local psychiatrist. If the sleep disturbance is related to the Depression, then proper treatment of the Depression should relieve the sleep concerns, too.
Now, as for your other, numbered, questions, those would take me hours, and pages and pages, to answer properly. I'm sure that elsewhere in H24 you will find, if you search the site, more material on serotonin, and a Google search will bring you loads of such material.
Lord knows how any particular GP chooses and AD --- in too many cases it may depend on what a pretty young drug rep was encouraging him to use. Seriously, it is hard to predict reliably which AD will best suiot which person, other than by trying some.
As for selective blocking, the issue is that where certain chemicals normally functioning in brain activity are effectively low, blocking their re-uptake ( normally they are released, and then after acting at a nerve ending, taken back into the nerve for later use ) leaves the smaller amount that is available around and active for longer, partly relieving the releative lack of that particular chemical. Selective means the effect is predominantly on that one specific chemical, rather than on several at once.
There is nothing even remotely "natural" about taking 5HTP --- I wish the law totally banned the use of the weasel word "Natural" in the promotion of any health-related product --- it is almost always a lie. 5HTP does not naturally occur in tablets of capsules, and is never naturally consumed as such, only as part of a normal diet and as present within or dervied from, some foodstuffs. ANd there is nothing beneficial as such abotu something which is "natural" --- arsenic and struchnine are also entirely natursl substances, but they are very very bad for us.
If 5HTP taken by mouth was as effective as ADs, doctors would prescribe it instead of ADs. But it isn't so they dont.
There isn;'t a single shred of good scientific evidence that products like 5HTP are any "healthier" than proper ADs --- dont too easily believe the self-serving advertising for "natural" products.

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