Why neuroscience is ending the Prozac era

May 26, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Spinewave Bulletin 

schizophrenia networks in prefrontal cortexDeveloping safe, targeted, and effective drugs for mental illnesses has increasingly become a struggle for the pharmaceutical industry.

As a result, there has been a gradual withdrawal of research dollars from this area, despite the fact that globally, the mental health pharmaceutical market is more than $80 billion.

Despite the ongoing need to treat mental health problems, research has not produced a novel neurological drug in the past 30 years.  Additionally, many drugs currently on the market have been increasingly identified with negative side effects and limited efficacy.

Until recently, most mood disorders were attributed to an imbalance in a single neurochemical, such as serotonin.  Increasingly, scientists have come to acknowledge that this is an oversimplification that can lead to counterproductive treatment.  Due to the complexity of brain networks, these pharmaceutical compounds may work to alleviate some symptoms, but exacerbate others.  They may even contribute to new problems, such as cognitive impairment, suicide, or diabetes.

High cost, negative press, and the lack of an efficacy model have resulted in the drying up of the drug pipeline for pharmaceutical treatment of mental illness. In its place is a science focused on understanding the brain as a series of networks, each of which supports a different aspect of our experience and behaviour. By this analysis, the brain is like a city: you can’t make sense of the bigger picture without knowing how everything interacts.

New technology and an increased focus on traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have led to a greater understanding of the complexity of the brain.  Instead of focusing on single chemical neurotransmitters affecting cognition and behavior, mental health research has evolved to address neurological functions through models of neural circuits known as “neural networks”. 

These functional brain regions can be influenced using non-invasive technologies, brain training and applications like chiropractic. Many scientists see this movement towards identifying and modifying neural networks as a more effective and safer way to assess and treat problems related to cognition, behaviour, and emotion.

As the Prozac nation fades, the empire of the circuit-based human will rise, probably to the point where dinner party chatter will include the misplaced jargon of neuroscience.

Adapted from: The Dana Foundation. Brain in the News. 2013. 20 (8).

Concentration

focus concentration chiropracticSuccess in any endeavour requires the ability to think clearly.

This is the reason the more extreme forms of math are taught in schools; math that we have no actual use for within our lifetime. However, what we learn from such calculations is simply how to walk through progressions of thought towards a logical (or seemingly illogical) conclusion.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where many people don’t think through progressions to any degree. Instead we might just flaunt our ill-gotten beliefs, reiterations of news readers, lecturers, or work mates beliefs, putting no consideration to where such beliefs or trains of thought lead us as they reach their logical (or seemingly illogical) conclusion. This is not thought, but a kamikaze approach to life.

Could it be possible that our physical health is hindering accurate thought?

As a musician and a writer I’m constantly digging into new theories and teachings, then piecing these thoughts together in order to create either a musical arrangement or a philosophical ideal. This requires many hours each day of studying very old books and often over 8 hours per day at the piano. The music industry has been extremely generous to me over the years. I’ve had the ability to do many things that most musicians only dream of, however the work is extremely taxing physically: not just the long hours practicing but also the demanding nature of performances or the 4AM finishes in the studio. There are many potential distractions to concentration on some stages and a lot of energy being spilled out into the crowds. Many times I’ve come off stage after giving every last drip of energy and emotion, quite literally wanting to collapse. So when it comes to energy, it’s very important I start with a full tank.

focus-concentration-chiropractic-2

Bring Back the Boogie

Unfortunately, over the last few years I’ve let my health go. If I went to my doctor for a physical check-up he would have assured me I’m in fantastic physical health within all the “normal” indicators they look to; however I knew I wasn’t so fine. My concentration span was virtually non-existent, I had more aches and pains than I care to number, and I was tired all day for no apparent reason.

Worst for me, I lost the ability to think or concentrate through my work.

Because of aches I could only sit on a piano stool for less than 30 minutes per day then I would suffer for quite a few hours – sometimes days – not being able to return to the piano. Standing up or lying down was uncomfortable. This was when I approached Spinewave.

I knew it had taken years of neglect to allow my body to reach such a low point and this wouldn’t be fixed over night by some magical fairy dust; it would take some time. For a start many of the sessions were pretty tough as it would seem my entire body was in lockdown, but week by week Dr Neil worked his magic stripping away the layers of problems. To be honest I was surprised how quickly the aches started disappearing. It’s approximately three months since I first visited Spinewave and the difference is not just noticeable, it’s phenomenal.

This last week was especially a “breakthrough moment” for me as I noticed in my study and piano playing I was picking up concepts faster than I have in years. What might have taken over a week to learn just a few months ago, I now master in 15 minutes.

focus concentration chiropractic 3

The processor was working again – I got my thought back!

I’m extremely grateful for the work Dr Neil has done and Pip’s cheerful smile every time I walk in the door. A doctor might check your oil and water, but Dr Neil is in the process of finely tuning the engine so I, and other patients, can work at the peak of our game. I’m impressed by their professionalism and, at the same time, their friendliness. We’ve discussed the critical nature of keeping one’s health and mind up to the level of one’s performance so our body isn’t letting us down or even holding us back in achieving goals. Having seen this in action I fully concur. I also confidently believe in Spinewave’s ability to assist in this process.

Malcolm Bishop www.dreambuilders.co.nz/music

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