The topic of this week’s lecture was mental illness. We think that this was a remarkably interesting topic, maybe even the most interesting so far. Until now, we have learned how the synapses and impulses in the brain work, and it was interesting to learn what will happen if something goes wrong. The mental illnesses depression and panic disorder are something that most of us know by name, but to really know what is happening in the brain was new.
When we were reading about the topic, we were surprised that many medicines were found “by accident”, without even trying to develop that specific medicine. We were also surprised that there are some medicines that work without us exactly knowing how and why they work. Another thing that came to mind was that for example the medicines for anxiety do not affect the HPA-axis directly. This made us wonder if it would be more effective if the medicines treating anxiety would affect the HPA-axis directly? We also read that novel drugs are now being developed based on our new understanding of the stress response. One promising drug target is the receptors for CRH. Would this be more effective, and provide a quicker response? Another question we have is how a person get a mental illness diagnose? Is the patient just questioned and the diagnose is given based on the answers, or how does it work?
We think that this was an important topic to learn as well as interesting. When for example developing medicine and methods for treating the illnesses, it is crucial to know how they work. Since a lot of people suffer from these illnesses, it would also be good to understand them even better so that they can be prevented and not only treated.