Lecture 9, Mental disorders
General: This lecture was mainly focused on depression and anxiety. Both are connected to HPA axis and to production and reduction of production of cortisol, the precursor of stress.
VV: I usually appritiate that we don’t go deep into history of scientists we talk about. With Sigmund Freud it is different. There are so many interesting things that could have been mentioned to just spice the lecture up a bit … For example that before he made any progress with human psychiatry he studied sexual life of eels. But to the lecture. The main part of it was that a lot of mental disorders are caused by insufficient regulation of cortisol. At some point the corticol, that is natural for us and it was very important for our very survival, becomes toxic for our hippocampus. It is not known why it is but long term exposure or extremely high concentration to cortisol proves to be harmful and pernicious. Hyppocampus is among other things responsible for reduction of HPA axis. This causes downwards spiral to depression. I questioned, whether we trully need cortisol nowadays, when we don’t really need to be prepared for protection of our lifes against animals. I had to answer myself that we need it to be prepared for a lot of things even though we created reatively safe enviroinment for ourselfs. Last part was about pharmaceutics. Main drugs used from what I understood are SSRIs. I regret that I forgot to ask because their mechanism really reminded me the mechanism of MDMA (drog that should found in M and E) and I wonder whether there is some connection of those two.
PM: This lecture was very intresting because mental disorders is very concrete subject and something that everybody at some point of life has to deal with or at least knows someone who has dealt with it. I speacially did not know how closely cortisol was related to the disorders and appreciated that it was explained very well.