I have studied the topic of Endorphin Deficiency quite a bit recenlty. I believe this goes hand in hand with Jacky's studies as well as some of the threads that have been posted in the past regarding Opiates for depression. I would like to create discusion here about this topic and hear different people's opinions and views.
Depression is a serious problem that affects roughly 9.5% of the population or 20.9 million American Adults in any given year. I don't believe there is enough being done to try to find relief for the people who live with this illness. I believe that depression, anxiety disorders, and/or personality disorders can be caused by many factors and also an imbalance or deficiency of different chemicals in the brain.
For many who seek help from the medical profession the doctors readily prescribe Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors to treat these disorders. I believe it is very likely that serotonin is not the only chemical that causes these illnesses and/or disorders. I don't believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to treating such a complex illness.
For me personally I have experienced depression off and on for the past 10 years due to outside events such as multiple deaths of peers and loved ones and also what I believe to be a chemical imbalance. After 3 close friends of mine committed suicide in 1994 within a couple months of eachother I found myself with depression and ended up in a mental ward for a few weeks. Lack of maturity, guilt, not understanding the events, and no support from family played their role in a mental break down. I was diagnosed with bipolar and quickly put on lithium and paxil. These drugs did absolutely nothing to ease the depression.
Recently I discovered Adderall, which according to wikipedia is believed to work by blocking the reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine into the presynaptic neuron and increasing their release from the presynamptic neuron into the extraneuronal space. Hmmmm? Maybe, for me, it wasn't a serotonin problem afterall.
I have heard on multiple occasions from many opiate users, that opiates are the only things that make them feel "normal." Is it likely that an endorphin deficiency or excess could be the culprit? I believe its very possible.
"In 1982, Risch and Brambilla et al, two different research groups, found elevated plasma levels of beta-endorphin in depressed patients, compare to normal controls (Willner 1985). After injections of beta-endorphin, they observed a general antidepressant effect (Tejedor-Real 1995). Kline furthered research by continuing beta-endorphin injection studies. Although subject to uncontrolled variables, he gave depressed people beta-endorphin and reported some temporary improvements while others even reported a state of mania with the injections (Davis 1984). In another double blind placebo controlled crossover study, 9 depressed patients showed significant improvement approximately 2 to 4 hours after beta-endorphin administration compared to the placebo. The results of this experiment suggested that depressed patients have a deficit in endorphin activity due to the improved moods with subsequent beta-endorphin injections (Li 1981)." http://sulcus.berkeley.edu/mcb/165_0...ipts/_467.html
While studying the endorphin deficiency hypothesis in regards to depression I found this statement from the link above to be intersting: "From past results, the Endorphin-Deficiency Hypothesis for depression came about, giving a possible understanding of depression and its symptoms in terms of a deficit endorphins in the brain. But opposing evidence contradicts this hypothesis stating that perhaps it is not a lack of endorphins, but rather an excess of endorphins, or even that endorphins are not a factor in the depression question at all."
Since there are over 20 different types of endorphins in the body and a lack of research, one theory may be that the beta-endorphin that was used in the study may not have been the endorphin that was deficient, or that once again there is not a single cure all for something as complex as depression. The mania experienced in the subjects who showed a deficit could very well be that their body's have simply adapted to the lack of beta-endorphin and the reintroduction was a shock to their system. It would be interesting to see if that the beta-endorphin was reintroduced on a controlled level over time if their body's would readjust to the chemical and if they would show stabilization and improvement. Many of the drugs used for the illness and other disorders take time for the body to adjust to them. Why couldn't that be the case for something as powerful as beta-endorphin? I would like to see additional controlled studies over a period of time performed.
I also found the final two paragraphs from this link interesting concerning tricyclic antidepressants and naloxone:
"On the other hand, studies done with antidepressant drugs have come to support the endorphin link to depression. It has been found that tricyclic antidepressants interacts with the opioid system, accounting for the their antidepressant effects. In Tejedor-Real's study, naloxone reversed the positive effect of imipramine, a tricyclic antidepressant, which provides strong support for the opioid mediation of this and other antidepressant effects. Further evidence is provided in similar behavioral models of depression such as a forced swimming test that involves a stress and despair dimension where naloxone has also been found to antagonize the effects of tricyclic antidepressants (Tejedor-Real 1995).
Endorphin research has led to new, though conflicting findings in the field of mental illness. Throughout the years, evidence has existed that links an excess, deficiency, and even static levels of endorphin activity to depression. Further investigations may yield a new treatment for depression and should improve our understanding of the role of endorphins in normal and abnormal physiology (Li 1981). It has even been said that some patients in the future could be treated with their own endorphins, extracted under local anesthetic from their cerebrospinal fluid during a routine checkup visit and held in reserve for moments of mental crisis (Davis 1984). Perhaps research such as that done by Tejedor-Real will further provide evidence that will support the link between brain endorphin levels and depression and continue to build a case that will, in future years, give a basis for better, more effective biochemical treatment to a psychological disease."
I'll stop here for the sake of keeping this post from getting any longer, because I would like to see some discussion and other's opinions about this. I may add to this thread with other findings if anybody shows any interest is discussing this.