Yohannon (yohannon) wrote,

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Yesterday I contemplated the nature of self in light of continual chemical alteration, self prescribed or otherwise. The comments I received were of great help -- thanks to everyone!

One commenter reminded me of the ever-present "sexual side effects" of most anti-depressants. Fortunately I only ran into that issue once, when my Dr. had me try Zoloft. I think I chronicled the problems I had with that medication here before -- in brief, I experienced anorgasmia (the inability to climax). The fun part about that is that I became easily aroused, but coming was a task of Sisyphean proportions. I use that term deliberately, as it was indeed hellish. Poor Roni enjoyed the first two hours, tolerated a third... and then we gave up. Vibrators, any form of manual manipulation, various toys and alternative stimulation: Nothing.

One of the intriguing things that happened when he weened me off the drug was I flipped 180 degrees -- suddenly I would orgasm at the drop of the hat. No ejaculation was involved: I just had this rather pleasant, shuddering, wave of pleasure, usually when I wasn't erect at all. It made driving from Boulder Creek to San Francisco really interesting in every sense of the word -- as our world famous CHP officers will tell you (usually off the record, if they know you), one of the leading cause of auto accidents, aside from DUI and exhaustion, is orgasm. Important safety tip: Pull over before getting off.

So you're brain like to re-adjust to where it should be, but the trip there is likely to be fraught with surprises. Then I ran into this article in Scientific American, "Strange but True: Less Sleep Means More Dreams":

Nielsen also found that dream intensity increased with REM deprivation. Subjects who were only getting about 25 minutes of REM sleep rated the quality of their dreams between nine and eight on a nine-point scale (one being dull, nine being dynamite).

Of course, REM deprivation, and the subsequent rebound, is common outside the lab. Alcohol and nicotine both repress REM. And blood pressure drugs as well as antidepressants are also well known REM suppressants. (Take away the dreams and, curiously, the depression lifts.) When patients stop the meds, and the vices, they're rewarded with a scary rebound.

The link in the quote goes to a four year old answer in one of those "Ask The Experts" questions that's worth a read as well. The question was "Why Do We Dream?", and the author summarizes:

Thus we consider a possible (though certainly not proven) function of a dream to be weaving new material into the memory system in a way that both reduces emotional arousal and is adaptive in helping us cope with further trauma or stressful events.

Yet the newer article that dreams at at the heart of depression, and removing those dreams relieves the more overt symptoms.

So to review:
  • Depressed people dream.
  • Drugs to relieve the symptoms of depression suppress dreams.
  • Stopping the intake of those drugs dramatically increases dreaming.
  • Suppressing the dreams stops depression.
What are our dreams telling us that leaves us depressed when we awake?
Tags: personal, sleep
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