Check out the AMAZING AAAS Sci on the Fly blog post, ‘The Risky Business of Using Criminalized Drugs as Therapies.’ The post, written by Dr. Samantha White, describes the politics that are holding back research of criminalized drugs as potentially promising therapies for mental disorders (shout out! AAAS S&T Policy Fellow Sam White, who is an expert and former researcher on cocaine addiction). White has no shame in declaring her support for research on criminalized drugs for the sake of science, as well as for patient benefit:
As a neuroscientist, I believe Congress and the public should champion basic, translational, and clinical research on how psychedelic drugs could impact affective disorders, addiction, and PTSD. We lack adequate treatments for these conditions, and similar to chronic pain patients forced to fight for narcotic-based relief, to perpetuate the uneducated belief that criminalized drugs and drug-takers are all bad is to do an extreme disservice to millions of Americans coping with these disorders.
And we can realize that it is no longer 1970, that the levels of depression, PTSD, and addiction have become a public health crisis, and that, instead of shying away from the risky business of prescribing criminalized drugs, we owe it to ourselves to find a solution.
Increasing attention is being paid to mental health problems among undergrads and, to a lesser extent, graduate students, but the prevalence of mental health issues among postdocs remains almost entirely undocumented. There is little doubt, though, that being a postdoc is stressful. Most postdocs work extremely hard, often for long hours and at low pay. Faced with the pressures of work, they may not take time for healthy diversions and exercise, which could help mitigate stress and reduce its health effects. Because of their commitment to work, they often are isolated from close friends and family. … many postdocs find themselves far away from home, profoundly stressed and lonely, with no clue where to go for help.
RIP comedian Robin Williams, whose death is currently being attributed to suicide, likely brought on by his depression. Not only is this a tragedy, but it’s quite depressing- the death of Robin Williams and the state of depression in this country. Apparently 19 million Americans live with depression, and risk factors brought on by depression (such as suicide and alcoholism) can greatly shorten lifespan.
Some people refuse to seek treatment because of a presumed stigma associated with getting treatment for mental health. Getting treatment for a debilitating mental disorder is no reason to feel ashamed. Seeking treatment for depression is no different than seeking treatment for cancer or a broken bone.
Depression can be caused by biological, environmental, and psychological factors, in addition to personal experiences such as divorce or death of a loved one. Depression can be triggered by even by small occurrences.
Many of us may have depression or know someone else that is depressed. There is no shame in that. It’s important to seek help and address the issue. Mental health is no different than physical health, and an illness going unchecked may have dramatic if not fatal consequences.