GABA, Ethanol, and Me.

GABA, or Gamma-Aminobutyric acid, is an important neurotransmitter and regulatory molecule in the mammalian nervous and developmental systems. GABA has many kinds of agonists, the most famous (probably) being ethanol.  When ethanol is ingested, it inhibits certain areas of the brain, normally associated with pleasure and reward seeking, motor planning and learning, and decision making and thinking.

GABA usually works to inhibit neural activity in the brain, and under normal conditions, GABA molecules bind to GABA-receptors in various cells for this purpose. It just so happens that ethanol is a GABA agonist (i.e. it “competes” with GABA or “mimics it”) – and binds to GABA-receptors, causing greater inhibition.

My condition is mainly characterized by an incontrollable urge to re-evaluate and re-analyze future scenarios, further and further until I literally mentally exhaust myself, causing elevated anxiety levels. This is probably associated with the unusually poor mood I’m in after most “over-exercises” typical for this “quasi-OCD” like condition.

So far, I’ve been diagnosed (separately and exclusively at each occasion) with depression, GAD, PTSD and OCD. There’s a positive correlation between depression, anxiety, OCD and alcohol abuse either way.

Ethanol does something rather interesting, it mimics GABA by inhibiting these areas in the brain, chemically forcing me, for instance, to stop thinking so damn much (or at least, to find it more difficult and less rewarding). At the same time, ethanol leads to more greatly animated movement and more inhibited decision-making (and since decision-making obsession is the crux of my problem, you could see why I’d be so attracted to booze).

I usually ingest ethanol on a daily basis, though I do not, however, ingest large levels of alcohol on a daily basis. Alcohol abuse (that is, extremely excessive drinking, to the point of unconciousness and severe ataxia) has been a part of my life during my “PTSD-days” (in which extreme panic attack-related convulsions would “push me” towards extreme benzodiazepine and alcohol abuse).

A daily ritual is also Kung-Fu and Karate exercises and meditation, and, usually, a strict and well-balanced diet. I say “usually” since my current antidepressant (Efexor) greatly reduced my appetite, meaning that I’ve been undernourished for several weeks.

The first step in my treatment should be the reduction of alcohol-consumption and the termination of my psychological dependency on it (I say “psychological” since I’m probably not, in “medical terms”, an alcoholic. I would have to drink a lot more to be that, and I also possess no “withdrawal” symptoms when I “skip” a daily drink, not even mildly).

It is, however, gratifying to learn, on way of suicide attempts, terrible departures into depression and anxiety, and self-mutilating practices. The mind and body are two amazing aspects of the universe, and I’m sure that by learning all we can, using the scientific method, we can alleviate pandemics like depression and anxiety-disorders.

Wish me luck.


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