The first interview in my new series on mental health and human flourishing.
Thanks for this most interesting discussion. There was no mention of caffeine! More on that below. Also, most people do not supplement sufficient vitamin D3 to attain, in their bloodstream, all year round, at least the 50 ng/mL 125 nmol/L 25-hydroxyvitamin D which their immune system needs to function properly. Please see the research articles cited and discussed at: https://vitamindstopscovid.info/00-evi/ .
For 70 kg 154 lb body weight, without obesity, about 0.125 mg vitamin D3 cholecalciferol per day will attain this level after several months. See the recommended average daily vitamin D3 supplemental intake quantities (more, once every 7 to 10 days is fine, too) recommended by New Jersey based Emeritus Professor of Medicine, Sunil Wimalawansa, 2022: "Rapidly Increasing Serum 25(OH)D Boosts the Immune System, against Infections - Sepsis and COVID-19", https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/14/14/2997 . The amounts of vitamin D3, as ratios of body weight, with higher ratios for those suffering from obesity are summarised in a table: https://vitamindstopscovid.info/00-evi/#sjw-updated-ratios .
25-hydroxvytamin D is needed to supply the intracrine (inside each cell) signaling systems of multiple types of immune cell. The same is true of multiple other types of cell, including those involved in neurodevelopment (lack of vitamin D in-utero increases the risk of autism, mental retardation, bipolar disorder etc: https://vitamindstopscovid.info/00-evi/#3.2 . See also low vitamin D and neurodegneration, Parkinson's disease etc.: https://vitamindstopscovid.info/00-evi/#3.3 So surely proper levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D will at least somewhat reduce the risk of depression and excessive anxiety.
Here are some highlights of the discussion:
12:40 social media - always on-guard. Friend could be taking a photo of you to post on social media. Society of stalkers. Being able to read so much about another person via their social media feed.
25:50 young people don't want to talk by phone - hard to do, negotiating awkward silences - prefer text.
29:00 Active shooter drills in schools: Older children lined up in shooter drill to be human shields for younger children
47:00 Panic attacks
54:00 Face your fears, exposure therapy
57:30 brief mention of EMDR - Eye Movement Desensitization and Reproccessing. This is a somewhat mysterious (in its mechanisms), highly regarded, technique by which an experienced therapist helps people with PTSD. This is closely related to "tapping therapy". It may sound like BS, but I know people who have benefited from this enormously.
58:00 CBT Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
59:30 Dr K's book "Catholic guide to depression" - highly regarded at Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/16238554
Caffeine . . . .
Everyone knows, or should know, that caffeine disrupts sleep. Some peole may use caffeine before bed to reduce caffeine withdrawal overnight, with those withdrawal symptoms disrupting sleep. However, if they use coffee, this has the additional complication that opioid receptor antagonists in coffee of all kinds (decaf or not) are likely to interfere with sleep, including by reducing the activation of opioid receptors in the lower spinal cord centres for the soft-touch activated foot-arch protective reflex response, which increases the risk of restless legs syndrome / periodic limb movement disorder. See Boublik et al. 1983: https://sci-hub.se/10.1038/301246a0, https://aminotheory.com/coffee/ and https://aminotheory.com/rlsd/briefsumm/ .
Some people use alcohol to try to induce sleep, with numerous long-term ill effects including sleep disruption. No-one can afford sleep disruption - its ill effects are so pervasive at every level, 24 hours a day.
Everyone knows, or should know, that caffeine increases tiredness (in general, but this is counteracted by raised adrenaline and the resultant flight-or-flight response for a few hours after use), anxiety, impatience, irritability and nightmares. While caffeine's effects probably vary in magnitude from one person to the next, and while vigorous exercise immediately after use probably burns through it quickly and so results in reduced ill-effects compared to letting the brain be soaked in it for many hours, these ill effects are pervasive and important. Regular users - as is almost always the case with caffeine - don't notice these much because they accept them as an ordinary part of life, though most recognise that they want to avoid the hours of jangliness which follow a large caffeine intake.
(BTW, caffeine is a bitter substance with an unpleasant smell which is noticable in the scalp of regular coffee and tea drinkers. This is my personal observation - I don't know of any research along these lines.)
The best way to perceive these ill effects is to go off caffeine entirely for a few weeks and then start using it again. Already, regular users (all addicts) are gasping at the thought of doing this. (I used caffeine every day for 30 years, thinking that my one or two cups a day of scandalously weak tea was giving me some benefit in focused attention when it most mattered. However, it was making me permanently anxious, with a knot in my stomach occurring when anything even mildly concerning seemed likely. It was also making me tired and causing nightmares, which are now rare.)
The headaches and cravings from even a day of withdrawal are well known - and are simply ill-effects from previous days' caffeine intake. The feeling that caffeine is beneficial, to the point of us not being able to function without it, results from the addictive effect of each ingestion leading to short-term relief of these ill-effects. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6292246/
Considering the extraordinarily high level of use of caffeine in the general population, and the pervasive level of problems with sleep, tiredness, anxiety, RLSD/PLMD, one might think that most doctors would be warning against dependence on this drug, just as they now warn against smoking tobacco. Likewise, one might think that researchers would be keen to get samples of people to go entirely off caffeine for a few months, and then switch them back to their normal usage, which can easily be 200 mg or so a day for adults. However, it would be very hard to find a proper sample of subjects willing to do this - and most doctors and researchers would need to confront their own addiction.
There are research articles which warn about caffeine and PTSD. For instance https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3402/ejpt.v3i0.18805 (2012): "with the growing use of highly caffeinated energy drinks (Reissig, Strain, & Griffiths, Citation2009), it is also important to consider caffeine use among PTSD patients given its anxiogenic effects."