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Re: Irreversible changes: there's hope

Posted by Anna Laura on December 13, 2001, at 6:39:26

In reply to Irreversible changes, posted by Rakken on December 12, 2001, at 17:40:16

> Lately I've been very concerned about irriversible changes from medications. I don't know if I've taken any meds that have caused permanent change. But I'd like to get all the info I can. I'm worried about agreeing to try a med, and finding later that it causes irreversible change. I heard that some anti-depressants (if not all) cause irreversible changes to the brain. Stuff like MAOI's and Remeron specifically. Makes me think that the SSRI's must do it too. I know antipsychotics can cause some irreversible changes such as "twitches" among other things. And I know benzos can impair memory. But I don't know if that goes back to normal (is reversible) overtime. I hope to be med free one of these days, and I really need some reassurance or info so that I can avoid messing myself up. Sometimes it seems that one med leads to another and another. And diagnosis keeps changing. Meaning more meds.
> Any info on long term irreversible change from meds would be greatly appreciated. Especially stuff on SSRI's, Remeron, MAOI's, benzos, antipsychotics (seroquel, geodon, risperdal,zyprexa), beta-blockers (propranolol), clonidine, stimulants (ritalin, dexedrine, adderall), GABA meds(depakote, neurontin, baclofen), Buspar or anything else I left out.
> And is there any irreversible damage from drug withdrawal? Or from those serotonin/dopamine syndromes (I read somewhere Buspar and SSRI's can cause them sometimes)? And in order for meds to cause irreversible changes, do you have to be on a high dose (how high), or on them for a long time (how long)?
> I know I'm asking a lot of questions, but I've tried finding info in the area numerous times and I never get a clear answer. The whole thing is adding to more and more stress and anxiety. Sorry about the long post. Thanks for anything.


There is room for the brain to recover from anatomical changes in nervous pathways; brain changes induced both from illness, injury or meds don't seem to be so irreversible even though further researches need to be done to find a valid device to reverse eventual injuries or changes of the nervous system.
Besides that, brain grows and regenerates over and over again just like a plant does: this is called neural plasticity (you may do some research on this topic and find out more about it). Until few years ago it was believed brain couldn't grow or rigenerate much after the so-called "critical period" ( its early stages of development). Recent studies showed it's not so as brain showed to have more growing capacity then it was supposed to.
An example: a person who was born blind and gets an eye operation doesn't recuperate the ability to see things until brain cells in the occipital area (that would be the prominent part above the neck which controls image perception, colours, movement etc.) begin to grow and "build up" perception of things as they receive light signals through the eyes.
Of course the question is not so simple as it seems as many other factors may interfere in the regrowth process. Still, there's hope and research is moving forward: new drugs and devices are being studied that could help brain regrowth.
There are some drugs available that have been shown to have anti-degenerative properties, such as Selegiline and Adafrinil.

Here are some excerpts from researches i've made on the net:

"Recovery from injury in the peripheral nervous system may be mediated by regrowth over long distances and the appropriate reconnection of damaged nerves. In the brain, the situation is far more grim, for two reasons: regrowth over any but the shortest of distances after injury is generally abortive or at best extremely modest, and nerve cells that die are generally not replaced. The failure of large scale regrowth after injury to the brain appears to depend in part on signaling from specific growth-inhibitory molecules, and surely an attack on these signals will be part of new efforts to promote CNS regeneration. In the last few years, the promotion of new cell divisions by neurons that had long been thought to be completely post-mitotic has also become an attractive strategy. Either or both of these approaches may in the next few years completely change the prospects for recovery from brain injury."

Adult plasticity and neural regeneration

Activity-dependent neural plasticity is clearly present in the brain during adult life. Indeed, some sort of plasticity must underlie the learning of new facts and skills, and there is much interest in its mechanisms and pharmacology. In many cases, adult plasticity appears to resemble the first stages of the plasticity of the critical period, but without the rapid and substantial anatomical re-arrangements.




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