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Posts Tagged ‘antidepressants’

Earlier this year another victim of this stuck-music condition, which is often called “earworms,” contacted me in desperation. Her husband suffers earworms so bad he often bangs his head against the wall in an effort to quiet them. Or maybe it’s an attempt to bash them out of his head. In any case, my heart broke to hear about how terribly they both were suffering because of this maddening phenomenon.

I pulled out my old research and the stories I’ve collected from victims over the years. My intention is to document the phenomenon and then try again to find researchers with the interest, skills and capabilities to take all this accumulated information and test the chemical/hormonal hypothesis, or at least take the research in more helpful (for us) directions.

In an effort to describe in words what the experience is like for those of us being driven mad by the earworms, I recalled a recent vacation roadtrip with my husband in which we listened to several music CDs in the car and at the cabin in the mountains. I won’t even mention the artist whose double-CD ended up playing in my head for weeks (and now months) after the trip.  But since then, my earworms have grown much worse.

If you’ve read my posts, you know that for the past 10 years or so I had effectively silenced my earworms by balancing my hormones (through the use of bio-identical hormones) and taking a supplement that reduces cortisol. But, as the story of our roadtrip reveals, the earworms are coming back, and they are disruptive at times.

Curiously, I’ve also been having issues with my hormones, specifically my estrogen patches, for the past year or more, since my doctor switched me to the generic patches. Whereas the original patches used to last 4 to 6 days, the generic patch wore off within 2 days, sometimes less. Last fall, the doctor approved my use of the brand-name patches again, but even those don’t last as long as they used to.

The hormone problems and the earworms’ return are almost certainly connected.

My current goal is to find and contact researchers who are already interested in this phenomenon. There are quite a few more studies and researchers now than there were some 10 years ago when I began my quest. Unfortunately, none of them seem to be looking at chemical causes. However, I am encouraged because several of the researchers seem to be serious about discovering the cause(s) of the earworms and treatments/techniques to get rid of them. Several papers mention that the authors are looking for testable hypotheses that might shed more light on this phenomenon. Well, I just happen to have one.

So I am about to contact as many researchers as I can find. If any of them agree to study the chemistry of earworms, I would like to connect them with those of you who have this condition…with your permission, of course.

Meanwhile, I wanted to get the word out to all of you and ask you to please send me your earworm stories, if you haven’t already.  If you wish to be anonymous, just let me know and I will pass along only your story, without your name or contact information.

You can contact me by email at hormonebook (at) yahoo (dot) com  Share whatever information you think is relevant.

Please answer the following specific questions if you can:

  1. When did the earworms start? How old were you and what were the circumstances in your life and health at the time they first started?
  2. What exposure have you had to brain-altering drugs (anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, anti-seizure meds) before or during the earworms? Did any drugs stop the earworms?
  3. What effect does stress or emotional excitement (good or bad) have on the earworms?
  4. How “loud” or disruptive are the earworms?
  5. What, if anything, affects the earworms, brings them on/makes them “louder” or makes them fade away? (Actions/”tricks,” foods, supplements, etc.)
  6. What sex are you?
  7. Do you take any hormones? If so specify.
  8. Are you thirsty a lot?
  9. Do you have diabetes?
  10. How long have you had the earworms?
  11. If they come and go, please describe the length of the episodes and describe any circumstances that seem associated with the earworms being on versus off.
  12. Can you control the earworms (turn them on/off)? If yes, please describe how.
  13. Would you be willing to communicate with researchers about your earworm experiences?
  14. Would you be willing to participate in lab studies (brain scans, blood/saliva tests, etc.) investigating earworms?

Thank you all for following my blog and for sharing your experiences. I will do whatever I can to find relief for us all!

As always, wishing you peace and quiet.

Pat

 

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Finally, Life Extension Foundation Magazine’s July 2013 issue is available online with its article about the use of the spice saffron for the treatment of many brain and mood dysfunctions as an alternative to drugs. (If the hyperlink above doesn’t work, you can find it at the path below.)

http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2013/jul2013_A-Safer-Alternative-for-Managing-Depression_01.htm

Let me just say first that I have absolutely NO idea whether saffron will work to quiet the stuck music/AMLs (auditory memory loops). But since the conventional drug treatments for the AMLs we experience have also been known to CAUSE the AMLs, and saffron seems to do good things without bad side effects, this natural solution might be worth trying for our affliction.

Here are a few key reasons that make me think saffron might be worth trying for AMLs:

1.  In human studies, saffron was as effective for mild to moderate depression as Prozac and Tofranil…without the side effects.

2.   In animal studies, saffron was effective in reducing anxiety and OCD behaviors and increasing total sleep time.

3.  In human studies, saffron decreased compulsive, between-meal snacking by 55%.

4.  In human studies, saffron proved as effective as Zoloft for improving mild to moderate Alzheimer’s symptoms without the bad side effects.

5. And by the way, saffron not only doesn’t have the sexual side effects of antidepressant drugs, it can reverse the sexual side effects and improve libido even in people who are still taking the antidepressant drugs.

So my logic is that if saffron works as well as drugs for depression, anxiety and OCD without side effects, perhaps it might calm down whatever is going on in our crazy brains that makes us play music over and over.

If nothing else, if some of us are taking those drugs…either because our doctors have thought the drugs might cure us, or because having this affliction is depressing…maybe we can get off those drugs or at least add saffron to offset the sexual side effects.

I don’t know about you, but for me, loss of sex drive is not not JUST about sex, it is about all forms of passion. If I can’t feel passion for sex, I also can’t feel it for music or books or movies or art or a beautiful sunset.  I’m a writer and without my passions I literally cannot create…I cannot feel.  So this is a big deal to me.  Since several of you with this affliction are musicians, I suspect your passions are similarly critical to who you are, not just what you do.

I have bought 2 bottles of saffron, which amounts to a 2-month supply. Most of the saffron studies showed results in 4 to 8 weeks, so I figured this would give it a fair test. However, I’m not  the best subject for the experiment, since I’ve quieted my AMLs by adjusting my hormones. And with the stupid vertigo still lingering just a bit, I’m not in the mood to go off my hormone regimen to let the AMLs come back right now.

So with all the caveats in the world including–This is for information only. Please consult your doctor before trying anything!!! —I will be interested to see if anyone out there who actively has the AMLs will try saffron and report back to us with your results.

If you do try it, be sure to take the dosages used in the studies. Try not to change anything else during the “study” period. And try to keep a daily log rating your symptoms on some kind of scale to show whether they change at all, in which direction, and how soon.  Then let us know what happened.

I’m not going to get my hopes up just yet, but my feeling is that nature probably offers  everything we need to be healthy.  Granted, not everything “natural” is good for us–nature makes plenty of poisons too. But if we can eat saffron in rice, it’s probably not going to hurt us as a supplement. Though even that rule should be tempered with the reminder that even the most benign things, consumed in excess, can harm or kill us.

So do your homework, check with all the experts you trust, and let us know if you decide to be a guinea pig.

Hope you are all having a safe,  happy and crazy-music-free Fourth of July.

-Pat

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One of these days I will start going back and telling the stories of each of us who have come together over this crazy affliction. For now I want to introduce the two newest members of our unfortunate group.

First there’s BRIAN.

He’s been dealing with the auditory memory loops (AMLs) for 6 years and says they are destroying his life. 

He thinks the AMLs started when he began taking antianxiety medications, mood stabilizers and antidepressants. He is not the first of us who has suspected that brain drugs may have triggered the AMLs.

His working hypothesis is that the Klonopin (benzodiazapine) has depleted his brain of neurotransmitters, especially serotonin, triggering a form of OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder).  If that were the case, though, then anything that replaces serotonin should quiet our brains, and so far I haven’t seen any patterns indicating this it true for those who have tried SSRIs.

However, if the AMLs are related to serotonin depletion, then taking something like the supplement 5-HTP (which is what the tryptophan in meats like turkey breaks down into on its way to producing serotonin) should calm them down.

(BTW, If anybody decides to try the 5-HTP, please let me know what happens.)

For Brian, the only things that seem to help are cycling until his heart rate is very high and watching TV.

His loops seem to run in 3- to 5-second segments, unlike mine, which are usually about 15 seconds.

Our other new friend is MIMI.

She said she almost cried when she found us. I can understand…because there was nobody else out there when I started blogging about the phenomenon. Thankfully, you all have found me and we at least can share our experiences. And that’s what Mimi needed…to know she’s not alone.

Her AMLs started 2 1/2 years ago after having a partial hysterectomy. In most cases that means the uterus was removed but they left the ovaries intact to, ideally, keep them producing hormones. However, as I learned from writing my book about hormones and menopause, in about 50% of cases, the preserved ovaries shut down after surgery as a result of damage to nerves or blood vessels that support the ovaries.

If she is one of the unlucky ones who lost ovarian function after the surgery, then her story parallels mine in that her AMLs seem to have followed a dramatic drop in sex hormone levels.

Although I have my cortisol hypothesis which explains the very different effects of real and fake progesterone on the AMLs, it doesn’t explain why having all our hormones bottom out would have triggered our first episodes.  I now suspect there may also be at least one “protective” hormone whose deficiency makes us more vulnerable to the AMLs.

For Mimi, the AMLs weren’t the only problem she found herself coping with. She also started having major allergic skin reactions like hives. Lab tests showed she has Hashimoto’s disease…an autoimmune condition in which the immune system destroys the thyroid gland. 

I immediately suspected a connection to low progesterone. Progesterone is the first sex hormone we women will be deficient in, especially after 45 or after menopause or hysterectomy. And as it happens, one of progesterone’s major roles is to suppress/modulate the immune system, especially during pregnancy so our immune systems don’t attack our babies. Progesterone also supports the thyroid. So I have suggested that Mimi get her hormones tested and ask about supplementing progesterone.

The catch is that if she needs progesterone to calm down her autoimmune issues, then it is possible (according to my cortisol hypothesis) that the AMLs will get WORSE instead of better…unless we can find that “protective” hormone and raise its levels enough to prevent the music.

If she can’t take natural (bioidentical) progesterone because of the music in her head, then she may need to try synthetic progesterone, which increases the risk of breast cancer. Not a great choice.

She says she has been taking an antihistamine at bedtime for about 3 years, plus Pepcid every afternoon, and wonders if they might have had something to do with the AMLs. Tho I also take antihistamines to help me sleep, I think the more significant factor we have in common is the hormone depletion.

However, let me know if any of you also take antihistamines (like benadryl/diphenhydramine, dramamine, chlorpheniramine, zyrtec/cetirazine, etc.) or over the counter sleep aids (which also use antihistamines to make you sleepy). And if you do, did you start taking them before or after the AMLs started?

Like most of us, Mimi reports that the AMLs are worse when she is stressed. When she’s talking or reading or otherwise occupied, she doesn’t have them…which is fortunate.  She doesn’t have them when she dreams, but on nights when she isn’t dreaming the AMLs seem to fill the void.

Like most of us, she reports that the songs can come from a long time in the past, or may be tunes she just recently heard.

And, as we’ve all come to expect, her doctors don’t really know what to do. She has an appointment with another endocrinologist for her thyroid issues and will take the info from this blog to see if any of it might help the doctor figure this out.

As always, we hope both of new friends find solutions that work and give them the quiet they so desperately seek.

Have a peaceful day,

Pat

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