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Book:"Overloaded: how every aspect of your life is influenced by your brain chemicals", 2021, Ginny Smith.

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS discussion' started by Creekside, May 19, 2023.

  1. Creekside

    Creekside Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    There's so much disinformation published about ME, that it was a nice surprise to see a book about brain chemicals that pointed out that there's a difference between normal fatigue and fatigue-like symptoms that arise from chemicals in the brain. That was followed by the author saying that she had gotten a virus which left her 'drained of energy', which led to a diagnosis of post-viral fatigue syndrome, which was later upgraded to ME, which she still suffers from.

    The book, that I found at a small-town library, so it's not targeted at PhDs, is: "Overloaded: how every aspect of your life is influenced by your brain chemicals", by Ginny Smith. That was the only mention of ME, but it seems like a decent explanation of how various chemicals affect how our brains function (or malfunction). I haven't read it through carefully (brainfog), but did notice some interesting tidbits. The first thing was about dopamine:

    "In every moment of our day, we are predicting what will happen next, based on our past experiences. We aren't experiencing the world as it really is, but based on those expectations."

    I take that as support for not trusting that "feeling weak" is a guarantee that our muscles really aren't capable of proper exertion. Our minds could just be playing tricks on our perceptions. Researchers who are muscle or mitochondrial experts will be happy to accept patient's claims that their muscles are weak, but that doesn't mean that it's true. Muscles should be tested (electrostimulation?) apart from the neurological aspects which complicate the results.

    There's a section on sleep, and other mentions of serotonin. It points out that how SSRIs work is still a mystery, and it's not as simple as 'more serotonin". I seem to recall some people with ME trying to boost their serotonin levels to improve sleep or help with ME symptoms. However, this book points out that serotonin has different effects in different parts of the brain. In one part in aids sleep, in another part is counters sleep. So, boosting serotonin in general may not give the expected simplistic results.

    I also noticed a couple of mentions of the importance of glial cells to brain function. Astrocytes have the ability to control circadian rhythms even without neurons present. I'm guessing that there are some old researchers who still hold to their early knowledge that "glial cells are just supporting neurons".

    Anyway, I thought it was a book worth mentioning.
    oldtimer, Amw66 and MeSci like this.
  2. MeSci

    MeSci Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Cornwall, UK
    Amw66 and Hutan like this.
  3. Hutan

    Hutan Moderator Staff Member

    Aotearoa New Zealand
    I haven't read the book; it might be fine. Her website says that she makes podcasts for the British Psychological Society.

    Neural dysregulation in post-COVID fatigue 2023 Baker et al
    This recent study found no evidence to support the idea that ME/CFS-type fatigue is the result of the brain making incorrect predictions.

    There is no evidence that SSRIs work in ME/CFS.
    DokaGirl, MeSci, shak8 and 3 others like this.

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