One sentence summary – This study fortifies the theory that the neurotransmitter acetylcholine is involved in the cause of mood disorders, such as depression, schizoaffective disorder and bipolar disorder.
When someone takes the drug physostigmine, the levels of acetylcholine goes up; when this occurs, the increased acetylcholine in the brain has been shown to:
- reduce manic symptoms, such as euphoria and acting without thinking about consequences;
- counteract Ritalin-induced mood symptoms, such as euphoria;
- cause severe depression and a slowing down of thought and movement when "normal" people are intoxicated on cannabis.
In this study, physostigmine caused depressed mood in patients with schizoAFFECTIVE disorder (a disorder with symptoms of BOTH schizophrenia AND either depression or bipolar disorder).
However, in "regular" schizoPHRENIA patients — i.e. patients with ONLY psychotic symptoms — physostigmine did not increase feelings of depression. These findings further suggest that acetylcholine is involved in the cause of mood disorders.
Dr. Kim’s summary seems correct, but I’m just curious about why this was brought up as a question in this forum. Is it the part where physostigmine in "normal" people under the influence of cannabis caused depressive symptoms? Because of the paywall I only read the abstract and introduction, but it noted that similar treatment that elevates acetylcholine in "normal" subjects (no mention of cannabis) has been shown to cause depressive symptoms. This tells me that the article is saying cannabis did not prevent physostigmine induced depression. Sort of interesting, but not clear what the implication is. Patients with depressed mood often find helpful mood moderation with using cannibis, whether or not it protects against elevated acetylcholine levels in the CNS.
Hello Dr. Elkind,
I was also limited by the paywall. But I believe your analysis is spot on:
"This tells me that the article is saying cannabis did not prevent physostigmine induced depression … Patients with depressed mood often find helpful mood moderation with using cannibis, whether or not it protects against elevated acetylcholine levels in the CNS.""
"Sort of interesting, but not clear what the implication is."