Surviving Anxiety & Depression in Neo-fascist America
by Jon Beilin
During the Roman republic, Cicero wrote in his Tusculan Disputations that “we should make every possible effort to become capable physicians for ourselves.” Two-thousand years later, in the midst of a cruel wanna-be dictatorship that is determined on making the United States’ inadequate healthcare system even less accessible to its citizens, his words carry a new, profoundly literal weight. In context, Cicero was writing about the importance of learning philosophy to cure our own mental illnesses (the emotions of distress and desire), but we now know that, despite the coolness of philosophy, a lot of one’s emotional state is physical.
So, with the disclaimer that I am not a doctor and that you are entirely responsible for your own actions, I would like to present my guide to totally legal and affordable substances that you can take to treat some of your own mental illnesses. For an unfortunately long time, the realm of nootropics has been under the aegis of technocrats and tech bros looking for the magic pill to give them enough merit to consummate their love affair with capitalism plus scared workers trying to maintain an edge in their 30s in an industry that considers 28 a little washed up. Yet it’s absolutely true that substances that aren’t patentable get completely overlooked by the medical industry due to the absence of a profit motive. Today, I declare that we should take back nootropics from smooth-brained racist misogynists like Mike Cernovich (for the record: maybe don’t buy nootropics from someone who can’t pronounce ‘nootropics’).
First of all, let’s make sure we’re taking good holistic care of ourselves. Get at least 30 minutes of activity each day. Do decent cardio at least three times per week. Don’t eat trash. Don’t overload on stimulants and depressants. Sleep enough and on a regular schedule. Meditate. Drink lots of water. Get sunlight. That stuff’s all an important base, but don’t get discouraged if it’s not enough to allow you to convince yourself that doing things other than staring at a wall or aimlessly clicking/tapping around the internet is a good idea: it’s time to start putting foreign substances inside your body.
(Don’t do these all at once; try one at a time and note the effects. Research on the internet to see if combining (“stacking”) particular sets of substances is advisable.)
First up, let’s take care of that ANXIETY. Anxiety often is comorbid with depression and can significantly worsen it. Do you have anxiety? No? What the hell is wrong with you – we’re 25 years off from a Malthusian crisis so let’s start panicking, ok?
Magnesium is an essential nutrient. You need it anyway. It’ll promote restful sleep. A deficiency causes a variety of reactions including ADD, anxiety, and depression. It’s cheap. Take it!
Ashwaganda is an Ayurvedic herb. In the nerdosphere, we refer to it as an “adaptogen” – a compound “that increase[s] resistance to a broad spectrum of harmful factors (stressors) of different physical, chemical and biological natures.” Its mechanism of action is believed to be by reducing cortisol levels. Take 500mg–1000mg with a meal and just wait for that tightness in your chest to comfortably fade away.
L-Theanine is another adaptogen, found naturally in tea. If you’ve ever wondered why tea is a gentler ride than coffee, this is a significant part of the reason why. Unfortunately, if you have anxiety, you probably don’t need more caffeine. Fortunately, plenty of companies have synthesized and isolated L-Theanine. Try taking 100–200mg when you’re feeling wired.
Aniracetam is the first ‘heavy hitter’ on the list. It’s also sliiiightly sketchy. In Europe, it’s a prescription drug used to cure problems with attention and memory in the elderly. In the USA, it’s an unscheduled substance sold on the types of websites that only take bitcoins, and ingested by the sort of people who look to Reddit for advice on how to become more intelligent. However, in addition to being neuroprotective while improving vigilance and recall, it also reduces anxiety without any depressant effects. It’s non-addicting and does not build strong tolerance over time. What a dream!
OK! Did you cure your anxiety? Or hopefully not have any to begin with? Now let’s see what we can do about DEPRESSION.
Again, we’re going to start with nutrition.
Vitamin D3 is good for all sorts of stuff, ranging from encouraging bone mineralization to preventing rickets. Many of us are short on it due to a lack of exposure to sunlight combined with a lack of adequate dietary intake. The funny thing is that if you have too little or way too much, you’ll feel depressed. But if you can get yourself in a healthy range, you’ll be set.
Iodine is necessary for proper thyroid function. If you don’t eat much seafood or dairy (I’m a vegan, so I eat neither), you may be low. Check your multivitamin’s iodine content and supplement with a Lugol’s solution if necessary.
Omega fatty acids are crucial components of some of your favorite body parts, including the brain, cerebral cortex, skin, and retinas. They’re also associated with a lower risk of many of the diseases you’re probably most scared of. Eat them! Eat a lot of them! Get extra DHA.
Vitamin B is used in the body for many things, but B6 and B3 promote serotonin production, and B12 promotes dopamine production. Vitamin B deficiencies are associated with depression. Take your vitamins!
And now for the anti-depressants. WARNING: if you’re already taking any medications that increase serotonin levels or act as an SSRI, DO NOT take either 5-HTP or St. John’s Wort as that can result in Too Much Serotonin, which is potentially lethal. For the same reasons, DO NOT take both 5-HTP and St. John’s Wort.
5-HTP is a precursor to serotonin. Along with Vitamin B6, it gets converted to serotonin. But only as much as you need — excess 5-HTP is excreted. If you’re short on serotonin, this is a good supplement to experiment with since it has remarkably few side-effects.
St. John’s Wort is a beautiful emerald green plant. In addition to its vibrant color and lush blossoms, it is remarkable for its results in meta-analysis of clinical trials of its treatment of depression. It is more effective than placebo, as effective as standard pharmaceuticals, and has fewer side-effects. It is believed to inhibit the re-uptake of several neurochemicals including dopamine and serotonin. Cool!
(There are other substances that I deliberately left off due to the relative lack of research and the not-uncommon horror stories that pop up on the internet.)
There you have it. No insurance? No problem. Be your own guinea pig and you’ll be able to medicate yourself for a few months for $100 or less.
Translated by Margaret Graver ↩
Panossian, A.; Wikman, G.; Wagner, H. (October 1999). “Plant adaptogens. III. Earlier and more recent aspects and concepts on their mode of action” (PDF). Phytomedicine. 6 (4): 287–300. doi:10.1016/S0944–7113(99)80023–3. PMID 10589450. ↩
And if a lethal combination of drugs is what you’re after, this is the wrong article, buddy!!! Good vibes only up in here. You’ll have to wait for the next Dreadzine for my article about beautiful works of art such as the exit bag. ↩