Modafinil for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
I do not suffer depression any more. Depression is a combination of:
Invalid attribution. So, identifying various natural and expected phenomena, such as fatigue, sadness, hunger etc. as “depression”. This actually forms a subset of the following:
Unskilful thought and emotional processes. So this includes the whole range of unskilful (often unconscious) acts, such as taking a feeling of sadness and projecting it forward into your entire future via unrealistic thoughts (“It’s hopeless!” script). Or taking tiredness, assuming it’s depression, then cycling through your “Depression” script (which can contain elements of the latter). Also, positive feedback loops concerning any of the processes mentioned so far.
This category of “unskilful” also includes not being able to find equanimity with emotions such as sadness. You “should” be able to experience sadness without it becoming a “terminal” script. So if you hear a tear-jerking song in a sensitive moment on your own, you should be able to shed a tear without that invoking attached thoughts of inferiority, “gayness” or whatever. Additionally, you should be able to “dig out” really old emotions during meditation and have them bubble up and express (and release) and have the mindfulness to sit on that process and let it unfold without going down any attached thoughts or terminal scripts.
I use the word “should” very lightly, however. It took me around 6 years of mindfulness meditation to even begin to get a handle on all this stuff. I will be writing some basic guides for depression and meditation soon to hopefully help you cut that time right down.
All of the above ideas are discussed in much more detail here: How I Beat Depression — Forever
All of this said, I am still slave to my cycling, seasonal Neanderthal genes.
That means, when this time of year rolls around — the days are getting shorter, and the temperature colder — I tend to lose energy and motivation, and want to do very little except eat and sleep.
I used to experience this as full-blown depression, but, having untangled that web of invalid attribution and perceptual knots described above, I now just experience this time of year exactly as I just said: tiredness; hibernation mode. Rest, peace, sleep. 🙂
Modafinil for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
I reasoned that, since this time of year is just a sleep cycle, the narcolepsy pill modafinil might have some use here. I had some lying around, so broke off and took 100mg (half a standard 200mg pill) this morning.
All I can say is, WOW.
This stuff might just be the miracle drug for SAD. In less than 2 hours after taking it, I was completely alive. Too alive, in fact (it has some strong dopaminergic effects, e.g. jaw-clenching). I would say even 50mg is enough for my purposes (meaning a pack of 30 could literally last all season!). Drinking a coffee just re-potentiates this drug x10 — so you can effectively just “top it up” with coffee all day, should you feel it start to wane.
I had some success with modafinil for general depression back when I used to experience “manic–depressive” cycling. My view now on the matter is this: If you have mastered the perceptual side of “depression”, as described in the introduction to this post, then you are left with just the tiredness/lack of energy/loss of motivation aspect which is a natural part of your genetic make-up. If this is the case — and that’s a very big “if” — then modafinil could be ideal for lifting that energy level.
Modafinil and OCD
Modafinil is used as a nootropic by non-narcoleptics, as it increases focus. I believe using modafinil, if you have OCD, would most likely make your OCD even more out of control. I mention this mainly because OCD, in my opinion, is another Neanderthal condition, and we will see it frequently co-occur with bipolar, SAD etc.
OCD, in my opinion, is an issue whereby the left brain (the “zoom in/focus on/analyse something” brain) gets “stuck” on unhelpful objects, giving rise to cycling, obsessive thoughts about that object (and an “object” in this sense could be a person, emotion, situation, actual physical object in the case of compulsive tidying — anything the mind can turn into a “concept”).
My advice to OCD sufferers is to get a passion to which they can put that obsession to good use. No great project was ever achieved without some element of obsession. For example, watching me spend 12 hours non-stop composing an orchestral piece might look “OCD” but, since it produces something inherently satisfying for myself (and potentially others), and is part of my own self-determined mission, it could be considered a good use of my time. Cleaning the fridge 37 times or obsessing about some boy or girl for 6 hours is probably not a good use of your time. But this is a topic for another post.
Modafinil, in my estimation, creates OCD tendencies in non-OCD people. Since they’re using modafinil to help themselves complete specific tasks, this can work wonderfully — hence its success as a “nootropic”. However, those with OCD tendencies already would likely find their OCD processes turbocharged out of all control. For example, I am already obsessive about shoulder stretches, since I am so so close to finally stretching out all that crumpled fascia from 20 years of computer abuse. I already get “lost” in that task without modafinil. With modafinil, however, I can get lost in that and not even realize I’m lost in it. Time can simply “disappear” in that respect — and this is something commonly observed amongst many modafinil users, with some reporting “accidentally” spending 6 hours staying up playing chess online. It literally happens.
OCD (and modafinil, since it’s an OCD simulator) is like carrying the world’s most powerful handgun. When it goes off, you’d better be pointing it at the right target.
Modafinil — A “Second Generation” Drug
I consider modafinil to be one of the only “genuine” drugs around — for anything. I will briefly illustrate the way I’m thinking about this, as it’s something I’m only recently thinking about.
Serotonin pills are, for any condition they are prescribed, essentially: shit.
I know I talked about potential loopholes for making them work here, but the reality is I got off venlafaxine pretty damn quick after writing that post. I also believe the phenibut itself (a real contender for the ranking of “second generation drug”!) would have sufficed.
Also, consider how shit Parkinson’s treatments are. The logic goes like this: “Well, Parkinson’s kills dopamine neurons, so circulating dopamine is less effective. So we need drugs that raise dopamine.” (As a side note, I believe we should instead be looking at a) finding and reversing the epigenetic (it is almost certainly epigenetic!) trigger for this cell death and b) reversing the cell death by regrowing those neurons via neuron growth chemicals such as BDNF. But I really don’t know enough about it to go into any more depth at this stage.)
The same logic goes for serotonin pills for depression: “Well, depressed people have less serotonin, so we need drugs that raise serotonin.” But I believe less serotonin is just a periphery marker of the neurological processes (and their outcomes) involved in depression, rather than being anywhere near the core of what’s going on. Dopamine is, in my opinion, a lot more important, and I will talk about why I think that is (and what to do about it) in my “Basic Depression” guide, due in a few weeks.
Both serotonin pills and Parkinson’s drugs are both examples of “smoke not fire” drugs: wafting the smoke out of the window of a burning building so you can breathe, while ignoring the fire. In this new classification system I am devising (read: making up as I go along, right now), both these kinds of drugs are therefore “first generation drugs.” Smoke-not-fire drugs.
Modafinil however seems, to me, to be something different. It really gets into the nuts and bolts of fatigue, and obliterates it, without creating much tolerance or problematic side effects, or even withdrawal (I once took 200mg a day for about 2 months and came off with no difficulty whatsoever). Try saying the same about serotonin pills!! Or traditional psychostimulants, e.g. amphetamine. Antidepressants and psychostimulants all work on the monoamine family of neurochemicals (serotonin/dopamine/norepinephrine). This family, when manipulated with drugs, has a colourful history of severe side effects, tolerance and withdrawal. Every stimulant and antidepressant created over the last 50 years has basically been a copy of a copy. “Second generation” drugs need to get off the monoamine family because targeting it directly doesn’t work. Dopamine is important, and modafinil appears to modulate dopamine indirectly. I think that’s the way it should be when it comes to the monoamines: indirect modulation.
Nobody really knows how modafinil works. It works on a whole bunch of receptors, and I reckon they’ll literally have to discover new receptors to really pin it down. This is how it will be for “second generation” drugs: they’ll be discovered by accident, and nobody will really how they work for a long time afterward. Then, once that’s figured out, we’ll end up with copies of copies, as is already happening with “armodafinil”.
Modafinil, in my opinion, is also one of the only genuine and useful “nootropics” available on the market. I’ve tried around 20 nootropics, and modafinil and phenibut are the only ones that did anything for me in terms of being able to apply myself more intelligently to tasks.
Phenibut is perhaps a “generation 1.5 drug”. I do not believe the hype about withdrawal: I once took 1.5g per day for a couple of months and also came off that with no problem. I believe it has nootropic effects we do not yet fully understand — these involve the visual system and memory, but I cannot say any more than that at this stage. Its anxiety-busting effects in the short term are second to none. However, tolerance does indeed develop in this regard, and fairly quickly too. Still, going after GABA-B seems to have “next generation” (fire) effects that monoamine (smoke) drugs like antidepressants do not.
Modafinil and phenibut, when I took them together, gave one of the most profound “glows” I have ever experienced in all my crazy drug experiments. I literally felt smarter, and that was the exact moment I created this new website and started turning my life around. Obviously I make no guarantees about that happening for anyone else. Additionally, that “glow” did wane after about two months, so I moved onto something else, as I often do. Still, there is something special there. 🙂
I would like to say we will be seeing more of these drugs appear soon, but I have my doubts: Western civilization has already basically collapsed, and Big Pharma has little interest in making you well. If we do see new drugs, we will see them coming out of the East, e.g. Russia and China. I have a good feeling about Russia in particular, for kicking the West’s ass with phenibut for anxiety and as a sleep aid, and for noopept just because it’s an interesting drug to me for a few reasons I won’t go into now. Importantly, they got these drugs out and approved for use by their people quickly, instead of wrapping them up in red tape for shadowy financial agendas like the FDA and its counterpart agencies in other Western countries like to do. Both these drugs, and most drugs which actually “do” anything, are still unapproved as medicines in the West — so they’re either “supplements”, “off-label”, illegal, or whatever. I’ve seen my stepfather’s Parkinson’s treatment completely hindered by the UK’s inability to get the racetams, other novel dementia drugs and even melatonin (until this year!) approved in time. Truly maddening.
This was supposed to be a quick post about modafinil for SAD. Due to being on modafinil while writing it, it ended up taking over 2 hours and wound down tangential paths like a runaway stream!
Be careful where you point that handgun. 😉