As Natasha, Sharonda, and Jenn would know… today we witnessed the view of psychology from the biological point of view. We are all in Advanced Neurobiology together. Speaking for myself, as a psychology major, I was experiencing some difficulty with the articles the professor was assigning because of their heavy biological and neuroscience background that I lack. Jenn and I went to talk to the professor last week and he was open to reading a psychology paper in class. Jenn sent him one on the regeneration of neurons in the hippocampus relating to depression and other mental illnesses.
I read the paper without a problem, much unlike the previous paper where I didn’t know what every other sentence was saying. The class began with a review of neuron repair, regeneration, and neurogenesis. It was very neurological, which I was ok with being that it is a Neurobiology class, but when we got to discussing the paper I experienced something completely different from my psychology classes.
I found the professor was doubtful of the way depression was described and how antidepressants worked. He seemed to be skeptical about the role the brain/hippocampus in mental illnesses. He seemed to believe that antidepressants would lead to tumors in the future and the use of antidepressants would be a thing of the past. I was surprised at this conclusion because I see no empirical evidence supporting the thought that antidepressants will lead to tumors. In a study by Lin Jia and colleagues they found,
“CONCLUSION: Mirtazapine and fluoxetine have no effect on the growth of pancreatic tumor. However, mirtazapine can significantly increase food intake and improve nutrition compared with fluoxetine in a pancreatic cancer mouse model.”
The professor also discussed the fact that maybe neurogenesis isn’t the reason antidepressants are effective but rather antidepressants may affect the ratio of cell death and generation. I feel like I was exposed to the biological view of depression and not the psychological approach or even sociological approach. From a neurological perspective depression seemed to be a less than valid illness. Although there have been huge leaps in progress of discovering the biological source of depression biology doesn’t seem to share this knowledge. Even when the psychology point was brought up in class the professor still didn’t seem to acknowledge the other point of view.
I don’t want to discredit my Advanced Neurobiology professor but I wanted to express how it felt to be a psychology major in a biology class. I felt like I was experiencing the brain vs behavior conflict from the opposite perspective. It was strange because for so long I have experienced the other side of the debate. This real life situation was somewhat comical to me, just because I feel like all the psychology majors sit in one corner and we were vastly outnumbered by biology majors.
Jia, L., Shang, Y., & Li, Y. (2008). Effects of antidepressants on body weight, ethology and tumor growth of human pancreatic carcinoma xenografts in nude mice. World J Gastroenterol, 14(27), 4377-4382.