explainlikeimfive

ELI5: How does your body decide where it takes fat from when you're burning fat?

ELI5: How does your body decide where it takes fat from when you're burning fat?

I feel like this is a dumb question. When you're exercising and burning fat and all that, does your body take energy from around the areas being worked or is it taken evenly from all over your body? A really simple way of stating it I guess is if I work out 1 leg and only 1 leg will I have 1 skinny leg or will it take it burn fat evenly throughout my body.

Edit: for those conversations below, I misspoke. My goal isn't to lose weight. It's simply to get stronger. Thank you all for your well thought out responses and advice! Pour out some liquor for my inbox.

Edit: ignoring everyone who can't shut up about how much I can't leg press.

Significant spot reduction of fat isn't a thing.

There was a 2007 study by University of Connecticut that had people exercise one arm for 12 weeks and measured the fat on both arms before and after the 12 weeks, and showed the fat loss was general over the body. There was also a 1971 study that looked at tennis players (who use one arm a lot more than the other) that found both arms had similar thicknesses of fat.

There has been another study from 2007 that suggest a slight link between heavier exercise and minimal spot reduction, but I haven't read that paper or seen it reported in a scientific magazine so I don't have much confidence in that study as evidence spot reduction works.

Start squatting and deadlifting then. Muscles are use it or lose it; you can't just stop exercising your lower body and hope your legs stay buff.

Thanks. I ask because I want to start working out and losing weight again. I stopped because I moved recently. I don't want to work out my legs because I can already leg press 350 lbs but I want to lose weight down there too.

I know but my problem is when I was working out, I wasn't losing or gaining much weight and then my pants weren't fitting anymore. And I'm too poor to buy more pants.

ELI5: How are counterfeit bills smaller than $20 prevented from entering circulation?

ELI5: How are counterfeit bills smaller than $20 prevented from entering circulation?

I reckon a good counterfeit $10 would go unspotted for a while. How would we know if we are in possession of one?

As soon as you spend it, it's likely going to be deposited into that business's bank account.

Bank money counters spot fake bills even when a person can't.

Most counterfeit bills don't circulate for as long as you would think because of this.

Edit: The money counters I'm referring to are actually machines. We don't employee people just to count money, and even if we did with wouldn't call them money counters.

Wow that's interesting.

But what if someone went to random Walmart's or something and spent a lot of counterfeit money. Don't they store a lot of the cash in the registers to give people change? Wouldn't that give a huge potential for fake money to circulate?

there was a big scam in the 90s that did this at McDonald they would spend a fake 20 on a soda and end up with a lot of real money. they finally got caught because the extremely complex method they used to make the bills didn't get the ink all the way through. if i remember right it was an arcade they used one of the bills at the teller had a nerves habit of ripping the corners off of the bill well she ripped it off saw there wasn't any ink and called the police.

I havent seen it mentioned but on everything except a $1, the president's jacket has a ridge texture on it you can scratch. If you scratch the jacket and it's flat, it's counterfeit.

I got this down to muscle memory working in a gas station in a bad neighborhood, caught a lot of counterfeit $5 and $10 like this, very easily.

Edit: it seems it is on the $1 as well, I must have remembered wrongly or maybe I just never gave it enough effort on a $1

ELI5: Why do human beings just get sad sometimes for no real reason?

ELI5: Why do human beings just get sad sometimes for no real reason?

Mood can be altered by any number of factors ranging from environmental to physiological. Chances are, when mood is altered, it's not actually for "no real reason". Even mild things that you're not consciously aware of will cause your mood to shift either positively or negatively. Hungry but still have to wait an hour for lunch? Now you're grumpy. Weird dream last night? Now the rest of your morning feels off. Something as simple as a television show or song with a certain atmosphere will cause someone's mood to shift. The possibilities are kind of endless.

One thing you have to remember is that mood and overall mental health are controlled by a very complex set of physiological factors. Your nervous system, hormones, and even the bacteria in your gut all work together to create a balance of both "good" and "bad" emotion. So, at any one time, fluctuations in these areas can cause you to experience fluctuations to your emotional state, even if there's no obvious external reason for you to feel differently.

I'm not a neuroscientist or psychologist, so I'd love to see someone provide a more in depth answer in this area. However, I will say that emotions like anger or happiness or disgust (etc etc) all play a very large role in our decision making and motivational processes. This means that we NEED emotion to properly function and make decisions. This includes sadness as well. So, you might even be able to argue that episodes of sadness (even for no real reason), are inevitably needed to keep us functioning.

EDIT: When I say that we need emotions in our motivational or decision making processes, I'm referring to something in psychology called "the somatic marker hypothesis". The hypothesis states that emotional "markers", such as the sweating and rapid heart beat associated with anxiety, help us to make decisions where cognition alone might fail us. The parts of the brain associated with the somatic marker hypothesis are the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the amygdala. When damage to these areas occur (such as in traumatic brain injury) it has been found that individuals are more likely to make risky decisions on gambling tasks. Why? Because they aren't experiencing the same emotional reaction to betting or losing, meaning they are less likely to "learn from their mistakes" because they don't experience or process disappointment or regret in the same way. There are lots of studies done on this using something called the Iowa Gambling Task. That's just one example of how emotions impact decision making. Feelings of fear and regret play a huge role in mitigating risk behaviour alone.

Hey, I can answer this!

Our mood is affected by specific chemicals in the brain: serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, and norepinephrine (and many others, but these are the main ones).

For this explanation, it isn't important to understand what these chemicals do exactly. The only important thing to know is that these chemicals are responsible for many more of our brain's functions than simply our mood.

If you've ever lived in a house with old or poorly installed wiring, you may have noticed that when a large appliance starts up (like a washing machine or refrigerator), the lights in other parts of the house will dim.

This is a good analogy for what's happening in the brain.

How much of each of these chemicals we have (and how they interact), depends on many factors. I won't list them all, that would be impossible. But here are some major ones:

Current diet (could be excellent or terrible) Time of day Current physical fitness (could also be excellent or terrible) External stressors (like loud noise or sitting in an uncomfortable chair) Internal stressors (like exercise and/or illness) Mental stressors (like worries and/or happiness)

When the body is trying to use these chemicals to adapt to changing conditions, sometimes it has to allocate brain chemicals in a way that negatively affect our mood. It can "dim" us, just like those dimming lightbulbs, and we don't know why because we can't feel those other things the brain is using those chemicals for.

Notice that I included both what we would consider "positive" and "negative" influences on our current state of being.

The real bitch of mood disorders caused by chemical imbalance is that the negative mood can sometimes be brought on by being otherwise good to yourself.

If you are experiencing such feelings here are some suggestions, because I've been through it, and I wish someone had told me what I'm about to tell you.

First a disclaimer: I'm not a doctor, this is not medical advice, and if possible you should try to find a therapist that works well with you if your mood is impacting your life in a bad way. I also know that sometimes it's impossible to see a therapist/doctor because of financial (or many other) situations, so here are some techniques that work for me. They may not work for you, but they will at least give you a place to start, and hopefully begin to feel that your mood is something you can control or at least influence instead of the other way around.

Whether you're able to start looking for a therapist right away or not, hopefully you can use these as stop-gap measures until you can find a professional that works well with you:

Take a single deep breath, and remember it's just a ride. I usually go to existential places when I get sad. It helps me to remember that while it may be a shitty ride, it's still just a ride, and however bad I feel, if I can make it through the next minute/hour/day, it's likely to change for the better.

Drink a big glass of water. Dehydration can wreck my mood even if everything else is going great for me. I take a drink, sit still for a bit, and see if I feel better.

A bad mood does not equal a bad person. I was raised to believe that I'm a bad person, and always will be. Even if you weren't raised to be religious, many cultures attribute a moral value to how useful or good we are able to be. A sad mood can wreck my ability to do anything for a while, but that does not make me a bad or ineffective person, it just means I'm a good person who has some hard shit to get through.

Cry. I don't usually have time to feel sad about things the way I'd like to or need to. Sometimes many small events in my life build up to the point where I just need to sob about them for a while.

Eat something. Something healthy if at all possible. A popular saying is "food is the original anti-depressant," and it's true. I try to seek out something healthy to eat, but if there's nothing else around and I need to eat some junk food to make it through the day (a serious problem in Western cultures, but especially the States), that's okay.

If I can't eat healthy, or if I simply over-eat, try eating "one less." A friend once told me that "willpower is a muscle. I have to start small and go easy on myself while I practice." That little comment changed my life. Sadness and obesity go hand-in-hand, like Strong Sad from Homestar Runner prancing along with another Strong Sad (god I hope this isn't a terrible reference). So, when I began my journey of trying to manage my weight, I began by eating and/or drinking one less serving of whatever I was having in a meal: If I usually would drink three sodas, I'd only drink two. If I would usually eat five slices of pizza, I'd only eat four. In that way I very slowly trained myself to simply eat less. Now, this doesn't mean that the food I was eating was necessarily healthier. But. It meant that mentally I had developed a habit that made it much easier to make positive food choices for myself.

Take a shower. Feeling clean helps my mood a lot.

Take a walk. Gretel Ehrlich said "walking is also ambulation of the mind." If I walk at all, I’ve taken a step (several, actually) to improve my condition, and to be healthier. Double bonus. If I walk for 30 minutes, I have successfully exercised for the day. Triple bonus.

Take a dry erase marker, and write a positive thing about myself. This one frankly sounded stupid when I first heard it, but I got so desperate I gave it a try. And it works. I wrote things like "I love me," "I am a good person who wants to do good things," "I am great at __________," "I'm a beautiful person," and many others on my mirror. I'd say them to myself 10 times every time I looked into the mirror. At some point, those sayings became my internal monologue, and I started to feel better about myself.

I'm not trying to preach, and what I posted might not work for you. But I sincerely hope it does. If you are feeling sad and need someone to talk to, please PM me. I always want to help someone who's going through what I've been through.

If you are feeling like you don't want to exist (which one of my friends wryly referred to as being "casually suicidal") the suggestions above might help, but also might not be quite enough to get you to feeling balanced and level. If you need someone(s) to talk to, try /sub/depression and/or /sub/suicidewatch

I really hope this helps. Love you all.

EDIT: Formatting.

EDIT 2: Added a section about "one less." Again, hope this helps. <3

EDIT 3, THE GILDED BUGALOO: ...I really don't know what to say. Thank you all so very much for your words of gratitude and encouragement. All I've ever wanted to do was help people, and today it seems like I did. I'm intensely grateful for you all. Thanks for being here, thanks for being alive. You matter. Even if you don't hear it ever as much as you should, you matter, you're worthwhile.

I can't say it any better than this: "But what I hope most of all is that you understand what I mean when I tell you that, even though I do not know you, and even though I may never meet you, laugh with you, cry with you, or kiss you, I love you. With all my heart, I love you."

<3

BA in Developmental Psychology here, so I'm sure an expert may be able to explain it in more depth but here's what I remember from college.

"Happiness" is a feeling derived from a combination of neurotransmitters in the brain: serotonin, dopamine, noradrenaline, and sometimes oxytocin.

People may know that dopamine is the big one people talk about, where for example in game design designers know how to structure a level and the rewards you get so that you're getting a little "dopamine hit" that keeps you playing.

So, as you're going through a day, say a really good day where you wake up with your loved one, have an awesome breakfast, you rock your job that day, or maybe it's a day off, regardless it's an awesome day, or for some folks maybe even just an average day. Your brain is producing dopamine, and receiving it. Neurotransmitters travel from axons in your brain, to dendrites, where I like to think of axons as a driveway, and a dendrite is where you park at the end of it (there's actually a little gap between the two physically but I digress). So you create dopamine, receive it within a dendrite and after a while it gets spent. After a while of being pretty happy, you'll have exhausted the dendrites ability to receive dopamine (as it gets "spent" it creates gunk that gets in the way...this is where an expert could define his better).

So naturally, after receiving dopamine for so long you simply won't be able to for a little while, which is where sleep comes in but that's a whole other topic.

A good example is drug use, where cocaine will spike up your dopamine levels for a while and exhaust your dendrites faster, so you get a big happy for a while, then crash.

As people have said already it's partially environmental and partially physiological because all sorts of factors can change your brain chemistry. Naturally your brain goes through ebbs and flows of various neurotransmitters and sometimes, you're happy, and sometimes you're just down.

I hope that was a decent explanation!

Thanks for the kind words everyone. It was most likely me falling behind on sleep cause I got off of a three day vacation and messed up my sleep schedule. I appreciate the kind words though.

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ELI5: Why are flowers attractive to humans even if we might not get any reward (fruit, nectar) from them?

ELI5: Why are flowers attractive to humans even if we might not get any reward (fruit, nectar) from them?

This doesn't address the philosophical perception of beauty, but primates' ability to see them in three colors is special, in the world of mammals:

Today, most mammals possess dichromatic vision, corresponding to protanopia red–green color blindness. They can thus see violet, blue, green and yellow light, but cannot see ultraviolet, and deep red light.[4][5] This was probably a feature of the first mammalian ancestors, which were likely small, nocturnal, and burrowing.

...

Primates have re-developed trichromatic color vision since that time, by the mechanism of gene duplication, being under unusually high evolutionary pressure to develop color vision better than the mammalian standard. Ability to perceive red[7] and orange hues allows tree-dwelling primates to discern them from green. This is particularly important for primates in the detection of red and orange fruit, as well as nutrient-rich new foliage, in which the red and orange carotenoids have not yet been masked by chlorophyll.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_color_vision

Being able to see red made ripe fruits stand out visibly from unripened fruit, and from the green background foliage. I'm sure this influences our ability to appreciate flowers and their vivid contrast to green.

Hi- I am a master florist and I teach floral design in a formal curriculum.

Flowers and greenery were initially introduced as a ceremonial reward. A crown of greenery, for instance was given to an athlete for completing a monumental task which reflected his prowess.

Floral crowns were bestowed on maidens to accentuate and highlight their youth during courting ceremonies.

Bouquets were carried by brides to mask any unpleasant smells when hygiene was not important, and also to give the bride something to hold on to. Some have noted that this may represent a phallic meaning, but it was probably just to keep her from calm and to keep her hands still.

Funeral flowers also masked any smells and also deflected from staring at a corpse, i.e. Lighten the mood.

Large arrangements were displayed to indicate wealth.

The Victorian era introduced giving flowers as a gift as the flowers had different meanings. For instance, roses for love, hydrangea for gratitude, baby's breath for innocence...

These all evolved into a cryptological messaging system that delivered a message in a discrete way, gentile way.

That being said, the floral business is dying. People see flowers as a ridiculous expenditure but I'm really trying hard on my end to share my skills and knowledge with anyone who is interested.

Great question, by the way!

Because we are attracted to beauty! Beauty is its own reward.

The human brain is a pattern matcher. It likes to find patterns and symmetries, and patterns within patterns. Neat and tidy ratios and harmoniously varying repetitions are the building blocks of all patterns, and you can find them in a flower as you can in a person's face (though music is queen as a source of such patterns, since it's very building blocks are notes and rhythms of whole number ratios).

(Which makes me think - the bee has a brain and eyes, why should it not be a pattern matcher too? Possibly the bee is also attracted to the flower because of it's beauty, and the nectar is partly incidental!)

I think healthy flowers indicate that the area (in nature) is a healthy area and relatively safe (fertile ground, no snow, no extreme heat, decent amount of water, etc)

[ELI5] What's happening when you take a pill, but it feels like it's caught in the back of your throat?

[ELI5] What's happening when you take a pill, but it feels like it's caught in the back of your throat?

A few possibilities.

The pill actually is lodged. Fairly uncommon but some people have difficulties swallowing pills.

The pill rubbed/scratched against the back of your throat and you're feeling that, not the pill.

Psychosomatic. There's no pill but the thought/idea/fear of the pill getting lodged is causing the sensation.

Pills get lodged in valleculae of the throat, people aren't imagining it at all. For example here - http://www.healthcaremagic.com/search/pill-stuck-in-valleculae

It's a totally different feeling to a pill going down uncomfortably. It doesn't go down. You know it's stuck and you can't dislodge it with water. It's happened to me twice because I'm a lazy bastard and I take pills dry like some kind of pathetic hard man who thinks he knows better than everyone else.

Anyway it's not nice, and depending on what's in the tablet you might not want it anywhere near your throat. I've managed to dislodge them with food before.

ALWAYS DRINK A GLASS OF WATER WHEN SWALLOWING PILLS!!! I learned my lesson the hard way a few years ago and ended up in the E.R.

The pill had chemically corroded away 75% of my esophagus walls, the gastroenterologist on staff at the time said that in his 20 years of being there as a doctor, he had never seen that much damage from a small pill!

The only thing that tipped me off that I fucked up was that 2 days prior I dry-swallowed a pill and it felt like it had gotten "stuck". So I drank a glass of water not even 10 minutes after swallowing the pill. Still felt stuck. Oh well, it should just dissolve or drop later. Then started to hurt. Then felt like someone was stabbing me in my throat. Then it hurt so much that I couldn't even swallow water without feeling like someone was twisting a butter knife into my sternum.

Hi! So im a PA working in interventiona' radiology and fluoroscopy. I do barium swallow studies on people with this complaint everyday! More often than not the pill is actually delayed or stuck in the lower esophagus and the sensation is referred upwards from there! rarely is it ever actually caught in the upper portion.

ELI5: Why do antidepressants cause suicidal idealization?

ELI5: Why do antidepressants cause suicidal idealization?

Just saw a TV commercial for a prescription antidepressant, and they warned that one of the side effects was suicidal ideation.

Why? More importantly, isn't that extremely counterintuitive to what they're supposed to prevent? Why was a drug with that kind of risk allowed on the market?

Thanks for the info

Edit: I mean "ideation" (well, my spell check says that's not a word, but everyone here says otherwise, spell check is going to have to deal with it). Thanks for the correction.

It's "suicidal ideation," the medical term for "suicidal thoughts."

Basically, if you have depression, you have three sets of symptoms: (1) your "primary psychological" ones, aka "the ones in your head," like negative thoughts (feelings of sadness, hopelessness, shame, etc), (2) your "physiological" symptoms, "the ones in your body," like low energy, aches and pains, fatigue, etc, and then (3) a set of "secondary psychological" symptoms that kind of come along for the ride, like feelings of apathy or lack of motivation or interest in activities.

Suicidal ideation falls in the first category - basically "bad thoughts." The danger with antidepressants is that for some people, the medicine will improve the second and third categories before it improves the first. So you will start physically feeling better and more motivated, but your mood is still low and you have negative thoughts. Also, for some people, especially if they have been depressed for a long time or if their depression was triggered by a traumatic event (death of a loved one, an accident, etc), an antidepressant alone might not be enough to counter the bad thoughts. Often you need to "retrain your brain" to learn how to not let yourself dwell and how to think more positively; this is why counseling or therapy is also a treatment for depression.

Basically, a medicine can change how your brain works but it's harder to change what you think about. And if you suddenly start feeling more energy and motivation but still think you are worthless and life is hopeless and all that, now you have someone who maybe thinks about or wishes they would die and actually has the physical strength and focus to take action.

Story time: When I was in the worst depressive episode of my life, I thought about dying, but I never wanted to kill myself. It was more "everyone would be better off if I were dead because I am so pathetic." Now, the thing about suicide is, it seems that oftentimes it is an impulsive decision. When electric stoves were introduced in the U.K., the suicide rate dropped because people couldn't kill themselves easily with gas ovens anymore, but the numbers for other methods didn't rise, suggesting if it were more difficult, less people would do it. Likewise, putting up guardrails on bridges that prevent jumpers has reduced overall suicide rates. I also recall seeing a study that said that the vast majority of people who attempt suicide and fail never try again. So I see suicide not so much as a conscious decision of a rational mind (though it can be, for instance for the terminally ill) but as an impulse, a reflex almost, caused by depression the same way a cold makes you cough. So although I had no desire to kill myself, and was very aware of how painful that would have been for my family, I can definitely see how someone in the depths of that darkness could actually conclude that death would be preferable to carrying on with such a "broken" mind, and how suddenly having energy and a desire to "do something" could allow that person to act on their twisted thoughts. I mean, feeling physically better could even make the bad thoughts worse because it reinforces that "it's all in your head," you start thinking what if there's nothing physically wrong with me, I'm worthless, I will never be happy, etc. Honestly, it terrifies me to think of suicide that way, but those are the conclusions I've drawn, and it makes me stay much more "aware" of my mood and be more open with my loved ones when I do feel down so they know to keep an eye on me. If you know someone who is depressed, they probably don't want to tell you if they are having those thoughts because they know it upsets people, but tell them you want to hear it and need them to help you protect them. You gotta work together, no one can battle depression alone.

Sorry for the soapbox, saw a couple clinical answers and thought you might appreciate a more personal take.

tl;dr: Antidepressants are unpredictable and affect everyone in different ways. If your body feels better but you still have bad thoughts, you are better able to act on them. That's why antidepressants carry that warning.

I've been depressed and at times suicidal for the past eleven years, since I was 8. The self harm started a year later. The thing is, my first attempt on my life was in the fifth grade. Of course, being my incredibly logical fifth grade self, I ended up using a belt that broke. And again with the child logic, this told me only that I couldn't even kill myself right. I sank further and further into the throes of depression over the next three years before finally deciding to try again. This time, I thought, I'll do it right. So, I downed an entire bottle of pain pills and waited for the inevitable. Of course, my stomach didn't agree with this train of thought, and after about an hour or two, decided to reject my plan by completely turning itself inside out. My parents were alerted to the problem by my uncontrollable vomiting, and upon seeing the pills in the toilet immediately rushed me to the hospital. At the hospital, they pumped something into me that made me regurgitate every meal I'd eaten in the past ten years. Have you ever felt your organs start to shut down? I gotta tell you, it's the worst pain I'd ever felt in my life. There's very little that anyone else can do to me that I haven't already done to myself- cutting, burning, branding, beating, poisoning, and now even killing. This pain was beyond any of that combined. I'm not quite sure if they were affecting my kidneys or my liver, since it's been quite some time since this incident, but I remember lying in a hospital bed begging them to let me die, just to make that pain stop. Keep in mind, I was a very melodramatic teenager, and everything felt like the end of the world to me at that point.

Not long after this, I started on Prozac. Prozac is an SSRI that regulates your neurotransmitters, particularly serotonin. The first thing I noticed was the numbness. All those bad thoughts were fading, but at this point I had been so depressed for so long that there wasn't much left of me when you took that away. Or rather, there was but it was buried so deep down that I didn't know how to access it at that point in time. After a solid year of numbness, my personality started to come back. The music I listened to shifted from depressed emo to raucous punk, to classic rock, psychedelic rock, pop punk- things that made me feel something. I started to read again. (As a kid I was an avid reader, and during the worst of my depression I started to lose that). I started spending time outside, and even made my first friends since elementary school (when your parents basically make your friends for you). I started wearing colors again, finding empowerment in rusty reds and olive greens, (not together of course), and began to form my own identity separate from the depression and the emo phase.

The real change though came early tenth grade when I simply decided I didn't want to feel that way anymore. Of course, things are never so simple as just a declaration. I had to work for it, doing an intensive outpatient program and group therapy. Slowly but surely though, I started to work through the issues I had suppressed and made my first steps to recovery. I probably wouldn't have been capable of taking that first step without the antidepressants. They cleared my mind of this dark fog enough to let me claw my way back into the light. These days, the suicidal ideation is still there. A part of me thinks it always will be. I've got the note on standby, along with a list of methods including the statistic likelihood of success, as well as the pros and cons of each method. The urge to kill myself probably comes maybe once every other month, lasts for about eight hours, and then fades again. I've learned to recognize the symptoms when I show them, how the meds affect my serotonin reuptake, how my own thoughts can spiral down into this pattern of self loathing and self destruction, and how to stop that spiral before it gets out of control.

The biggest change I had to make, though, was the decision not to live for myself. I had no self worth, and as such didn't see a reason to live just for me. By changing that to refusing to hurt the people I hold dear to me in that way, and by dedicating my life to supporting others and seeing as much of the world as possible in the process, I've come to a point where no matter how much I want to die, I can't. I can't hurt the people I love like that, or end things before I've helped- and hopefully even saved- as many people as humanly possible.

I don't think I would have been capable of coming this far without the antidepressants to clear that fog of apathy away. I'm not even sure that I would have been able to take that first step without them.

Fast forward to today. I've come so far, finding a solid group of friends that are basically family at this point. I've built my support system from the ground up. These days, I am a living testament to the statement that IT GETS BETTER. It takes time, effort, and rarely gets better when you first start expecting it to, but it will get better. It might be halfway through high school, when you make your first real friends. It might be in college, when you can get away from your family. It might not be for another ten years, when you meet the love of your life. Maybe, one day you'll be traveling and come across a sight so profound or beautiful that it brings you to tears, and you want to fall to your knees in gratitude. Things do get better, even if not immediately or even quickly for that matter.

Nothing is worth taking your life over.

Nothing.

You have so much to live for- flowers you've never smelled, songs yet to be written, countries you haven't yet traveled to, books you haven't read, instruments you've never played, bands you haven't seen live, art you haven't yet created, stories you haven't yet told, people you haven't made smile. You never know just how much you'll be missing. Even if at the time it might seem pointless to wait for such trivial things, it's these things that make life worth living.

Suicide is never beautiful. Suicide is never easy. Suicide is an ugly act that rips someone precious away from those that care for them. It will always hurt, it will always be the wrong choice.

Take the steps towards recovery, make a conscious decision to battle this monster inside you, and take charge of your life. If I could do it after fighting a losing battle for ten years, so can you.

None of the comments here seem to address the lag effect of how SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors e.g. Prozac, Zoloft) actually work and why mood gets worse in the first 2 weeks after starting an SSRI

Neurons (brain nerve cells) release serotonin into the synapse (gap between two nerve cells) and the next neuron reacts to that. That's a basic signal transmission from one neuron to the next in (certain parts of) the brain and low serotonin levels here is closely linked with depression. The amount of serotonin released depends on the signal moving along the neuron as well as the neuron's autoregulation which is based on the amount of serotonin already in the synapse. 

Here's a basic diagram of a synapse http://institute.progress.im/sites/default/files/styles/content_full/public/depression_-_moa_of_ssris.jpg?itok=bt7Fr77R 

When you start an SSRI, you inhibit the reuptake of serotonin from the synapse, which means the serotonin level in the synapse remains high after a signal. This is good, and this is the aim of SSRIs. However, high serotonin levels mean that the autoreceptors on the pre-synaptic neuron tell the neuron that serotonin levels are good and you don't need to release any more. This is bad, and drives serotonin release down. 

Eventually after ~2 weeks, the increased base level of serotonin in the synapse after a signal as a result of the reuptake inhibition causes the auto-regulators to involute (be absorbed back into the neuron/stop being expressed on the surface) because they are being activated too often. This means the auto-inhibition falls, and serotonin levels rise properly and reach a "normal" level of functioning again

The 2 week lag period where auto-inhibition is high, before the auto-regulators can involute causes reduced serotonin levels and in some people can worsen symptoms of depression. This should be and is often not explained when people are started on SSRI anti-depressants 

Hopefully this reply won't be buried/missed by OP I know I got here pretty late sorry my bad

Source: final year medical student

Edit: as u/earf pointed out below, the auto-regulatory receptors (5-HT1A) are in the somatodendritic (start of the neuron) area of the pre-synaptic neuron. SSRIs increase the level of serotonin in this area (at the receptor area of the neuron). The increased level of serotonin in this area slowly (as the receptors turn over and get renewed) cause a decrease in the number of 5-HT1A receptors. These receptors normally inhibit the amount of serotonin released (from the end of the neuron), so as they are reduced, the amount of serotonin release at the other end of the neuron goes up. This slow decrease in the number of inhibitory auto-regulatory receptors (at the start of the neuron) is what causes the lag effect

None of the comments here seem to address the lag effect of how SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors e.g. Prozac, Zoloft) actually work and why mood gets worse in the first 2 weeks after starting an SSRI

Neurons (brain nerve cells) release serotonin into the synapse (gap between two nerve cells) and the next neuron reacts to that. That's a basic signal transmission from one neuron to the next in (certain parts of) the brain and low serotonin levels here is closely linked with depression. The amount of serotonin released depends on the signal moving along the neuron as well as the neuron's autoregulation which is based on the amount of serotonin already in the synapse.

Here's a basic diagram of a synapse

When you start an SSRI, you inhibit the reuptake of serotonin from the synapse, which means the serotonin level in the synapse remains high after a signal. This is good, and this is the aim of SSRIs. However, high serotonin levels mean that the autoreceptors on the pre-synaptic neuron tell the neuron that serotonin levels are good and you don't need to release any more. This is bad, and drives serotonin release down.

Eventually after ~2 weeks, the increased base level of serotonin in the synapse after a signal as a result of the reuptake inhibition causes the auto-regulators to involute (be absorbed back into the neuron/stop being expressed on the surface) because they are being activated too often. This means the auto-inhibition falls, and serotonin levels rise properly and reach a "normal" level of functioning again

The 2 week lag period where auto-inhibition is high, before the auto-regulators can involute causes reduced serotonin levels and in some people can worsen symptoms of depression. This should be and is often not explained when people are started on SSRI anti-depressants

Hopefully this reply won't be buried/missed by OP I know I got here pretty late sorry my bad

Source: final year medical student

Edit: as u/earf pointed out below, the auto-regulatory receptors (5-HT1A) are in the somatodendritic (start of the neuron) area of the pre-synaptic neuron. SSRIs increase the level of serotonin in this area (at the receptor area of the neuron). The increased level of serotonin in this area slowly (as the receptors turn over and get renewed) cause a decrease in the number of 5-HT1A receptors. These receptors normally inhibit the amount of serotonin released (from the end of the neuron), so as they are reduced, the amount of serotonin release at the other end of the neuron goes up. This slow decrease in the number of inhibitory auto-regulatory receptors (at the start of the neuron) is what causes the lag effect

I'm a psychiatrist and I'm seeing some great responses here, but thought I'd still add a bit of info. For my reply, consider antidepressants synonymous with SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors such as Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, etc.) or SNRIs (Effexor, Cymbalta, Pristiq, etc.). This is my basic spiel to folks starting a new antidepressant.

In general, they don't cause suicidal thoughts and depressed people treated with SSRIs are less likely to commit suicide than depressed people not taking SSRIs1. The studies that led to the "black box warnings" which is what people often refer to when talking about increased suicidal thoughts where a bit flawed and subsequent studies have been reassuring with regards to suicide and antidepressant usage. The warning is for children and adults 24 years old and younger.

Briefly, the studies that showed increased suicidal thoughts in children showed an increase from ~2% in placebo to ~4% in treatment with a couple of SSRIs (which is significant). There was no increase in suicide attempts, only thoughts. And the studies were done on children that met criteria for severe depressive episodes and were hospitalized. So, quite a different population than people that typically go to their primary care doc or psychiatrist for for antidepressants. There are many theories on why these studies showed increase in suicidal thoughts. The ones that I tend to believe are that 1) one of the first benefits from SSRIs are increased motivation and energy. This occurs before improved mood. Imagine someone so depressed and sad and overcome by lack of energy and motivation that the person stays in bed all day doing as close to nothing as possible. The person starts taking an antidepressant and while the depression and sadness remain, her/his energy and motivation increases and s/he thinks of ways to reduce suffering and suicidal thoughts or thoughts of escape may arise.

2) A phrase a patient told me about starting treatment with antidepressants is "it gets a little bit worse before it gets a lot better." Some people feel an increase in anxiety and restlessness very soon after starting an antidepressant. Insomnia is one of the most common side effects of antidepressants (and placebos as well). Feeling more anxious, restless and not being able to sleep may also contribute to thoughts of escape, suicide or self harm. There is also evidence that the body/brain releases an increase in an anxiety producing chemical during the first few days of treatment with an SSRI.

3) Antidepressants have a delayed onset of action. This means it may take 4-12 weeks before benefits are seen. Imagine the hesitancy that most people have about talking to a therapist, or psychiatrists...let alone taking mental health medications. Now imagine someone has overcome their hesitation, stigma and reservations, asked her/his PCP for a referral to a therapist, spoken to the therapist, realized medications were indicated, obtained a referral to a psychiatrist (who prescribes the antidepressant), starts taking an antidepressant, experiences side effects and...feels absolutely no better or possibly worse after 1-2 weeks of the medication. There may be some understandable feelings of hopelessness that arise which could contribute to suicidal thoughts regardless of the action of the medications.

I've been practicing for 10 years and I can think of very few examples of people complaining of increased suicidal thoughts directly related to starting a medication. Often, they are brief and I've never treated someone who acted on these thoughts...out of thousands of patients. The worst that I hear is something akin to "oh man, that stuff was awful, I felt like I couldn't sit still and was thinking about just how great it would be to die. So, I stopped taking it." The meds don't turn you into a mindless zombie. It's important to have respect for any medication that's taken, but (from my experience) antidepressants don't cause people to significantly think about killing themselves or act without control or insight into what they're doing. If there truly was a chemical that would consistently cause people to want to kill themselves, I'm sure the military would have exploited it by now.

ELI5: how are we able to consciously read while zoning out at the same time?

ELI5: how are we able to consciously read while zoning out at the same time?

You could be reading a book but then your mind starts to wander off about something completely different as you are reading each word and come to find that at the end of the page, you didn't take in anything you read.

Every action you can do is done with the coordination of multiple parts of your brain. Your eyes, in particular, connect to many different parts themselves.

To read, you must track the text, interpret the symbols, interpret the words and grammar, consolidate that into meaning, and store that meaning. The part that tracks the text and controls your eye movements involves your muscles in a way that takes very little conscious effort. If you get distracted and that part of your brain doesn't get the order to stop reading, it will just keep going even if the other parts of your brain get interrupted.

Every part of your brain can only do one task at a time. Each part can do a different task, but they have to work together for complex tasks.

So my PhD was kind of around this area. Can't give a clean answer, but can talk a bit about what might be happening in the brain.

First thing to know - this is largely based on experiments using a method for looking at what's going on in the brain called fMRI. Exactly what it does is beyond an ELI5 explanation (might be able to write one if anyone is interested), but you can use it to crudely figure out how hard areas of the brain are working at different points in time. Let's say that we have recorded this data for when someone is relaxing vs when they are reading a book.

There's a set of brain regions referred to as the "Default Network". They seem to be doing more work specifically during awake relaxation than during reading, or any other mental task.

Folks have suggested that this might mean the default network is responsible for what's referred to as ‘undirected thought’ - in this example, let's call it ‘mind wandering’. Mind wandering tends to be thinking about yourself, recent memories, future plans etc.

This isn't the only explanation of what the default network does. It could also, for example, be making sure you're aware of what's going on around you - important for survival in a world that can be dangerous - but there are reasons to believe it is related to mind wandering based on evidence that I'd have to dig out my thesis to remember (being a bad scientist here, but I'm super lazy).

There's another set of brain regions that seem to be working harder during reading, or performing any other mental task, than during relaxation - let's call it the task network (it doesn't have a sexy name as far as I know).

The interesting thing about these networks is that they seem to exist in balance - if one is doing more work, the other is doing less. When you start doing something - reading, mental arithmetic etc - the task network starts working harder, and the default network chills out a bit. Vice versa when you finish what you're doing.

There's evidence that the point where you lose focus coincides with a shift in the balance between the networks, and the default network becomes dominant.

The interesting question then becomes why these changes in the balance happen, and this is not settled to my knowledge. All of this evidence doesn't tell us the why, but it does give us a potential starting point for some interesting research.

I realise that this doesn't explain why the task of reading continues despite the mind having wandered. I was all about the brain data, need an attention specialist to address that.

Caveat for the above - definitely a controversial area, so none of the above is intended to be presented as fact.

All of this is based on the research that was available up to a few years back, as I'm not in brain research any more this might be horribly dated now (anyone with more up to date knowledge feel free to call me out, appreciate references though).

Further reading: not aware of any really good non-technical summaries of this stuff, but I think Raichle who published the original work and named the Default Network wrote a good review article around 2011 if you're feeling brave.

(wrote this after coming back from the pub, may clean up tomorrow if the urge takes me, but see above re: lazy)

This works with counting too. I worked at a warehouse and frequently had to grab 10, 12, 46, 207 or whatever annoying number the customer ordered of small lug nuts. I was up to 8 out of 30 and I zoned out and started thinking about random things, mind wandering. When I came back to Earth I found myself on number 22 and counting. I was kind of in disbelief so I recounted and it was actually correct!

This happens to me when I'm listening to podcasts too. I'll be listening intently when I'm on my commute on the train, then as soon as I have to get up and start walking - slightly concentrating on avoiding obstacles or whatever, I'll find I've missed the last 2 minutes of the podcast out of nowhere.

ELI5: Why are the craters on the moon circular, when impacts at various angles would create elliptical craters?

ELI5: Why are the craters on the moon circular, when impacts at various angles would create elliptical craters?

What a great question! I didn't know five minutes ago, but from a bit of googling it sounds like the energy involved in a crater impact is more like a bomb going off than a ball splatting into dust. So your usual intuition for how impacts happen doesn't really apply. Imagine lobbing a stick of lit dynamite at an angle, and it explodes the instant it hits the ground. The damage from the explosion expands out in a circle, and the fact that it was traveling at an angle doesn't really change how that explosion happens. Of course a meteorite isn't dynamite, but it's traveling so fast that it pulverizes into a circular explosion of hot expanding gas on impact, and that gas is what causes the crater.

Hey, if you're just out throwing mud balls, you're just kid playing with mud. But if you bring a pen and paper and write down the results, you're doing science!

So the speed of impact turns any object into an explosive basically?

That's right. It's called a high speed impact when the kinetic energy of the object is greater than the chemical energy that binds the object together, causing it to explode.

Intercontinental ballistic missiles travel fast enough to cause a high speed impact, which is why those missiles only ever carry nuclear bombs. The speed of the missile gives it more kinetic energy than any conventional bomb would ever have, making it pointless to even fit a bomb onto it. Nukes on the other hand, operate on a much higher energy level, higher than the kinetic energy of the missile.

ELI5:How does your social security number contain so much information about you?

ELI5:How does your social security number contain so much information about you?

There are dozens of different databases, both public and private, that can tell you a lot about a person just by their social security number. They almost always have to have your permission to run your number through the database(s) that they choose, but you’d be amazed at how much of your information is out there. The reason they use your SSN is because it’s a unique identifier to you if you are a U.S. resident. There may be people with the exact same name, even in the same household (think Jr./Sr.) but everyone has a unique SSN.

The databases themselves work by collecting information from many different sources. Often, a business can get access to the chosen database if they agree to share customer information with the database. In some cases, say a small apartment complex, they may have to pay a one-time fee to pull the information they have on you. And believe me, they have information on you no matter how hard you try to stay off the grid.

Essentially, there are 3 major databases (and hundreds of smaller ones) where businesses can get your information: Lexis Nexis, ChexSystems, and your credit reports.

Lexis Nexis is the big one. Just about anyone short of a mortgage broker will pull from LN. Why you might ask? Because they have just about everything. Thanks to the U.S. FACTA legislation, you can request to see everything they have on you. You can do so from LexisNexis here. You might end up browning your trousers, especially if you’ve been using the internet since Kindergarten.

ChexSystems is used by around 90% of banks in the U.S. They primarily look at the status of your bank accounts. They want to see if you’ve overdrawn accounts at other banks, bounced checks, etc. When you go to open a new bank account, chances are they’ll run you through this system. Once again, thank FACTA for this, but you can see your ChexSystems information here.

Credit card companies and anyone looking to give you a loan will pull your credit score or your credit report. Your credit report comes from Experian, Equifax, or Transunion. They each have their own database but they are all going to look pretty close to the same. AnnualCreditReport is where you can get a copy of all 3 of your credit reports.

Usually, the credit card companies or lenders won’t care much about the report itself, but about your credit score. FICO is the company that most places will use for a credit score but they’ve dodged FACTA requirements by not collecting any consumer information. They use information from the above 3 companies to compile a score based on their own algorithm. Since they don’t report information like open credit card accounts, collections, etc., they don’t have to give out your credit score for free.

However, there are companies that will give you a free credit score, using the same information, which usually results in pretty close to, if not the exact same, number.

Credit Sesame - Been around the longest but is the least known of the 3, nice interface, shows your credit score and report, sends alerts if there is something new on your credit.

Discover - Shows your credit score based off of Experian.

Credit Karma - Most well known, tax software was buggy but still nice to use.

All of them show your credit score while Credit Sesame and Credit Karma will send you an email when your credit changes. It doesn't hurt your score when you check it, only when others do.

There is big money to be made in gathering and distributing your financial background. One thing that works in the consumer’s favor is that any of the above companies can only report negative things about you for up to 7 years, unless you have a bankruptcy or tax lien (10 years), or student loan default (forever if not paid, 7 years after last negative action). If you check your credit report, you won’t see a late credit card payment from 2005, but if you check your LexisNexis report, you will see the house you grew up in. One item is negative, the other isn’t.

CGP grey did a video on this.

I don't think there'll be a better ELI5 explanation. It's only 8 minutes, but I'll give you a summary anyways.

Basically, it's the only form of national ID we have, so nation-wide companies (such as credit companies) use it as the de-facto way of having a single way to identify citizens. Pretty much everyone that wanted a way to track US Citizens across multiple states now uses Social Security Numbers.

The problem is, there's absolutely zero security built into it. It was never meant to be a form of ID, so when it was created they didn't include any protections at all.

The very insecure SSN is a consequence of the US population (and politicians) resisting the efforts to create national IDs.

The SSN was originally intended for one purpose: tracking a worker’s lifetime earnings in order to calculate retirement benefits after age 65. The SSA even added the disclaimer "FOR SOCIAL SECURITY PURPOSES NOT FOR IDENTIFICATION" to the card in 1946.

Many years ago the IRS allowed tax payer to declare how many dependents they had to earn a deductions. This was an honor system that obviously was abused. The INS then started to only accept dependents that had a SSN.

Parents then started to request SSN cards for children when they are born instead of when they started working (the original design). That increases the chances someone can guess your SSN based on your place and date of birth.

Without any other form of national ID and now with most (if not all) US citizens having a federal provided identification, SSN became the defacto standard ID. From there banks, creditors, health care providers, etc. all started tracking you by your SSN.

That's actually a VERY BAD thing because

1- The SSN card is just a piece of paper, not a proper ID 2- The system was never designed to contain so much private, financial and health data 3- By combining so many ID's, it create huge risks for everyone

The populace should just get over it national ID issue. This paranoia people have with the federal government tracking them is silly (people should learn about this obscure not well know agency called NSA).

IIRC: Social security number was never actually intended to be a form of identification. The IRS just needed a number that could represent someone uniquely so they picked the social security number that was already there. The social security number I think was initially focused on depression era welfare and only expanded into identification territory because it was easier than tracking people by name.

CGP Gray has a pretty good explanation others have linked to.

/u/celticeejit made a comment that compares the social security number to a primary key in an relational database, which I thought was good but was criticised by someone else for being too programmer heavy.

Basically, when you have a lot of data about something in a list of things, you want a specific identifier to refer to that object. e.g if you have two John Smiths, how are you supposed to tell them apart? You could refer to specific unique features about John Smith, like age or hair color or what school they went to, but it's much easier to refer to both John Smith's as 1 and 2 then it is to refer to them as John Smith with the red hair or John Smith with the gray hair. Especially if one of them has a kid also named John Smith. It's generally good form not to have a bunch of little details to identify something, when you can use a single tag/key/serial code. Also you want a form of identification to remain static so that even if little details change, the object as a whole can still be understood. For instance if Greg decides he now wants to be called Marsha Brady and has surgery to reflect this, He or She would still have the same social security number no matter who they are now.

A primary key ensures that no matter how much info might be shared (or similar) by two objects, they can still be referred to individually in a database. E.g when you need to get your computer or phone replaced, your manufacturer could know which phone they are fixing, whose phone it is, and the warranty status based on the serial number, even if it looks like every other phone. That might not be the actual primary key in their database, but it's the serial number may be the code they use to keep track of the warranty and other details.

Social Security number (despite the fact that it's insecure) is basically used as a one sized fits all identifier, or "primary key" because there's not really any other identifier that could be universally used. Not everyone has a driver's license, and some people aren't old enough to have voting IDs, but they probably have a social security number if they're a citizen.

tl'dr Even though it shouldn't be, The social security number is basically a serial number for people.

Edit: Here's a SSA provided page about how Social Security numbers are calculated.

https://www.ssa.gov/history/ssn/geocard.html

ELi5: What is exactly happening when our bodies feel a "wave" of dread/anxiety?

ELi5: What is exactly happening when our bodies feel a "wave" of dread/anxiety?

It's a primitive response to danger. Your body releases large amounts of adrenaline and triggers your fight or flight. Everyone will usually feel this in different symptoms. Some people get tingles in their feet, others get a really fast head rush, palpitations, etc. But basically your heart rate will elevate to pump blood to where ever it feels it needs to go in order to help you escape your situation and your breathing quickens to get that good sweet oxygen inside you and even you muscles will tense.

The feelings of dread or impending doom usually come before, not after the attack, and usually have to do with trauma or deep seated fears. Once you've had a triggered response, your brain will interpret other similar responses, and put you in full panic mode. Sometimes it doesn't even need to be that similar to a previous experience, but your brain will just assume it so. Remember that one time you felt sick after eating seafood on that really long car ride? Well now maybe just eating and being in a moving vehicle triggers your anxiety.

It's very common for people who have anxiety to also have obsession disorders, and it's a cyclical thinking that will continuously trigger the attacks. Can't sleep, but you know you need to, makes you anxious. Anxiety than in turn keeps you from sleeping. But you know you need to sleep, big day tomorrow. But you keep thinking about trying to sleep, more anxiety.

There doesn't even need to be external trigger either. There is a lot of evidence for people who are very sensitive and in tune with their bodies to get frequent attacks. There are lots of studies that the gut may have something to do with anxiety attacks. For example, having acid reflux, or bad gut flora.

Mostly though, everyone gets some sort of anxiety at some point in their life. The people that seem to get it the worst, and often enough to be a disorder, seem to be those more sensitive to internal/external factors, and those who have constant obsessive or obtrusive thoughts, in which case it really needs to be taken seriously and the person should be assisted.

EDIT: words. Thank you.

EDIT2: Been through it myself, and done a lot of research. For the people asking what you do in situations like this, people have mentioned them down below; mediation, but mostly just breathing. Focus on your breathing. As hard as it may seem sometimes because you have so much going on in your head, go back to your breathing and continue to focus on it until your body calms itself down. Like I mean really focus on it. Feel it go in and out of your body, take really deep breaths. 4 seconds in and 4 seconds out. It's a life saver.

EDIT3: Hey everyone, just remember you're not alone in this and it's nothing to be ashamed or scared of. Find something that works for you and make yourself better!

EDIT 4: Thanks for the reddit gold kind stranger! I hope this post is informative and helping others out!

The feeling of dread spreading through the body is the sudden release of cortisol/epinephrine (your stress hormones) in response to something you want to avoid. Its your body's way of alerting you shit is about to go down and to get you prepared for survival mode.

We are very advanced beings, capable of responding to innumerable stimuli, we are not aware of most of our responses to said stimuli.

Also, they can be both external or internal. Anything from a soft gust of wind that lightly caressed some hairs on the back of your neck, perhaps a random thought that you didn't even pay attention to, or perhaps Rhahadonx the one who preys is behind you in his astral form ready to devour your soul. (just kidding).

Basically, something you were not aware of, triggered a surge of adrenaline/epinephrine and other hormones (cortisol?), preparing your fight or flight reflex; However since you are not aware of the cause you are filled with dread/anxiety. You know an attack is coming, but you don't know from where, or when.

Look behind you, NOW!

The stomach drop? That's the feeling of your body diverting blood from digestion to your mover muscles, literally prepping you for the ol' fight-or-flight.

Try one of these subthreads