So, those of you who know me, upon coming to this site and finding out that I’ve decided to start publishing on the internet updates of what I’m working on in order to keep in better touch with people know, may have been asking yourself, “What? Did he start taking Prozac?” So funny story…
It starts with a book that Jonathan Haidt wrote years ago called The Happiness Hypothesis. I read the book back about the time it came out and again just a couple of months ago. The thing that stuck with me most after the first reading was the handful of pages he spent on Prozac.
The Happiness Hypothesis as a whole deals with psychology and neurobiology and how we need to align the various different competing biological systems in our bodies to be happy. If this sounds like new age hippy chakra BS, it’s not. The whole book is actually about science and if I wasn’t trying to get to a point, I’d do a more thorough job of laying it out.
In the very beginning of the book (halfway through Chapter 2 for anyone that’s going to check my sources) he talk’s about the three best ways to improve your average level of happiness, meditation, cognitive therapy, and Prozac (or any drug that essentially works like Prozac.)
In the talking about Prozac, he tells the story with his own personal experiment with Prozac. He took it once just to see what it was like. It took about six weeks to kick in, but when it did it completely changed his experience of the world. It was like the lights had finally been turned up on life. However, for him it had the unfortunate side effect of affecting his memory so he couldn’t recall names and such as well. As a teacher this was apparently a problem so he quit taking it. If it wasn’t for that side effect though, he said he’d still be taking it today even though medically speaking he didn’t really need it.
I generally support better living through chemistry, so this has always been something I wanted to try. If someone says it’s that great, I’d like to find out for myself.
Unfortunately, no doctor I’ve ever been to has seen fit to prescribe it to me. I mean I’ve never asked for it. There just seems something a little addicty about asking for drugs a doctor doesn’t volunteer to give you on his own, and whatever the classic symptoms are to get a Prozac prescription it seems I have never displayed while at a doctor’s office.
However, apparently “cosmetic pharmacology” is a thing. This is essentially taking a drug to help you be the person you want to be even if strictly speaking there is no medical need for it. Now, I know there are people out there, like a certain aunt that I have who is probably the only person I know is guaranteed to read this, who have a generally happy demeanor and can’t fathom people wanting to take a drug just to be happier with their life. However, little known fact, we are not actually all created equal and for some people part of that includes biologically being incapable of maintaining high levels of happiness for an extended period of time.
So, again, clearly I’m not depressed or I’d be able to actually get Prozac, but I’m at least curious about what would happen if I did take Prozac. (Some of you may think curiosity is not justification in and of itself for taking a drug. I am not one of those people.) So I did the next best thing. I ate curry powder.
Not really, but sort of. So tumeric is one of the main seasonings in curry. Curcumin appears naturally in relatively high quantities in tumeric. (Relatively means like 2%-4% which is high compared to other substances in which it is found.) In 2013, a study was done that found the effects of taking a 1000mg of curcumin (emphasis on the pure curcumin not the diluted curcumin in tumeric. Tumeric would work too, but you’d need like 33 times as much of it which amounts to about 65 horse pills a day) mixed with 20mg of piperine which is a component in common pepper (the piperine doesn’t actually do anything on it’s own, but it helps your body absorb the curcumin about 10 times more effectively) had a comparable affect in patients to that of Prozac. That was good enough for me. So I tried it.
I started with a Tumeric pill I got at Costco. The dosage in these pills were only 450mg and I threw the bottle away so I don’t actually remember if the dosage was for Tumeric or curcumin. Either way I took it for 45 days and didn’t really notice anything. However, I ordered pure curcumin and piperine from my supplement supplier, packed my own pills which was a learning experience in and of itself, and have been taking 1000mg of curcumin and 40mg of piperine (I doubled the piperine to ensure maximum absorption and both of these powders are dirt cheap in bulk and relatively harmless so why not) for about three weeks now.
Does it make a difference? I don’t know. It’s not supposed to kick in for five to six weeks, but maybe those Costco pills gave me a jump start. I’m publishing this on the internet which is something I probably never would have done before, but then again who honestly knows what I’m going to do at any given moment until I actually do it. I’m also working more writing code and enjoying it more so there is that. However, in the last two months I’ve also dramatically changed my diet, increased my calorie intake which was dangerously low, and added a dozen other supplements to my daily mix all of which could be helping as well.
So, who knows. Science says it should work. If I stop writing this in six months the answer is it probably was just a placebo effect. Either way, if anyone has ever told you that you should really take your happy pills, guess what? They actually do exist, they don’t require a prescription, and you really probably should give them a try.