There are so many reverse perks in mental illness – “reverse perks” being something that you get for free that actually sucks – and now there is one more to add to the list: a shrunken hippocampus. Before you picture a shrunken hippopotamus head, let me explain that the hippocampus, it has been widely reported, decreases in mass in people having depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and the like. The hippocampus affects, among other things, cognition, learning, and memory. These things are super-important for more reasons than could be listed here, and so as those of us with mental illness get older, our hippocampi get smaller – and we experience cognitive deficits, brain fog, short term memory loss, and learning disabilities in addition to our already full plate of crazy. It’s disheartening – particularly because the longer you live with these illnesses, the more (it is hoped) you have learned about how to manage them or at least minimize fallout for yourself, but if you start losing the ability to think, well, it just kind of fucks up everything you might be trying to do. Like survive.
Enter Astaxanthin. It’s an anti-oxidant which is 6,000 (yes, six thousand) times more potent than Vitamin C, which is going to be good for your brain right off the bat because as someone with mental illness you will have more oxidative stress and more free radicals gamboling around in there like they own the joint. So Point One. Point Two is even more heartening: It was recently discovered, as reported by ScienceDaily.com, that mice given astaxanthin for four weeks showed increased neuroplasticity and increased neurogenesis in the hippocampus. Which means that the stuff in their hippocampi (Hippo Camp! Where Hippos go for summer) started to work better, and then NEW stuff started to grow, meaning new brain cells, increasing the hippocampal volume and thus being a great pre-emptive strike, in my opinion, to combat the accelerated entropy that is going on in there, at Camp Hippo, which is what I’m going to be calling my hippocampus from now on. You are welcome to call your own hippocampus Camp Hippo as well, if that is something you would find soothing.
Anyway. I have no idea what dosage is appropriate. Capsules are available in 2, 4, and 12 mg sizes. Due to certain aspects of my personality having to do with impulse control and moderation, I want to go 12 mg. I’ve been taking 4 mg for the past month. Do I notice a difference? I am taking a break from my studies so I can’t speak to the effect it has on my learning, but I do seem to have an improvement in short term memory, which is helping my ADHD because ripples. (Shoot me because I just used “because ____” as an explanation for something. I have become the thing I hate. And don’t you hate when that happens?)
ASTAXANTHIN. Check it out. I recommend it. No one paid me to do so. (Someone, please pay me to do so.) For now, this is a Public Service Announcement.
I’m off to think up a song for Camp Hippo.