When I was on antidepressants, I wished I knew why they took so long. Now we might.

For me, the scariest part of taking antidepressants was the purgatory of waiting to see if they worked.

In 2012, I started taking a medicine called bupropion. For about a month, I watched every single thought that came into my head. And it was, if I may be blunt, pretty damn weird.

Am I having a good day because it's one of Seattle's rare sunny winter days? Or is it the drug? If I have a rough day, is it because I've hit a natural, temporary low? Or does this mean I'll have to switch to another medicine (and have to play this game even longer)?


Depression affects about 1 in 5 Americans at some point in their lives, so I know I wasn't alone. But trying to live outside of your own mind — well, it made me feel kind of messed up and very lonely. I felt like I was a stranger, even in my own head.

It was about a month before I could say for sure that the antidepressants were working.

Antidepressants can take a while to work for lots of people, and we're still not entirely sure why.

There are many different types of antidepressants, but the most commonly prescribed kinds, known as SSRIs or SNRIs, can take six to eight weeks to reach their full effect. (Frustratingly, the bad side effects can often happen before the beneficial ones.)

Unfortunately, we don't yet have a complete picture of why that long wait occurs. While we know that antidepressants can work, we're still learning how depression affects the brain and how different antidepressants can change that.

We know, for instance, that some kinds of antidepressants can help boost mood-altering chemicals known as neurotransmitters, but scientists will admit that's not the whole picture.

But new research is helping us find and study new pieces of the puzzle.

Take, for instance, the humble G-protein. It turns out that in depressed people, certain proteins called G-proteins get clumped up in our brain cells. G-proteins are part of big signal-transmitting machines in our cells, and if they clump up, the other parts of the machine can't really get to them. So the signal falters.

A new study suggests that part of what certain antidepressants do is go into the cell and break up these clumps, helping to repair the machinery. It can take a while for the antidepressants to do their job, though, if the G-proteins are really clumped up. This might explain why that purgatory period exists.

The study notes that different antidepressants may have different or even multiple modes of action, so this "anti-clumping" probably isn't the only explanation. But this study does help us learn more about how depression works and might even lead to better therapies or medications one day.

If you're stuck in antidepressant purgatory, there's science behind it, and it's OK to feel frustrated.

It might take a while to find out the best course of treatment for you — maybe antidepressants are the answer, but maybe not. There are other courses of action, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, that work well too. The important thing is to find what works for you.

But if you are trying antidepressants and are stuck in that weird, alienating state, know that it's natural and there's a reason why — and you're not alone.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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Images via Canva and Unsplash

If there's one thing that everyone can agree on, it's that being in a pandemic sucks.

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Much has been made of the mental health impact of the pandemic, which is a good thing. We need to have more open conversations about mental health in general, and with everything so upside down, it's more important now than ever. However, it feels like pandemic mental health conversations have been dominated by people who want to justify anti-lockdown arguments. "We can't let the cure be worse than the disease," people say. Kids' mental health is cited as a reason to open schools, the mental health challenges of financial despair as a reason to keep businesses open, and the mental health impact of social isolation as a reason to ditch social distancing measures.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

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A vintage post-card collector on Flickr who goes by the username Post Man has kindly allowed us to share his wonderful collection of vintage postcards and erotica from the turn of the century. This album is full of exquisite photographs from around the world of a variety of people dressed in beautiful clothing in exotic settings. In an era well before the internet, these photographs would be one of the only ways you could could see how people in other countries looked and dressed.

Take a look at PostMan's gallery of over 90 vintage postcards on Flickr.

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via Budweiser

Budweiser beer, and its low-calorie counterpart, Bud Light, have created some of the most memorable Super Bowl commercials of the past 37 years.

There were the Clydesdales playing football and the poor lost puppy who found its way home because of the helpful horses. Then there were the funny frogs who repeated the brand name, "Bud," "Weis," "Er."

We can't forget the "Wassup?!" ad that premiered in December 1999, spawning the most obnoxious catchphrase of the new millennium.

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