A Peptide For Your Thoughts – Pressure, Drugs, Alcohol and Depression

Are peptides necessarily bad? Well it depends. Clearly ASADA and WADA have identified their ‘manufacture’ and use as an analogue of steroid hormones, which is fair enough. Science moves on, just as time moves on. Performance-enhancing drugs have stayed a step ahead of the authorities until, well, they haven’t. It all becomes a matter of time.

Interestingly, given the current focus on the illegal use of certain peptides, actually increasing the level of a peptide called hypocretin may well help alleviate mood and alertness, as well as depression. I have no idea whatsoever how ASADA or WADA would treat this, hopefully sympathetically given its role here as a neurotransmitter rather than hormonal growth stimulant. But it does highlight that peptides are not necessarily evil. They are a protein, after all.

Why does this matter?

One of the more pressing and serious issues at a human level is that our stars appear more susceptible than ever before to the pressures involved in performing at an ultra-high level on a consistent basis. It is no surprise that some have resorted to (or have been fed without their knowledge) performance enhancers. Sure there is a lot of money these days to soothe the transition into public figurehead and role model, but money clearly isn’t buying happiness in some high profile cases, of which the NRL is all too aware. And the consequences can be fatal.

The problem expands once alcohol enters the equation. Alcohol is a well known social lubricant that is enjoyed by many, including the Dr. Up to a point. It is also linked to mood problems that can result in depression, which is turning out to be a trap for some of our young stars.

The influx of money that has them being paid like latter day investment bankers is clearly buying some short term joy, but the seedy underside has been quite brutally exposed, especially in players not used to being public figures. In many of these cases, the causality is from alcohol to depression, not the other way around, and is an area where player managers, in particular, need to step up the care and management of their talent. Some do, some don’t, and it’s time to ditch the latter.

While depression can clearly occur without alcohol involved, heavy drinking episodes mixed with the burden of expectations and other personal stress events produce a quite lethal cocktail of depressive symptoms. Unfortunately, this appears to be what has happened to some of our household NRL names, high profile or otherwise, and is a timely reminder to Sharks players under enormous stress – stay off it for now! The good news is that abstinence can lift depression (from this source) within weeks, and without drugs.

As if on cue, it seems Ben Barba will be back within a few weeks. Who knows if that’s true or not, but would be consistent with a depression exacerbated by alcohol.

As a post-script of sorts, I applaud the work of NRL stars visiting schools to try to address bullying. Associating brawny footballers with some level of compassion (not on the field, to be sure!) is an initiative the NRL should cultivate (and publicise better) long term. Decreasing bullying will decrease the emergence of anxiety and depression in many bullied kids in later years.

Want to know more about a potentially lethal disease? Check these out, and have a good day:





5 thoughts on “A Peptide For Your Thoughts – Pressure, Drugs, Alcohol and Depression

  1. I followed your very entertaining “Mickey Arthur” interview over here from “Roar”. Thank you for sharing this material on alcohol and mood. I knew there was an association but not two-way causality ( or so I’d been telling myself), leaving me now with much to think about and, hopefully, do.

    • I’m glad you liked not-Mickey 🙂 I was about to do it anyway when the sackings story broke, so I had some extra fodder!

      As you can see from this blog, it hasn’t quite worked out whether it’s serious or not. I actually hope it stays that way, in the ether between fun and real life. Playing grown up is a necessity, but can be a chore, so I like to embrace my inner child as often as I can. Ask my wife and she’ll say ‘a little too much’. And I was a very naughty child …

      Depression is a very serious matter, however, and can affect the most surprising people. It, and psychology generally, is a area of some interest for me, and because I understand that the disease is far wider spread than people imagine (even for those who haven’t been diagnosed), I provided those links to assist anyone in need. Sometimes knowing where to turn is the kick people need to get back on track.

      I hope you’re ok.

      Dr NRL

      • Thank you for your kind and thoughtful words.

        As you’ve sensed, I too have an (enforced) interest in depression. I apologise if I phrased my comment in a way which perhaps hinted I was in a crisis of some kind – that’s not the case at all. Mostly I was just struck by the fact that help and encouragement can be found in very unexpected places – via a piece of cricket satire written by one “Dr NRL”, no less.

        Best wishes for your blog. Like you, I think it would be a shame to limit it at this point to an either-or proposition.

  2. Well I’m glad to hear that. And I’m equally amazed I have touched someone through this little blog endeavour. I didn’t think I was capable! Thank you for your kind words.

    And Don’t forget your tips! This Thursday thing is throwing my timetable off.

    Dr NRL

  3. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot approximately this, such as you
    wrote the e-book in it or something. I believe that you can do with some % to force the message house a bit, however instead of that, that is excellent blog. An excellent read. I’ll certainly be back.

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