This blog is a way of sharing the information and resources that have helped me to recover my son Roo from an Autism Spectrum Disorder. What I have learned is to view our symptoms as the results of underlying biological cause, which can be identified and healed. I say "our symptoms" because I also have a neuro-immune disorder called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.

And, of course, I am not a doctor (although I have been known to impersonate one while doing imaginative play with my son)- this is just our story and information that has been helpful or interesting to us. I hope it is helpful and interesting to you!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Affects of M.E. on the Brain

These are my notes for a short video called ME and the Brain which is done by Prof.  Dr.  K de Meirleir of Vrije Universiteit Brussels   (broadcast April 12, 2013)

What are the most important disturbances within the brain regarding ME?

-Disorders of blood circulation have been observed.  SPECT scans show that some parts of the brain receive reduced blood flow which causes disturbances, such as reduced blood flow within the brain stem.
-Autopsy results show small foci of abnormal tissue, called corpora amylacea, as well as neuroinflammation.
-Excessive levels of white blood cells were found in the cerebrospinal fluid in 25-30% of patients. 
-The HPA axis (Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal Axis) is suppressed (possibly due to a shortage of serotonin in the brain)

What impact do these disturbances have?

-This results in memory problems, especially in short term memory.
-Problems with concentration, which is probably caused by delayed interaction between neurons (demonstrated by a researcher in the US named Natelson who found increased brain activation for certain tasks compared to normal).

What are the psychological characteristics of these disturbances?

-Often signs of atypical depression, which are associated with low cortisol, whereas depression typically involves high cortisol levels.  This may also have to do with low levels of serotonin in the brain.  This may be why SSRIs often worsen depression in these patients.
-Other symptoms are probably die to infections and inflammation, such as behavior changes, including some people who have what he calls "fits of temper" that may be accompanied by loss of control of behavior. 
-In the new International Criteria attention has been paid to the the neurological symptoms as well as the psychological ones.