Friday, June 7, 2013

Future of Depression Treatment - What Lies Ahead?


Today I'm looking into the future of depression, and so far it doesn't look that good.

Depression will become a second major cause of all deaths after a heart disease by 2020, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) prognosis. These days depression affects all ages -toddlers, teenagers, young generation, middle-aged people and our elders.

The symptoms of depression, I truly believe, weaken the whole body, and it becomes a vicious circle: the more you're depressed the more you're ill, the more you're ill - the more you're depressed. In fact, there is some research looking into the connection between the inflammatory disorders (for example, rheumatoid arthritis, hay fever, atherosclerosis) and depression, especially bipolar disorder. The thought is to try and see if immunotherapy will help in both cases.

So, what lies ahead for the future of depression treatment?

- The scientists are researching the gene behind the depression. The idea is simple - to try new medications first and adjust the dose on this gene, instead of going through months of different antidepressants in hope that one of them will work for the patient.

- ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy or shock therapy), which is given to the patients with severe depression. What happens is that you are anesthetised, then electric currents released for 40 seconds into your brain, which causes mini seizures, which in turn help releasing a lot of neurotransmitters into your brain (among those serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline that improve our mood). Of course, there are side effects as well, and one of those like with all seizures is a short memory loss. The researchers now experiment with narrowing the electric waveform to improve the results.

- TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) works a bit like ECT stimulating the release of neurotransmitters into the brain with the help of magnetic impulses similar to those in MRI scan. It still mostly in experimental stage, and I heard that the treatment costs about $ 6,000(!) requiring daily sessions for 4-6 weeks. There are mostly no side effects apart from sense of discomfort and occasional headache. Let's hope with more research the treatment will become more affordable.

- Obviously, the antidepressant drugs are here for a long run as well. There will be more new pills, hopefully with less side effects.

This is all I could find. If anyone knows of more research into the future of depression treatment, please, share.

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