Major depressive disorder, commonly known as clinical depression or just depression, has unfortunately become a ubiquitous mood disorder affecting individuals worldwide. It’s like having a dark rain cloud hovering over you, causing low mood or hopelessness. Scientists are still in the dark about what causes it, but one thing they do know is that treating it is a complex and serious matter. People who suffer from depression need more ways to feel better, and they need them faster!
For over 50 years, scientists have worked tirelessly to improve medications that target a small group of neurotransmitters in the brain – serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine – to regulate nerve cell communication and ultimately improve mood. While most people respond positively to standard antidepressants, a staggering 30% of individuals who try two different types of medication continue to experience symptoms of depression. This is referred to as treatment resistant depression, which poses a significant challenge to researchers and clinicians alike.
Over the last couple of decades, researchers have taken a different approach in tackling major depressive disorder as their understanding of the brain biology responsible for depression has improved. According to Dr. Gerard Sanacora, the head of the Yale Depression Research Program in New Haven, CT, this change in strategy has unlocked a treasure trove of potential drug targets, signifying a momentous revolution in the field of depression treatment.
Faster Outcomes with Novel Medications
There’s an age-old belief that depression takes a while to heal – months, maybe even years. But, hang on tight, folks – new and fast-acting treatments are rocking the field! According to Sanacora, these breakthroughs have kicked depression treatment up a notch, pushing the limits of what we once believed achievable.
One of the most promising new treatments is brexanolone (Zulresso), which was approved by the FDA in 2019. It’s the first drug ever developed specifically for postpartum depression, a severe form of the condition that affects many new mothers. Although experts aren’t sure exactly how it works, brexanolone has been shown to affect the brain’s GABA receptors, which play a key role in regulating mood. The downside? You have to sit in a healthcare facility for 60 hours while it’s administered intravenously. But the payoff could be worth it – by the end of your treatment, your depression symptoms might start to alleviate.
Spravato (Esketamine) is another remarkable drug that hit the market that same year. This prescription nasal spray, a low-dose version of ketamine, is a mood-boosting agent that enhances glutamate activity in your brain. Glutamate’s responsibility is to excite cells in your brain and nervous system. Spravato (Esketamine) not only helps improve your mental health, but it also does wonders for your brain. That’s why some people might see improvements in their depression within hours or days of using it, according to Sanacora.
Spravato (Esketamine) could save the day for individuals with suicidal thoughts or people with treatment-resistant depression.
Advances in Brain Stimulation
Depression can be treated using various methods, not just medications. One of the most effective options is Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), which has been in use for over 70 years.
ECT has undergone refinement over the years, and the latest procedures involve using less energy to achieve the same results without impairing memory or cognitive abilities. Another treatment option is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), which uses magnetic pulses to stimulate the brain and has fewer side effects than ECT.
In TMS, electrical energy is generated by brain tissue in response to stimulation, leading to alterations in the communication patterns between various brain regions. This restructuring of neural circuitry is believed to underlie the effectiveness of transcranial magnetic stimulation in the treatment of depression, although its suitability varies from person to person.
There’s no denying it – depression can be a real downer. But fear not, because the future of treatment is looking bright! One promising option is deep brain stimulation. Electrodes are surgically implanted in your brain to deliver painless electrical pulses that can modify the activity of the brain and alleviate the symptoms you are experiencing. It’s like a pacemaker for your mood! While it’s not yet available to the general public, advancements in technology could make it a reality soon.
Another promising treatment is SAGE-217, a drug that could help prevent serious relapses in those with a history of depression. The key is to take it as soon as symptoms start creeping back in.
And then there’s the buzz around Psilocybin, aka “magic mushrooms.” Studies show they can ease depression just as quickly as Spravato, with potentially longer-lasting effects. Additional research must be done before we can truly appreciate their potential advantages.
After 25 years in the field, experts like Sanacora are brimming with excitement about the potential of these treatments. However, they caution that depression isn’t something that can be easily cured and that we should take steps to protect ourselves from relapses. This might include medication, various types of talk therapy, exercise, socializing, and a healthy sleep routine. With these tools and the promise of new treatments, there’s hope for a brighter future for those struggling with depression.
The advancements in new treatments for Major Depressive Disorder are opening doors to recovery and providing hope for those who have been suffering. From the groundbreaking use of TMS to the newer treatments like Spravato and psychedelic-assisted therapy, there are more options available than ever before. These treatments offer the potential for faster, more effective relief from depression symptoms and a chance for patients to reclaim their lives. As we continue to explore and develop these new treatments, we are moving closer to a future where depression is a quicky treatable condition. The promise of these new treatments is truly exciting and offers a glimpse of a brighter future for those living with Major Depressive Disorder.
At Infinity Treatment Centers of America, we believe in breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health by providing top-notch care and support for treatment resistant depression. With our REMS certification and expert staff, you can focus on your mental health without the hassle of dealing with insurance companies. Our goal is to make your journey towards a brighter future as stress-free as possible.
Get in touch with our team today and let us assist you in achieving your best mental wellness and living your best life.