New Depression Treatments Have Researchers Excited


A new surge in research and testing is giving those who suffer from depression new hope after years of stagnation in the field. In fact after the boom in the 1980s and 90s of drug-based therapies like Prozac and the low rates of cure that showed up the 2000s, many drug companies started to pull out of the field altogether since they couldn’t make money on drugs that weren’t working.

Then came the researchers who started looking at totally different approaches including electrical or electromagnetic stimulation of the brain. In one very small study in England, 24 patients with depression ranging from mild to severe received repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS). Eighteen of them – or 75 percent – got completely well and were classed as being in remission. Two more responded to treatment but did not get completely well, and only four – 17 percent – did not respond. U.S. researchers have had similar results. The treatment is painless and non-invasive but pricey at $2,300 per week.

In a simliar, but more invasive approach, researchers in the U.S. implanted pacemaker-like devices that continuously stimulated the brains of severely depressed patients. After two years, the response rate was at 92 percent – and the proportion who were completely well and in remission from their depression was 58 percent.

But perhaps one of the most significant discoveries is that depression is not just a single disease, but rather a range of different disorders that all result in similar symptoms. And make no mistake, this is a global issue. Depression is ranked by the World Health Organization as the leading cause of disability worldwide and affects more than 350 million people.

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    Ryan Brackman 6 years ago

    Must I say that this a great news to those who have this condition and to their families as well. Thumbs up! –

    additional hints 5 years ago

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