As Research Advances, Treatment for Depression Keeps Getting Better

Have you ever felt like you were at the bottom of a deep hole with no way out? One of the most characteristic effects of depression, a mental health condition that affects some 22% of Americans, is a feeling of exhausted sadness towards the present and hopelessness that things can or will ever get better. Given our advancements in the fields of psychology and neuroscience, this condition has never been so treatable; so why does it continue to affect so many?

Incredible stigma exists around almost all mental health conditions, and depression is no different. Over centuries a diverse group of thinkers from economists to scientists have all touted theories that would blame the individual for the depression and difficulties they’re experiencing and leave it at that.

But as our own scientific research delves deeper into the causes and treatments for depression, we are beginning to understand how completely some depressive episodes lay outside of the will of the individuals who experience them, and how we can help.

A recent study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry illustrated how even the most severe and lasting depressive episodes can be caused by malfunctioning brain chemistry. Researchers found that by isolating specific metabolic deficiencies determined through an analysis of a patient’s cerebral spinal fluid (CSF), specific metabolic and neurotransmitter deficiencies can be identified and implemented with almost miraculously positive results.

In the case of one patient whose depression was so severe that no previous medical or therapeutic intervention was effective, an analysis and subsequent treatment based off specific neurological deficiencies found in his CSF led to acomplete remission of his depression. Free from the deadweight of hopelessness and feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy, the man in the study enrolled in college and ultimately graduated with honors.

Not everyone who displays symptoms of depression will need such an intensive intervention. As our understanding of depression and compassion for those who live with depression has grown, so too have treatment options increased. While some people with the most severe and chronic forms of depression will find relief in new treatment options like CSF analysis, traditional talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and even the trial-and-error method of identifying helpful medications all have been found to decrease depression symptoms and improve the patient’s overall well-being on a case-by-case basis.

If you or someone you know is grappling with depression, make sure they know they are not alone and that effective treatments are out there. As science and technology continue to advance, so too do our tools to treat and overcome depression continue to get better and better. If an individual is open to trying a wide variety of treatments, a new life is more than possible for those held down by depression. There is something that can be done. Don’t lose hope.