Major depressive disorder (MDD) isn’t correlated solely sadness. It’s a chronic condition of the brain that paralyzes its victims with ruminating thoughts of suicide and death, endless feelings of worthiness and guilt, obstructs the ability to concentrate, increases loss of energy in things once enjoyable, as well as a catalog of other incapacitating conditions that relentlessly take over the life of its host.
Depression is a common, debilitating, often complex and difficult to treat depressive brain illness that is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.
With more than 15 million men, woman and child suffering from depression in the United States, decades of research into the treatment of depression have greatly improved. But still, more than half of clinically depressed patients fail to respond to their doctor’s prescription of medication—with still no way to determine which (if or any) treatment works best with a patient’s brain chemistry.
“Wonder drugs” manufactured in the 80s like Prozac, Seroxat, Zoloft and Celexa and other in the class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) displayed historical signs of improvement, but still failed to beneficially support a significant percentage of the MDD population.
Commonly, MDD patients will move from one alterative to the next with mixed results, which can escalate feelings of hopelessness and instigate chronic feelings of sadness. However, as clinical research continues to advance each day, doctors are discovering alternative methods of treatment that have shown tremendous results in patients.
Take a look at these two scientific breakthroughs in MDD clinical treatment that are making strides in the fight to end this encumbering disease of the brain:
First developed in 1962, ketamine was widely and successfully used as an anesthetic to treat injured soldiers during the Vietnam War.
Unjustly suffering from a stigma of being a party drug, ketamine is still one of the most widely practiced drugs in modern medicine; however, thanks in large part to the World Health Organization’s endorsement of ketamine medicinal practice, deeming it as one of modern medicine “essential medicines” doctors are free to explore (“off label”) how ketamine benefits patients suffering from depression.
In a matter of hours, ketamine encouraged adversaries by showing immediate (almost instantaneous) signs of MDD relief among numerous trials. “It became clear to me that the future of psychiatry was going to include ketamine or derivatives of ketamine,” says David Feifel, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, who began administering the drug to patients in 2010.
Ketamine treatment for depression is a complex process that works with brain receptors and chemicals to improve functionality. Chronic pain, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia and severe mood disorders, such as Bi Polar Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder are just a few of the symptoms ketamine improves.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
Under anesthesia, electrodes are placed onto the scalp of the patient in which small electric currents pass through the brain, which intentionally induces a small seizure. Electroconvulsive therapy was first tested in the 60s, but failed to prove to government officials as a safe (and painless) method to treat MDD.
As the only legal form of shock therapy in psychiatry, ECT is mainly used in Europe and in the United States today as physicians use these electro-magnetic waves to painlessly activate an area of the brain largely associated with mood. Doctors believe that by instigating seizure-like activity, the brain naturally “rewires” itself to alleviate symptoms by connecting defective neurons.
Electroconvulsive therapy is usually the last option a psychiatrist will result to with a patient as well as for patient who are unable to take medication. Fast or short term results. Recent studies conducted at John Hopkins Medicine have shown that patients receiving the treatment have experienced promising results. However, “shock” therapy still remains controversial among the general public, as seizures continue to be the number one cause of concern regarding this progressive treatment towards depression.