As we conclude National Mental Health Awareness Month, let us never forget the struggles people with depression experience on a daily basis.
Depression is characterized by a combination of symptoms that interfere with a person’s ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy once-pleasurable activities (www.nimh.nih.gov).
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (www.adaa.org), depression is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15 to 44 and affects more than 15 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older, in a given year.
Anxiety disorders, like depression, cost the United States billions each year. More than have of those costs are associated with the repeated use of health care services.
Research studies help search for effective depression treatments
Because the cause of depression is a complex mixture of genetic and environmental factors, more and more testing is required to find the best possible treatments. “When we’re talking about mental illnesses, like depression, we aren’t talking about a single cause and effect,” Andrew Cutler, MD, Meridien Research’s Chief Medical Officer said. “There are many phases in the neural system that may have one or more failures. That means that one medication may work at one phase in a person’s life, yet may not help them later because the cause is at a different phase or occurs over multiple phases.”
Antidepressant medications are the most common treatment for depression, but there is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Individuals might need to try several different drugs before finding the one that improves their symptoms. Many doctors initially try medications that target serotonin or noradrenaline pathways. These are two neurotransmitters that affect mood. A deficit in either one has been linked to depression, so certain drugs help increase these neurotransmitters in the brain to relieve symptoms.
One downside of antidepressants is that they take some time – about two to four weeks – to become effective once individuals begin taking them. Also, the drugs will likely improve sleep, appetite and concentration before improving mood, so individuals might feel like the medication isn’t working for them. Continuing research is needed to develop drugs that alleviate all types and phases of depression.
“We always need new medicines because we are looking at all of the different phases of a very complex condition,” said Dr. Cutler.
If you or someone you know is depressed, don’t be afraid to reach out! Meridien Research is conducting a number of depression-related research studies in our Lakeland, Maitland and Bradenton locations. For more information or to see if you qualify, please contact Meridien Research today at 888-777-8839!