A suprising revealation about the long term effects of clinical depression is that major depression is the leading cause of disability for Americans between the ages of 15 and 44. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), a scientific organization which dedicates itself to understanding the mental health issues between men and women, estimates that women are 70 percent more likely than men to experience depression in their lifetimes.
Hormones are the top blamed culprit in women who experience long term or brief episodes of depression in their lifetime. Depression risk spikes for women after pregnancy, during menstruation, and during menopause.
Dating back to the 1800’s, an array of different treatment modalities have been offered for sufferers of mental illness. Some of the more barbaric forms of treatment included:
–> Shock therapy, which is still used today but in a much more supervised, controlled environment
–> Forced insulin seizures
–> Bleed the patient
–> Completely isolate the patient
Some people even believed the patients were possessed by evil spirits.
Advances in Therapy
We have come a long way in treating different forms of depression, and the disease is more highly recognized and understood than ever before. Although some would claim we are still in the infancy of effectively making measurable differences in the lives of chronically depressed people, there has been some new research published on another form of treatment.
This treatment has not been readily available but now that scientists are looking at this option more closely, this could be a huge breakthrough in the mental health and psychiatric community.
Researchers have isolated or located a specific region of the brain where scarcity of a key protein may be leading to depressive disorders or symptoms in people. The new findings, appearing October 20th in Science Translational Medicine, could lead the way to treating some cases of the diagnosable depressive disorders with gene therapy.
Researchers who participated in a new study led by Michael Kaplitt of the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, discovered that clinically depressed people suffered from lower than normal levels of a protein called p11 in the brain’s nucleus accumbens.
This brain structure impacts areas of the brain responsible for addiction, reward and, of course, depression.
Discovering ways of effectively delivering the gene for the p11 protein to the described areas of the brain reduced or eliminated depression-like behavior in listless mice, according to the findings of the researchers.
Cochlear Gene Therapy
At UNSW, researchers have now for the first time used electrical pulses delivered from a cochlear implant to deliver gene therapy.
Not only could this offer relief for people with psychiatric disorders but it also looks promising for people who have been diagnosed with illness such as Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders.
According to Jim Patrick, Chief Scientist and Senior Vice-President of Cochlear Limited:
“This research breakthrough is important because while we have had very good outcomes with our cochlear implants so far, if we can get the nerves to grow close to the electrodes and improve the connections between them, then we’ll be able to have even better outcomes in the future.”
Depression and other neulogical disorders have profound effects of the lives of people who suffer from these debilitating conditions. Missed work, medical conditions, and hospital stays are all consequences of untreated mental illness.
Not to mention the devastating impact mental illness has on other family members. We, as a nation, invite new research and new findings on other possible ways of treating this sometimes incurable condition.