From Melancholia to Magnificence – Latest Treatments in Depression

Treatment of depression has come a long way. Originally known as melancholia, this condition first surfaced around the second millennium B.C. in Mesopotamia. People with mental issues such as depression were considered to be possessed by demons. They were treated by priests because depression was considered a spiritual rather than a physical illness.

Over time researchers and practitioners have learned much about depression.  For instance, Dr. Aaron Beck and Dr. Keith Bredemeier recently offered a unified model of depression that suggests that depression is an adaptation to a person’s perceived loss of an essential resource  (such as a loss of a family member or romantic partner). This loss can be especially devastating for people who are at greater risk of severe depression due to genetic or environmental reasons. “Our model suggests that any intervention that targets several key predisposing, precipitating, or resilience factors can reduce risk or alleviate symptoms,” Beck and Bredemeier stated.

Conventional Approaches

As researchers have access to more sophisticated technology, new ways to treat depression are regularly being announced. Recently, there have been a number of breakthroughs in conventional approaches to treating depression, including:

  • A new blood test. Researchers out of Great Britain have developed a blood test that matches patients with depression to specific common antidepressants. The test looks at the level of blood inflammation; if the level of inflammation is over a certain level, the patient may be prescribed more intense drug cocktails that can keep depression from worsening. Researchers believe this test will allow a more tailored approach to medications, as opposed to the current trial-and-error approach.
  • Originally a hallucinogenic club drug in the 1960s, Ketamine is being described as a significant advancement in treating depression.  This drug has been found to start treating the symptoms of depression within hours and is effective in three-quarters of patients who are treated.
  • Medical marijuana. Researchers out of the University of Buffalo believe that medical cannabis may hold promise in treating depression. Their study found that administering marijuana cannabinoids to rats can help alleviate some depression symptoms. Medical marijuana is believed to work by restoring the brain’s levels of endocannabinoids, which are chemical compounds that affect an individual’s emotion, behavior and cognition.

Integrative approaches

Integrative therapies often take a holistic approach to treating mild to moderate depression. These approaches include:

  • Nutrition – A focus on improving nutrition (whether through diet or supplements) can help improve brain chemistry. While the best source of nutrition is from nutrient-dense organic foods, nutritional supplements can help balance the brain’s chemicals, thus easing depressive symptoms. The basic nutritional supplements include: a multivitamin with B6 and minerals; omega-3 fatty acids with EPA/DHA totaling 1,000-3,000 mg daily; vitamin D-3; and probiotics with two or more live cultures.
  • Mind-body practices – Meditation, hypnosis, relaxation training, imagery, yoga and Qigong have emerged in research as valid ways to help ease depression.
  • Botanical medicines – Some studies suggest that plant-based medicines such as St. John’s Wort, valerian and rhodiola can help quell depression.
  • Essential oils. Lavender, chamomile, basil and Frankincense have been found to be calming. In addition, bergamot and peppermint oil can also help with depression.
  • Nature-based therapies – Being outdoors or connected to nature in some way helps reduce depression.
  • Music therapy – Regularly listening to music can help ease depressive symptoms.
  • Animal-assisted therapies – Being around pets and Equine-Assisted therapy have been found to ease anxiety and depression.

Our understanding of depression has come a long way since those days in Mesopotamia. With many treatment options now available, people who suffer from depression should work closely with their doctors to determine what options work best for them. This personalized treatment plan can help an individual with depression lead a healthy, happy and fulfilled life.

Written by Dorian Martin; Assigned and Edited by Jennifer Buergermeister

Sources for This Sharepost:

Association for Psychological Science. (2016). Beck Proposes an Integrative Theory of Depression.

Crew, B. (2016). Ketamine Found to Have an ‘Unbelievable’ Effect in Treating Severe Depression. (2010). Integrative Approach to Depression?

Gregoire, C. (2015). New Study Finds Marijuana To Be Effective Against Depression. Huffington Post.

Lawson, K. & Towey, S. (ND). What Integrative Therapies and Healing Practices Might Help for Anxiety and Depression? University of Minnesota’s Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing.

Nemade, B., Reiss, N. S., & Dombeck, M. (2007). Historical Understandings of Depression. (2016). Blood Test to Personalize Depression Treatment for the First Time.

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