Hope for Depression

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Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders throughout the world, in fact it affects one in four of us at some point in our lives (Dr Trisha Macnair, 2011). However, this wouldn’t be such an issue if it wasn’t so hard to treat. About 20% of patients treated for depression are “treatment resistant” – meaning they are quite difficult to treat, and are more likely to relapse.

Don’t panic though, as researchers such as Dr Raymond DePaulo, have managed to find the right combinations to treat depression in these treatment resistant patients. In fact, DePaulo (in his book Understanding Depression: What We Know and What You Can Do About It) claims that for this 20%, he sets and achieves an 80% improvement in treatment 80% of the time. (Although this doesn’t seem substantial, those suffering from chronic depression may see this as hopeful, which may give them the courage to seek help).

More good news (although not as good as that of DePaulo) comes from the 6 year long STAR*D study (Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression). It looked at the use of antidepressants in patients with chronic and severe depression who had not responded to drugs in the past and suffer from more than one mental health problem. It was found that trying different drug combinations, such as adding a drug on top of SSRI‘s (Selective Seretonin Re-uptake Inhibitors) or switching to a new drug class, and then waiting for 12 weeks before assessing the results leads to a remission of symptoms in just over half of patients – which isn’t great but it is promising.

Although this doesn’t seem like a substantial result, for those suffering with chronic depression, this kind of hope is all they have. They need hope every second of every day in order to get through the tasks they need to; in order to get out of bed even.  So I post this in the HOPE that people out there will be reminded that depression can be treated, managed, and even lived with.


Written by: Philippa Berry.

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