24-hour Cure For Depression May Have Been Discovered
Researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine may have found a 24 hour cure for depression, according to the results of a recent study that restored the ability of stressed out rats to feel pleasure within one day of starting treatment.
A New Approach
While serotonin-based depression drugs take weeks to kick in, this new drug works on GABA, a different neurotransmitter that balances the brain’s excitatory and inhibitory communication. In the rat study, it boosted the strength of excitatory communication within the rodents’ brains.
Lead researcher Scott Thompson, PhD, said, “We have evidence that these compounds can relieve the devastating symptoms of depression in less than one day, and can do so in a way that limits some of the key disadvantages of current approaches.”
In addition to the long lead time for current treatments to work, the disadvantages include a spotty success rate. They typically work in one-third of patients, leaving the others to try different drugs and approaches before they find relief.
Human Studies Needed
So far the compound hasn’t been tested in people, and the rat model doesn’t perfectly mimic the human depression experience. The rats in the study were subjected to chronic mild stress before drug administration, and they appeared to regain the ability to experience pleasure within 24 hours of treatment. Their brains physically showed increased excitatory communication. A control group of unstressed rats didn’t show any changes in their brains, raising the hope that the drug won’t have negative side effects. However, that won’t be known without additional studies.
Even though the drug is still a long way from potentially reaching the market, Thompson expressed optimism that it could be a boon for depression sufferers and could even help severe cases in which patients are contemplating suicide. He said, “These compounds produced the most dramatic effects in animal studies that we could have hoped for. It will now be tremendously exciting to find out whether they produce similar effects in depressed patients. If these compounds can quickly provide relief of the symptoms of human depression, such as suicidal thinking, it could revolutionize the way patients are treated.”
In the meantime, there are several drug options for treating depression, along with cognitive behavioral therapy and other non-drug approaches. This page on WebPsychology explores those options. If you suffer from depression, talk to your doctor or a counselor about creating a personalized treatment plan for you.