Treating metabolic deficiencies can help tackle depression: Study

The term “depression” should be used with utmost care as it is a serious condition that affects both physical and mental health. People often have to deal with numerous problems in day-to-day life and when they are unable to cope with these challenges, depression tends to creep in, making everything seem worthless. Depression usually starts with sadness that may transform into life-threatening symptoms, like suicidal tendencies.

Depression affects different people in different ways, which implies that there is no one way that patients feel and behave when fighting depressive episodes. However, at times, certain underlying physiological mechanisms may trigger depressive symptoms which affect the quality of a patient’s life. A recent study by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine revealed that symptoms of treatment-resistant depression can be greatly improved by treating certain metabolic deficiencies in patients.

Depression triggers more than two-thirds of suicides

Clinical depression is a predominant mental illness among American adults, affecting approximately 15 million people. However, majority of them – at least 15 percent – does not benefit from any treatment strategy, be it medications or psychotherapy, said Lisa Pan, M.D., professor of psychiatry, and clinical and translational science, Pitt School of Medicine.

The researchers figured out that the group of patients who do not respond to antidepressant medications or therapy had certain metabolic abnormalities in them which interfered with the functioning of the brain. The deficiency of neurotransmitter metabolism in such patients prompted the researchers to focus on a different target for treatment.

As part of the study, the researchers enrolled 33 participants, including adolescents and young adults, who were diagnosed with treatment-resistant depression, and compared them with 16 members in the control group. It was found that 64 percent patients of depression had insufficient neurotransmitter metabolism as compared to the control group. On treating these deficiencies in the patient group, the researchers observed that their depressive symptoms improved significantly, showing a new method for treating patients who do not get any relief from conventional treatments.

“It’s really exciting that we now have another avenue to pursue for patients for whom our currently available treatments have failed,” said Pan.

Dramatic rise in severe, disabling mental illness in America

Most Americans are vulnerable to numerous mental disorders, with major depressive disorder being the leading cause of disability in the age group of 15-44.3 years, as per the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). To mitigate the symptoms of the disease, psychiatrists usually prescribe a slew of antidepressants, which can provide only temporary relief. Especially in children and teenagers, the situation can be worse when the depressive symptoms are not controlled by common drugs.

However, it must be remembered that depression is treatable, provided patients adopt a healthy lifestyle and become as informed as possible about the most effective treatment options.

Mental disorder needs professional care

Many patients of depression adopt an escapist attitude that can further compound the feeling of sadness or pain and make someone feel neglected. There are many others who tend to adopt unhealthy habit like drinking or abusing substances to rid themselves of the recurring melancholic thoughts.

Though self-help strategies can be effective in boosting one’s mood, seeking treatment for depression is necessary to keep the disease at bay. At times, depression symptoms can turn out to be overwhelming and this is the time when one needs to see a doctor or a mental health professional who can assess the problem and recommend relevant treatment options.

However, a balanced lifestyle is key to overall well-being, involving a sufficient amount of physical activity and relaxation. Treating a mental disorder needs professional assistance. If you or your loved one is battling some form of mental disorder, get in touch with the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline to learn about the best mental health programs in the U.S. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-653-8178 or chat online with one of our mental health specialists for assistance.