ORLANDO — More than 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression. Now, novel therapies are changing the game when it comes to managing this often-debilitating illness.
It’s a disease that affects men and women, the old and the young, the rich and the poor. Depression doesn’t discriminate, but there are ways to help control it.
Talk therapy along with antidepressant medications have been the go-to treatments for years.
Ernest Rasyidi, MD, Psychiatrist, St Joseph Hospital says, “Medications are not 100 percent. They provide some options, but they have some limitations.”
In fact, one-third of people with depression don’t respond to antidepressants. And when the drugs do work, they can take four to eight weeks to kick in. Doctors are now looking at other ways to help people when standard treatments fail. One method called transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS for short, uses electrical stimulation to target areas in the brain that are underactive in people with depression.
Dr. Rasyidi continued, “What it does is it generates a very powerful magnetic field which we can then target into certain parts of the brain to stimulate activity.”
Two new FDA approved drugs have also shown promise. The first, esketamine, is a nasal spray that acts within a couple of hours. It’s derived from ketamine which is used as an anesthesia during surgeries. Esketamine relieves symptoms in about half of patients with treatment-resistant depression. And brexanolone is a newly-approved option for postpartum depression. It’s given as an infusion over two and a half days and starts to work within a few days.
Electroconvulsive therapy is another option for people with very serious, treatment-resistant depression. It uses electric impulses to trigger a controlled seizure in the brain. Like most treatments, these newer drugs and procedures pose safety risks and side effects. You and your doctor should talk about the risks and benefits.