|August 21, 2006 19:22 - Predicting When Antidepressant Medication Will And Will Not Work
Recently a study conducted by Dr. Aimee M. Hunter and colleagues from UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute and published in the August issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry found that a depressed patients response to antidepressant medication could be predicted by an electroencephalogram (EEG).
An EEG is an instrument that measures electrical signals. These signals are produced by activity in the brain. The signals are recorded on a graph, which provides a report of the brain's electrical activity.
Dr. Hunter and her associates studied the EEGs of 51 adults with major depressive disorder. The EEGs were taken during the early part of the study before the patients started taking antidepressant medication. Certain EEG changes were found to be associated with improvement in symptoms after antidepressant medication was taken.
This study showed that the brains of depressed patients who respond to medication are different than the brains of those patients that do not respond to medication.
It is interesting that the changes in the EEG patterns happen before the patients started taking medications. This suggested that some of the impact of antidepressant medication may relate to factors other than the medication itself.
My Two Cents Worth
It is exciting that medical science is learning so much about how the brain functions and how this is related to disorders such as depression. Maybe some day psychiatrists will be able to know in advance who will and will not respond to an antidepressant medication.
When that day comes, those that will not respond will not have to experience the frustration of starting a promising treatment only to have it fail. Neither will they have to endure the side effects of medications that are not going to benefit them.
However, that day has not arrived. As for now, determining who will and who will not respond to depression medication is a manner of trial and error.
Your doctor has to try the medication and wait a few weeks to see what the response will be. This can be wearisome for the patients and their loved ones.
One thing to keep in mind is that medication is not the only approach to helping depression. There is much that the depressed person can do to help him or herself.
Cognitive behavioral psychotherapy, improved nutrition, and exercise are very helpful. So, if you are depressed, don't passively wait for a medication to work.
Follow your doctors advice and take the medication as prescribed. Then while you are waiting for the medication to work, start doing other things to help your depression such as those mentioned above.
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August 24, 2006 21:04 - A Natural Treatment For Childhood Depression
Do you have to medicate your child to treat his or her depression? Maybe not, according to a recent study conducted by Dr. R. H. Belmaker, of Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, and colleagues.
This study involved 28 children, ages 6 to 12, suffering from depression. The children were assigned to a treatment group or to a placebo group.
Those in the treatment group were given omega-3 fatty acids for 16 weeks. Twenty of the children remained in the study from one month to the full 16 weeks. These children were evaluated using a standardized measure of depression.
The results were remarkable. Seventy percent of the children taking the omega-3 fatty acids showed a reduction in their depression scores of more than 50 percent. Four achieved remission. None of the children in the placebo group experienced a 50 percent improvement.
Whats more, the omega-3 fatty acids did not have any side effects.
My Two Cents Worth
Medication truly works wonders with depression. Nevertheless, there are side effects. If a natural treatment -- with fewer side effects -- is available by all means use it.
Omega-3 fatty acids have repeatedly been shown to be such a treatment. Now it has been found to help children as well as adults.
This is good news.
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