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article imageStudy: Antidepressants miss targets of clinical depression Special

By Andrew Moran     Dec 8, 2009 in Health
Researchers have concluded that a key brain protein increases during depression but is completely unaffected by antidepressants.
A famous painting titled “Despair” by Edvard Munch shows an individual with his head down and a depressed look on his face. Another Munch painting called “The Scream” shows an alien-like individual screaming. A depressed person can represent both of those feelings; on the outside a person who suffers from depression may have a moroseness feeling but on the inside one may want to scream out their emotions.
According to Health Canada and Statistics Canada, about 8 per cent of Canadians will at some point in their lives experience depression and or anxiety. Between 1994 and 2004, 11.6 million visits were made to the doctor in Canada for depression and or anxiety.
A new study released by the Center for Addiction and Mental Health on Tuesday, shows that an important brain protein called monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A) is highly prominent during clinical depression but is impervious to patients who use antidepressants.
Using advanced brain imaging methods, researchers could measure the different varying levels of MAO-A. They went on to show that MAO-A digests numerous brain chemicals that help provide healthier moods, such as serotonin. But then high levels of MAO-A levels remove healthier brain chemicals.
Doctors and psychiatrists usually prescribe antidepressants to patients who suffer from depression yet 50 per cent of people do not respond to the treatment. Doctor Jeffrey Mayer, the lead researcher, said, “Mismatches between treatment and disease are important for understanding why treatments don't always work. Rather than reversing the problem of MAO-A breaking down several chemicals, most antidepressants only raise serotonin."
Linda Rodriguez, a person who has suffered from depression the majority of her life, told Digital Journal in an e-mail that the only treatment she could receive would be antidepressants because several psychologists would only treat her if she was on antidepressants, “I got into the psychologist’s office and he immediately wrote out a prescription for antidepressants when I explained to him my feelings.”
The World Health Organization has stated that depression is the fourth leading global disability and premature deaths. However, recurrent illness is a major problem even under serious treatment. At least 20 percent of clinical depression cases are recurring.
Digital Journal reported on Monday that antidepressants also cause personality changes by increasing extroversion. Rodriguez concurs with this and said when she was on antidepressants she would be the “social butterfly” and create friendships with everyone she met. She went onto explain that she would invite people over to her house consistently, while talking to strangers. In reality, Rodriguez explained she is an introverted and depressed person and when she was on antidepressants she was a completely different person, “But it was very difficult when I was off of them because I was back to my introverted self and when I was in large social gatherings people thought I snubbed them but I didn’t. I just wasn’t myself when I was on antidepressants.”
This latest finding coincides with historical research that show medications lower monoamines, which can lead to clinical depression. In the 1950s, a variety of blood pressure medications lowered monoamines and after a period of time, users would start to experience depression.
Dr. Meyer believes that people have to count on the brain to “heal this process of making too much MAO-A.” He adds, “The future is to make treatments that tell the brain to make less MAO-A, even after the antidepressant treatment is over, to create better opportunities for sustained recovery."
Rodriguez wants more research to be done and better oversight or training of psychologists who should treat first and if depression persists then the possibility of prescriptions should be discussed.
More about Antidepressants, Center for mental health, Depression
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