The Future of Depression Treatment
The World Health Organization reports that about 264 million people globally experience depression. While people with depression can have similar symptoms, each person with the disorder experiences it in unique ways. For example, the disorder can be brought on by different causes, and people respond to treatments differently.
The first-line treatment options for depression include cognitive-behavioral therapy and antidepressant medications. For many people with depression, these and other available treatments work well. However, some patients never respond well to these options. Hope is on the horizon for these people and anyone who develops depression in the near future. The emerging trends below showcase how different depression treatment choices will be in just a few years.
Blood Tests and Artificial Intelligence to Choose Treatment Options
When people seek help for depression today, doctors recommend therapy and finding the right type of medication. However, there’s no real way to determine which medication will work best for any given patient, so psychiatrists and patients must do trial and error. Many times, they start with the medication that works best for people with similar demographics, but that’s not nearly accurate enough for many people.
New types of tests will allow psychiatrists to pinpoint the types of medications that are likely to work well for a person. In general, there are three types of tests in development for this purpose:
- Brain: researchers have found that people with specific brain wave patterns are more likely to respond to certain depression medications.
- Blood: scientists have successfully linked the levels of C-reactive proteins in a person’s blood to the types of antidepressants that will work best.
- Genetic: people with certain gene variations are more likely to respond to specific antidepressants
The brain and blood tests for antidepressant efficacy are still in the early stages of development. However, the research seems positive and the results may improve as technology advances. At least one company has developed a genetic test for depression medication options and it is on the market. As technology improves, these tests may become more accurate and readily available.
Expansion of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
Even with advancements in medication and personalized treatment plans, some people will continue to respond poorly to behavioral health medications. For example, people may experience allergic reactions, severe side effects, or little-to-no improvements of their symptoms. This happens now and is likely to continue.
TMS is a non-invasive procedure that already offers relief to many people with treatment-resistant depression. As awareness about this safe, effective treatment spreads, we can expect more people to turn to TMS. Furthermore, researchers continue to find that TMS is effective for many kinds of depression. Most recently, the FDA approved it as a new option for treating bipolar depression.
New Depression Medications on the Horizon
While there have been many advancements in depression medications, the mechanisms of action have remained relatively stable over many years. All of that is set to change with the newest generation of depression medications on the horizon. Because these drugs have completely different effects on the brain, they may provide relief for patients who have never had success with existing treatments and those who want treatments with fewer side effects.
One of the types of medicines that researchers are exploring is glutamate modulators, specifically ketamine. This medication started as an anesthetic, but it is now used off-label for treatment-resistant depression. Scientists are learning more about how ketamine works in order to develop safer, more effective depression treatment options.
Glutamate modulators are not the only types of medications on the horizon for people with depression. There is a big push within the scientific community to learn more about the human brain. As this continues, researchers can start to better understand how depression works and what mechanisms of action can stop it.
Find Depression Treatment in Georgia
LifeStance Health is one of the region’s leaders in providing research-backed treatment options for people with depression. Whether you want to explore therapy, medication, or both, we can help. If you struggle with depression, please feel free to contact us today.