Under the Hood

Treatment-Resistant Depression: New Study Finds Improvement In Symptoms After Correcting Metabolic Deficiencies

A new research has shown the possibility of tackling treatment-resistant depression by treating patients for possible metabolic deficiencies. The results showed an improvement in symptoms and even remission in some cases.

The research conducted by University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine was published Friday in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

“What’s really promising about these new findings is that they indicate that there may be physiological mechanisms underlying depression that we can use to improve the quality of life in patients with this disabling illness,” said Dr. David Lewis, from Pitt’s Department of Psychiatry in a press release.

According to lead study investigator Dr. Lisa Pan, of the almost 15 million American adults that suffer from depression, or major depressive disorder, at least 15 percent do not find relief from conventional treatments like psychotherapy and antidepressant medications.

depression Symptoms of depression can be improved by correcting metabolic deficiencies, a new research has shown. Getty Images/David McNew

Following success in a case where the doctors were able to reverse the patient’s depression symptoms after discovering that he had a cerebrospinal fluid deficiency in biopterin, the researchers widened their scope.

For the trial explained in the study, metabolic abnormalities in 33 adolescents and young adults were looked at. The subjects were suffering from treatment-resistant depression and 16 controls. The particular metabolites that were affected differed amongst the patients but it was found that 64 percent of them were suffering from a deficiency in neurotransmitter metabolism compared with none of the controls.

For almost all patients, once the deficiency was treated, the depression symptoms improved significantly. In some cases, there was complete remission. Pan also said that as the treatment moves forward, there has been a progress in the patient’s condition.

“It’s really exciting that we now have another avenue to pursue for patients for whom our currently available treatments have failed. This is a potentially transformative finding for certain groups of people with depression,” said Pan.

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