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Most Antidepressants Miss Key Target of Clinical Depression

Friday, December 11, 2009 Mental Health News J E 4
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TORONTO, Dec. 10 /PRNewswire/ - People often feel well after sixweeks of antidepressants but a new study published in the Archives of GeneralPsychiatry shows why it is hazardous to stop treatment at this point.

A key brain protein called monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A) is highly elevatedduring clinical depression and does not normalize after six weeks of treatmentwith commonly used antidepressants called SSRIs (serotonin reuptakeinhibitors).

This is not the time to stop taking the antidepressant because MAO-Adigests brain chemicals including serotonin, that help maintain healthy mood.High MAO-A levels remove too much serotonin.

The study also showed that when people are not taking antidepressants,high levels of MAO-A lead to getting ill again.

According to Dr. Jeffrey Meyer, the lead investigator, "Since mostantidepressants do not target MAO-A, we have to wait for the brain to healthis process. The future is to make treatments that tell the brain to makeless MAO-A so as to shorten the period of time antidepressants are needed. Inthe meantime it is important to follow standard recommendations of continuingtreatment for at least a minimum of six months to a year."

Researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health used an advancedbrain imaging method to measure levels of the brain protein MAO-A. VP ofResearch Bruce Pollock highlights the study's use of complex technology, "CAMHhas the only positron emission tomography (PET) centre in the world that isdedicated solely to mental health and addiction treatment and research. As aresult, we were able to develop this new technology to measure MAO-A levels."

Dr. Meyer is the Head of Neurochemical Imaging Program in Mood Disorders,and a Canada Research Chair in the Neurochemistry of Depression.

The study (Brain Monoamine Oxidase A Binding in Depressive Disorder:Relationship to Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor Treatment, Recovery,and Recurrence) was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, theOntario Mental Health Foundation, and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation.The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mentalhealth and addiction teaching hospital. CAMH combines clinical care, research,education, policy, development, prevention and health promotion to transformthe lives of people affected by mental health and addiction issues.

SOURCE CAMH Foundation
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