Health In Focus
  • Treating metabolic disorders could help patients with treatment-resistant depression
  • Some patients have even been found to go into remission
  • Study finds physiological mechanisms that could lead to depression

Diagnosing metabolic disorders and treating them has been found to improve depression levels in patients, providing much needed help for patients who were resistant to medications.

Depression is a common mental disorder that affects millions across the world. Normal mood fluctuations could occur as a part of everyday life and is not considered to be depression.
Treating Metabolic Disorders Could Help Some Patients With Depression
Treating Metabolic Disorders Could Help Some Patients With Depression

According to WHO

  • 350 million people suffer from depression across the world.
  • Depression contributes to the global burden of disease
  • Depression affects the day to day life of the individual and could lead to suicidal attempts.
  • 8 million people commit suicide every year
  • For 15 to 29 year olds, suicide is the second leading cause of death.
  • Depression affects more women than men
Depression can affect the quality of life that an individual leads and interferes with academic pursuits. It has also been found to disrupt the ability of the individual to focus on work, resulting in unemployment.

There are treatment options that are available for patients with depression. However, some patients do not respond to medications. A new study by researchers from the University of Pittsburg's School of Medicine has found that identifying metabolic disorders and treating them could treat some of these patients.

The Reason for the Study

Dr. Lisa Pan who is the professor of psychiatry and Dr. David Brent were treating a patient with depression five years ago. He attempted suicide several times and did not respond to medications that were prescribed.

According to Dr. Pan "Over a period of years, we tried every treatment available to help this patient, and yet he still found no relief from his depression symptoms."

Dr. Pan then contacted Dr. Jerry Vockley who helms the Chair of Genetics at The Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and another Professor in Human Genetics at Pitt's Graduate School of Public Health, Dr. David Finegold to study the needs of the patient further.

The patient was made to run through a battery of biochemical tests that confirmed that the patient lacked the protein biopterin in the cerebrospinal fluid. Biopterin was essential for the synthesis of several neurotransmitters or chemicals that carry signals from the brain.

The doctors prescribed an analogue of biopterin that helped the patient come out of depression and regain his normalcy. This prompted them to conduct a clinical trial that would provide conclusive evidence that supports the claim that treating metabolic disorders could help with depression.

Clinical Trial

33 young adults and adults who were undergoing depression and who did not respond to medication were included in the study. 16 people were taken as control. The study participants were made to undergo biochemical tests.

Results of the Study

  • 64% of the affected group was deficient in metabolism of a neurotransmitter.
  • The type of metabolite deficiency varied from one individual to another.
  • The controls showed no deficiency.
  • Treatment with the deficient metabolite improved symptoms of depression in the affected group.
  • Some patients even went into remission
"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 Dr.Pan.

This study aids in highlighting metabolic deficiency as a root cause of certain forms of depression, marking the need to conduct biochemical tests to identify and treat metabolic diseases that may exist. This would raise hopes for many who continue to suffer under the veil of depression and who do not respond to anti-psychotic medication.

As Dr. David Lewis adds "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."

Source: Medindia

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