Identifying and treating metabolic deficiencies in patients with treatment-resistant depression can improve symptoms and in some cases even lead to remission, according to new research.
“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 David Lewis, M.D., a professor and chair of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry (UPMC).
Major depressive disorder, usually referred to simply as depression, affects nearly 15 million American adults and is one of the most common mental disorders. Unfortunately, at least 15 percent of patients don’t find relief from conventional treatments, such as antidepressant medications and psychotherapy, said lead study investigator Lisa Pan, M.D., a professor of psychiatry, and clinical and translational science at the Pitt School of Medicine.
Depression also is the cause of more than two-thirds of suicides.
The groundwork for the current study was laid five years ago when Pan and David Brent, M.D., endowed chair in suicide studies at Pitt, treated a teen with a history of suicide attempts and long-standing depression.