New Treatments on the Horizon for Depression

Let’s face it:  Anti-depressants can be wonderful, but they can have bothersome side-effects. What’s more, there are people for whom they just don’t work. Additionally, there are those that finally found one that worked, and for whatever reason, one day it just stopped working. Therapy, life-coaching, social supports, community resources, spirituality, occupational therapy, these are all vital components of recovery, beyond what medicine alone can do. Some of us, however, have been left saying, “Yes, I am better than I was before, but I am still not at my best”; or, “This just isn’t working”. Are we forever bound to just eek by? Is there hope for those who haven’t found the ideal recovery component?

Indeed! New treatments are on the horizon that are showing much promise! First, there is TMS, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. A person sits under a device that revolves around the head, not even so much as touching them. The procedure takes about twenty minutes, and is typically given once per week (indefinitely) on an outpatient basis. It is FDA cleared. The device is thought to stimulate norepinephrine, serotonin, and to reduce the stress hormone cortisol, thus relieving depression. It is said to be free, or near-free, from side-effects. Granted, it  cannot be found everywhere yet, but it is hoped that the treatment will become more widespread. If you are in the Baltimore area, Sheppard Pratt offers the treatment on an outpatient basis.

The Gold Standard of treatment for severe depression (that is resistant to medication) is ECT, or Electroconvulsive Therapy. A seizure is intentionally induced, and for reasons that are not completely understood, severe depression can often be quickly alleviated. Severe side-effects such as memory problems, mental confusion, and cognitive disorganization can occur though. This is why it is generally used as a last resort. A new treatment, ET, or Electrotherapy (think: without the convulsion) is being tested and is hoped to be effective without such severe side-effects. Very promising…

Finally, also for severe depression, Ketamine therapy is being tested and showing promise. Yes, you read that right! Ketamine has gotten a bad reputation due to abuse on the streets, however, on an outpatient basis, and strictly under a doctor’s supervision, Ketamine is administered in the office. Ketamine is traditionally an anesthetic drug. It is administered for depression intravenously. After therapy, the client is released to go home. Patients have expressed coming into the office extremely depressed and suicidal, and leaving feeling relieved, stable, and optimistic. Almost like magic! Of course, it is not that simple, there are concerns and side-effects and some fears about the treatment that need to be addressed before it is a widespread option. It does give us a reason for hope, however, that in the near future we will have a treatment option beyond anti-depressants, which can take up to three weeks to work. Some people, due to suicidality, may not have the benefit of holding on for three weeks. This could be the panacea that the psychiatric community has been longing for.

So there you have it, there is hope on the horizon!

The theme for the week is renewal. When I am looking for something to help me feel detoxified and renewed, I love to take a Cleopatra bubble bath with a good face mask. Some of my favorite masks are by Glamglow. They have a firming mask that I honestly can see a difference, I look more “lifted” and refreshed. The recipe for the Cleopatra bubble bath is in the blog entry “Girlfriend’s Tired: Work-life Balance Tips for Women”. You’ll thank me later!

On a personal note, Friday is my last day (for a while) salaried in the Psychiatric field. It is a big change for me after twenty plus years and truth be known I am frightfully scared of the change. I love the Psychiatric field and it has been my life and identity for so long. I can’t see myself completely without it. It is a passion. In fact, my involvement in the Psychiatric field is not truly over, nor will it ever be. It is a part of me now, a part of my life mission that I will take with me as a consumer and advocate. Through this blog, my advocacy work, suicide prevention volunteering, etc; I may not be paid to help others in this capacity for the time being, but I shall volunteer and continue my work unabashedly, God willing, until the day that I die.

That is a solemn promise.


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I am a wife, mother, RN, make-up artist, and musician, who also happens to have a mood disorder. Fortunately, I will not let the latter define me. I am also a survivor of suicide loss. This website is dedicated to my brother, Jefferson Joseph Blanton-Harris ("Joey"). This site is to share thoughts about beauty, fashion, and most of all, mental health. Because fabulousness starts with good mental health! ~"I only want to see you laughing in the Purple Rain" - Prince

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