New possible depression treatment
With one in four suffering from depression at some point in their lives, and the condition creating numerous additional issues from lost productivity to exacerbated physical illnesses, the trial of a new treatment is very welcome.
The trial is run by a team in Israel, who have identified creatine as a pivotal compound managing the homeostasis in the brain. Depression can have a chemical cause – an imbalance that contributes to the symptoms. Its exact role is not known, but it plays an important part in the storage of the cellular energy compound adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Previous studies have shown that oral creatine supplements can increase the use of oxygen by the brain – something supported by its use in sports enhancing medicine as well as a range of neurological and neuromuscular diseases. A number of studies have implicated altered cerebral energy metabolism in the pathophysiology of depression.
One of the challenges in developing therapeutic agents for depression and other mental illnesses is the emotional aspect of symptoms. There are a few physical symptoms, such as slowness and chemical imbalances, but this makes animal models very difficult to come by. The ‘learned helplessness’ model is most commonly used, where by animals become ‘depressed’ because they cannot gain a reward. Leaving aside the ethics of such experiments, the complexity of triggers and confounding factors in the case of depression in humans can make determining the biological pathway to target impossible!
Multi-pronged approached will remain the most appropriate treatment, it is widely felt. A combination of talking therapies such as CBT and mindfulness which give patients coping strategies, help prevent future relapses and address the triggers of the depression, and the chemical aides is likely to be the best option for the foreseeable future