Brain Molecules Discovery May Help Battle Depression

brain molecules

Brain Molecules Could Help Predict Treatment

Levels of a small brain molecules found only in humans and in other primates are lower in the brains of depressed individuals, according to researchers at McGill University and the Douglas Institute in Canada. This discovery may hold a key to improving treatment options for those who suffer from depression.

That thunderous sound you hear is me doing my happy dance. Once again, I’m ecstatic that another study supports the belief that there is a “physical” reason depression exists. It’s not just people complaining that they feel sad. Everyone experiences sadness in their lifetime. Sometimes to near unbearable levels, but depression is one step further – it’s sadness on steroids. Each year (lately each month) there is further evidence that depression is a part of how our brain functions (or dysfunctions.) More and more studies provide supportive evidence that people with depression, and bipolar live with physical and chemical parts of the brain that do not work the same as other people’s brains. Also, much evidence shows that it can be hereditary, which means it’s not necessarily a product of our environment while growing up. So stop blaming your parents! They can’t control what they inherited any more than you could.

The study, to be published in the journal Nature Medicine, Dr. Gustavo Turecki, a psychiatrist at Douglas and professor in the Faculty of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry at McGill, together with his team, discovered that the levels of tiny brain molecules, miR-1202, may provide a marker for depression and help detect individuals who are likely to respond to antidepressant treatment.

The Evidence

The team conducted a number of experiments that showed that antidepressants change the levels of this microRNA. “In our clinical trials with living depressed individuals treated with citalopram, a commonly prescribed antidepressant, we found lower levels in depressed individuals compared to the non-depressed individuals before treatment,” says Turecki. “Clearly, microRNA miR-1202 increased as the treatment worked and individuals no longer felt depressed.”

One things that makes me more excited about this study compared to other studies is the confidence level of the researchers. Usually there are warnings that additional studies are necessary and/or not to get excited just yet. Not with these guys, though. Nope. They sound pretty sure of themselves. Oh, sure, I know realistically that any new meds based on this study are years down the road, but I know we’re heading in the right direction.

The Goal

Antidepressant drugs are the most common treatment for depressive episodes, and are among the most prescribed medications in North America. “Although antidepressants are clearly effective, there is variability in how individuals respond to antidepressant treatment,” says Turecki, “We found that miR-1202 is different in individuals with depression and particularly, among those patients who eventually will respond to antidepressant treatment”.

Going through the trial and error period of finding the right meds for me was hell. Some had no effect, some threw me into darker despair and some had horrible side effects. I support anything that can prevent others from having the same experience.

The discovery may provide “a potential target for the development of new and more effective antidepressant treatments,” he adds.

All I can add to that is an optimistic statement is, “Hooray!”

Source: McGill University

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