Treatment for depression

While therapies have been beneficial in some patients, unfortunately two thirds of patients don’t respond to available treatments, so further research is crucial. Current treatment options include:

  • Antidepressants
    • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are only helpful for some patients and have no effect until weeks after they are first taken;
    • Ketamine, experimentally, produces rapid antidepressant actions that last weeks, and could used as a suicide prevention tool
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy, which aims to re-frame how patients think about and react to stressful, negative mood-inducing situations;
  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is only effective for severe depression and is reserved for patients at imminent risk of suicide. ECT involves passing an electric current into the brain to trigger a seizure. Although effective, ECT routinely causes temporary memory loss;
  • Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a surgical approach in which an electrical stimulator is placed in a specific area of the brain. DBS is unlikely to ever be a first-choice treatment but some believe it shows great promise for treatment-resistant depression.