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Antidepressants Alone Don't Treat Depression: Expert Says

Update Date: Feb 23, 2013 02:38 PM EST

A noted neuroscientist has now said that using just antidepressants won't help treat depression in people and that people on these medications need to get psychological help to cope with depression.

Antidepressants re-connect the pathways that have been disrupted in the brains of people with depression and these drugs can do only so much. Experts now say that people on these anti-depressants need to be able to make use of the newly acquired connections or brain plasticity to learn how to manage stress. The brain on these drugs is in some ways like the brain of a child, which learns by observing, according to press release.

Recently, a study from the journal JAMA Psychiatry had found that zapping brain with electricity alone with depression medication is better in treating depression. Also, a study published in the journal The Lancet had obtained good results for combination therapy that involved Cognitive behavioral therapy.

According to another study on the subject, published in Science, had earlier found that combining anti-depression drugs with psychological rehabilitation lets the brain make use of the plasticity acquired by the brain treated for depression.

Estimates by National Alliance on Mental Health  say that over 25 million people in the U.S. will suffer from major depression this year.  Although, occasional blues and feeling of sadness is common occurrence in people of all ages, those with clinical diagnosis of depression have symptoms like anger and frustration that interfere with daily life.

"Simply taking drugs is not enough. We must also show the brain what the desired connections should be," Professor Eero Castrén of the Neuroscience Centre said.

More than 350 million people around the world suffer from depression, says World Health Organization. Lack of access to mental care, cost of treatment and more importantly social stigma attached with mental treatment keeps many people away from getting adequate care for depression in developing countries. According to WHO, women are more likely to have depression than men.

In the U.S., about one in every ten adults is depressed, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Eero Castrén has recently received a five-year grant of EUR 2.5 million from the European Research Council (ERC) to find out the mechanisms related to brain plasticity, especially after use of antidepressants. 

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