Exams, work or personal problems, imprisonment, international conflicts, economic problems… One could say that life has not been easy in recent years. All of these challenges can lead us to sadness, which is normal in a stressful situation.
However, when discouragement persists, usually accompanied by fatigue and listlessness, among other things, and interfering with everyday activities, it can be a sign of depression.
Unfortunately, this condition has been increasing at an alarming rate in recent years. Who doesn’t know someone in their environment who has the symptoms mentioned above. The global Covid-19 crisis has only worsened the outlook: it is estimated that around 25% of the world’s population suffers from related diseases.
Faced with this situation and regardless of the type of depression, most people look for a cure in antidepressants hoping to get out of this agony. In fact, its consumption has increased by more than 30% in the last 5 years and by 10% since the pandemic.
Efficacy and limitations of antidepressants
And how do these pills work to lift our spirits? Well, while there are many types of antidepressants, the most commonly prescribed are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). In order to understand us, these allow the happiness hormone serotonin to work longer.
However, the expected results are not always achieved. Recent studies show that they are generally only effective in 40-60% of cases.
In this sense, a systematic review article has recently been published, a very valuable tool that allows us to look closely at the existing results in an area. In addition to reporting that the main treatment has traditionally been SSRIs, he concludes that these have only had a beneficial effect in certain patients. In other words, they’re not as effective as they promised.
But be careful, the question is not whether they are worth it or not, but who that 40-60% are. This means that a more in-depth analysis of the results already available is necessary to find out what the patients are like who benefit from them because of their disease.
An insufficient focus on treating depression
Although there are seven distinct families of receptors for serotonin in the brain, attributing depression to this pathway is reductionist. First of all, this disorder is manifested by many subtypes (major depression, seasonal depression, anxious depression…) and the associated symptoms number in the hundreds.
Far from being exclusively linked to mood states, many of these symptoms are linked to other processes. These include weight changes, pain in different parts of the body, bowel or heart problems, etc.
This alone should be more than enough evidence that depression is a lot more complex than we’ve realized over the years. In fact, this is supported by recent studies linking depression to many other biological mechanisms besides serotonin, such as: B. Changes in the formation of new neurons or the state of the bacteria in our gut.
Because of this, treating such a wide variety of symptoms and subtypes with a single panacea seems unrealistic.
Shift towards more personalized medicine
This type of study opens a door to the possibility of finding more personalized treatment for patients. Knowing the participants better could allow them to be classified based on their symptoms or other types of variables. For example: genetics, lifestyle, age, presence of other diseases, presence or absence of cognitive problems, etc.
This, in turn, could stimulate new investigations starting on this basis, allowing better refinement of diagnosis, design of strategies and hence treatment, including psychological therapy. And not only that: identifying the variables could help us to better understand the origin of these complex diseases and take another step in their prevention.
Everyday weapons against depression
In recent years, there have been many studies demonstrating the positive effects that a healthy routine can have on mood.
Far from being empty and typical advice, good nutrition helps us to have good gut health, which is increasingly linked to our mental health. Exercising allows us to lubricate all motor and metabolic systems, eliminate toxins, prevent inflammation and promote the release of substances such as endorphins that improve mood.
It is also important to sleep enough hours, which allows us cleaning in our brain and fixed memory. It is also facilitated by cognitive stimulation, such as learning languages or music.
Finally, maintaining a healthy and satisfying relationship with our occupations and with the people around us helps improve useful brain pathways like reward circuits.
All of this is beneficial not only for patients with mental health disorders, but for everyone as prevention. Until we develop an effective therapy strategy that combines medication and psychological therapy, it’s worth keeping these tips in mind, which will also help us maintain good overall health. In short, the up Let’s press the buttonhealthy living is the ray of hope within reach of all.