From Melancholia to Magnificence – Latest Treatments in Depression

Treatment of depression has come a long way. Originally known as melancholia, this condition first surfaced around the second millennium B.C. in Mesopotamia. People with mental issues such as depression were considered to be possessed by demons. They were treated by priests because depression was considered a spiritual rather than a physical illness.

Over time researchers and practitioners have learned much about depression.  For instance, Dr. Aaron Beck and Dr. Keith Bredemeier recently offered a unified model of depression that suggests that depression is an adaptation to a person’s perceived loss of an essential resource  (such as a loss of a family member or romantic partner). This loss can be especially devastating for people who are at greater risk of severe depression due to genetic or environmental reasons. “Our model suggests that any intervention that targets several key predisposing, precipitating, or resilience factors can reduce risk or alleviate symptoms,” Beck and Bredemeier stated.

Conventional Approaches

As researchers have access to more sophisticated technology, new ways to treat depression are regularly being announced. Recently, there have been a number of breakthroughs in conventional approaches to treating depression, including:

  • A new blood test. Researchers out of Great Britain have developed a blood test that matches patients with depression to specific common antidepressants. The test looks at the level of blood inflammation; if the level of inflammation is over a certain level, the patient may be prescribed more intense drug cocktails that can keep depression from worsening. Researchers believe this test will allow a more tailored approach to medications, as opposed to the current trial-and-error approach.
  • Originally a hallucinogenic club drug in the 1960s, Ketamine is being described as a significant advancement in treating depression.  This drug has been found to start treating the symptoms of depression within hours and is effective in three-quarters of patients who are treated.
  • Medical marijuana. Researchers out of the University of Buffalo believe that medical cannabis may hold promise in treating depression. Their study found that administering marijuana cannabinoids to rats can help alleviate some depression symptoms. Medical marijuana is believed to work by restoring the brain’s levels of endocannabinoids, which are chemical compounds that affect an individual’s emotion, behavior and cognition.

Integrative approaches

Integrative therapies often take a holistic approach to treating mild to moderate depression. These approaches include:

  • Nutrition – A focus on improving nutrition (whether through diet or supplements) can help improve brain chemistry. While the best source of nutrition is from nutrient-dense organic foods, nutritional supplements can help balance the brain’s chemicals, thus easing depressive symptoms. The basic nutritional supplements include: a multivitamin with B6 and minerals; omega-3 fatty acids with EPA/DHA totaling 1,000-3,000 mg daily; vitamin D-3; and probiotics with two or more live cultures.
  • Mind-body practices – Meditation, hypnosis, relaxation training, imagery, yoga and Qigong have emerged in research as valid ways to help ease depression.
  • Botanical medicines – Some studies suggest that plant-based medicines such as St. John’s Wort, valerian and rhodiola can help quell depression.
  • Essential oils. Lavender, chamomile, basil and Frankincense have been found to be calming. In addition, bergamot and peppermint oil can also help with depression.
  • Nature-based therapies – Being outdoors or connected to nature in some way helps reduce depression.
  • Music therapy – Regularly listening to music can help ease depressive symptoms.
  • Animal-assisted therapies – Being around pets and Equine-Assisted therapy have been found to ease anxiety and depression.

Our understanding of depression has come a long way since those days in Mesopotamia. With many treatment options now available, people who suffer from depression should work closely with their doctors to determine what options work best for them. This personalized treatment plan can help an individual with depression lead a healthy, happy and fulfilled life.

Written by Dorian Martin; Assigned and Edited by Jennifer Buergermeister

Sources for This Sharepost:

Association for Psychological Science. (2016). Beck Proposes an Integrative Theory of Depression.

Crew, B. (2016). Ketamine Found to Have an ‘Unbelievable’ Effect in Treating Severe Depression. (2010). Integrative Approach to Depression?

Gregoire, C. (2015). New Study Finds Marijuana To Be Effective Against Depression. Huffington Post.

Lawson, K. & Towey, S. (ND). What Integrative Therapies and Healing Practices Might Help for Anxiety and Depression? University of Minnesota’s Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing.

Nemade, B., Reiss, N. S., & Dombeck, M. (2007). Historical Understandings of Depression. (2016). Blood Test to Personalize Depression Treatment for the First Time.

One Lifetime May Not Be Enough…

So are we only on this earth once? Or do we keep coming back and living life again?  Some groups – such as Hindus – believe in the cyclical nature of the universe.  Hindus believe that the soul is eternal and returns for multiple lives, although the y can come back in a human, animal or plant form.

A Return to Hollywood

While some people may think of reincarnation as far-fetched, cases continue to emerge that cause wonder. Take a recent Today Show segment that featured a story about a 10-year old boy named Ryan who talked about living a previous life based in Hollywood, CA. He said he began to experience horrible nightmares when he was four years old. By the time he was five years old, he told his mom of his other identity.  He eventually was able to identify a photo of himself from his former life and offer 55 obscure facts that matched what happened in that previous life. Researchers collaborated each of the facts (which were never published on the internet).

Ryan’s memory of an earlier life is one of many that have been described. In fact, the University of Virginia has studied more than 2,500 cases of children who describe having a former life.  Dr. Jim Tucker, the Bonner-Lowry Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia, is one of the leading researchers in this field. “I think these cases contribute to the body of evidence that consciousness – at least, in certain circumstances – can survive the death of the body; that life after death isn’t necessarily just a fantasy or something to be considered on faith, but it can also be approached in an analytic way, and the idea can be judged on its merits,” Dr. Tucker told NPR.

Signs of a Previous Life

While many of those who describe a previous life in detail are children, glimpses still can show up in adulthood.  According to author Dr. Brian Weiss, the body gives signals that may provide hints of a previous experience or relationship. These include:

  1. A sense of déjà vu – you sense that you’ve met a person before, had a similar experience or visited a place that you haven’t been to in your life.
  2. Realistic dreams – As noted in the story about Ryan, dreams offer a window into a past-life memory. Look for symbols and metaphors that may offer a message.
  3. Aptitudes for other cultures and languages – Being able to quickly pick up a foreign language or having an interest in a specific historical time, culture, person or event may suggest a glimpse into a past life.
  4. Identifying soul companions – Soul groups are believed to be involved in helping souls learn lessons and deal with karma over various lives. Thus, an older relative may come back as a member of a younger generation to help a person work through the lesson. This does not necessarily mean life long partnerships.

Written by Dorian Martin, Article Requested and Edited by Jennifer Buergermeister, MA

Sources for This Blog: (ND). Hinduism. (2013). 4 Signs You May Have Had a Past Life.

Tanner, J. (2015). Proof of reincarnation? Boy Gives Incredible Details of Past Life as Hollywood Extra.

Whitman, J. & McFadden, C. (2015). ‘Return to Life’: How Some Children Have Memories of Reincarnation.