According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in 10 adults in the United States report having depression, although experts say the numbers are higher since many people aren’t properly diagnosed.
Fortunately for patients living with depression, there are several drugs on the market, but unfortunately, some of the medications don't work as fast as some doctors and patients would like.
To help patients get faster and longer relief from antidepressants, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) conducted research on the experimental drug AZD6765, which scientists believe could provide more immediate results for those suffering from depression, particularly those patients who haven’t responded well to other drugs or other types of mental therapy.
The study consisted of 22 volunteers, all suffering from various forms of depression, and each person filled out a survey so researchers could determine what type of depression each person had.
Researchers then gave half of the participants AZD6765 and the other half placebo and later in the study the two groups switched. Eventually, the placebo group started taking AZD6765 and the treatment group began taking placebo.
The results showed that 32 percent of the participants had positive effects from the drug--with feelings of relief for up to 48 hours--while others reported relief only lasting 30 minutes.
Experts say AZD6765 works because of its ability to prevent a chemical in the brain called glutamate from attaching itself to nerve cells, thus lowering the chances of depressive feelings ever developing.
Other antidepressant drugs like ketamine are known to work quickly and in the same way, however AZD6765 was found to have fewer side effects.
In a previous and separate study, scientists learned those taking ketamine had lasting positive results for up to a week, which shows the drug may be more potent than AZD6765, despite its side effects.
But researchers in the recent NIMH study were still pleased with the results and appeared to be excited about AZD6765 and its possibilities of treatment.
“Our findings serve as a proof of concept that we can tap into an important component of the glutamate pathway to develop a new generation of safe, rapid-acting practical treatments for depression,” said head researcher Dr. Carlos Zarate, of NIMH.
The new findings are important experts say, especially for those patients suffering from depression who may also be suicidal, as immediate relief for a lot of mental patients has been elusive for quite some time.
Dr. Zarate also said these new findings could have a colossal impact within the health community and greatly assist those suffering from the serious mental disease.
“One infusion of a low dose of the medication resulted in rapid effects within two hours compared with many weeks for many of our current treatments,” he told a news outlet.
“In addition, those who responded had tried many of our medications. This proved that rapid antidepressant effects can be done in very sick people within a very short period of time. This could have a real impact on public health.”
“From now on, it’s a matter of looking at different doses, repeated doses, etc. It also opens that door for other investigations and industry to jump in and see if they can identify other agents that work rapidly without the side-effects of ketamine.”
Most likely to suffer
In a separate study conducted by the CDC, scientists found that those aged 45-64 are most likely to suffer from depression, along with women, African Americans, Hispanics, and people who were married but are now single.
The CDC study also showed those without health insurance or unable to secure employment make up a large portion of patients suffering from depression.