MHConcierge has posted several times about in emerging research trendS that finds these radical treatments to be remarkably beneficial for treatment-resistant depression, and recently three more studies have been published. Please note: MHConcierge reports, but does not endorse, these types of issues, and of course they continue to be pretty controversial. The science, however, is evolving, and is intriguing. It may provide insights into non-drug treatments that help people with treatment-resistant depression by helping them get neurologically “unstuck” or to “reboot their brain.” 

The first, “’ Magic Mushrooms’ Effective for Severe Depression,” was posted by Medscape psychiatry on 10-20-17. This article reviews the recent history of researching use of psilocybin as a treatment for treatment-resistant depression, and notes some deficiencies in the previous studies. For example, most of the studies were extremely short-term, and although they found some remarkable benefits the results were measured for only brief periods. The current study utilized to treatments with silicide been, under extremely controlled conditions of course, and followed up on the results after five weeks. The researchers found sustained benefits during the “afterglow”. Following the treatments, in contrast to previous studies which have focused on the “psychedelic experience” during and immediately after treatment. The article goes on to theorize, based on some pretty technical brain imaging that was part of the research, that psilocybin facilitates a “reboot” of the brain that results in a reduction in negative thinking and openness to new ways of thinking.

This article is available online, but may require a free subscription to Medscape Psychiatry.

This study was also discussed in a post by, “‘Magic mushrooms’ may ‘reset’ the brains of depressed patients, study suggests,” posted on 10-13-17, and available for free online.

Clinical psychiatry news posted “Video: Rethinking Deep Brain Stimulation for Depression” on 10-16-17. This online article provides a summary and an attached video from a recent conference report that reviewed treatment outcomes with DBS. To cut to the chase, “unfortunately, the study showed no significant benefits at six months.”  The study utilized “real” DBS vs “sham” treatment, with 90 subjects, randomized into two groups.  On  the other hand, the study continued with an “open label” format and found that at 18 months and 24 months the patients receiving actual DBS received much more “accumulated” treatment benefits.  The six month findings:  16 percent of the sham group and 20 percnet of the DBS group showed benefit, “much less than expected, and not a statistically significant different between the groups.”  The results of the sustain, open label treatment:  48 percent experienced significant improvement.  The attached video discussed the authors’ thinking about what this means for future DBS research:  “the anatomical location of the probe needs to be refined.”  The video is 8 minutes long.

The post and video are available online for free.

Finally, posted “Sleep deprivation is an effective antidepressant for nearly half of depressed patients, study suggests” on 9-19-17. This article is a meta-analysis review of research using sleep deprivation treatment, with more than 2000 studies over a 36 year. Reviewed, and a final group of 66 studies included in the final analysis. Sleep deprivation treatment is usually provided in controlled inpatient settings, and has been found to “rapidly reduce symptoms of depression roughly half of depressed patients.” Sleep deprivation treatment can be “partial sleep deprivation,” in which patients are allowed only 3 to 4 hours of sleep, followed by “forced wakefulness” for 20 to 21 hours. Or, it can be “total sleep deprivation” with 36 hours of forced wakefulness. Both treatments were found to be equally effective, which is fortunate for people who prefer to get some sleep that night. Adjunctive medication did not affect the results of the different treatments. Both treatments were found to result in significant he reduced depression symptoms within 24 hours.  The findings were consistent across different populations of depressed patients, including patients with treatment-resistant depression.

The article is available for free online.


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