New Findings In Depression

The following new findings come from presentations at the CANMAT Mood & Brain conference, 2014.


1. Can brain imaging (like fMRI) predict treatment response in depression?

Currently it is very hard to know which patient responds best to which treatment in depression based on clinical assessments alone. Researchers are therefore now looking at the brain itself – before, during and after depression treatment – to see if they can predict who will respond best to treatment. This research is being done using a brain-imaging tool called fMRI (the ‘f’ stands for ‘functional’), which is similar to the more familiar MRI, except instead of showing static images, it shows real time images of brain function while performing tasks, so one can see which parts of the brain are used the most for those tasks. It turns out that at least two areas of the brain: 1) the rostral anterior cingulate cortex & 2) dorsomedial prefrontal cortex are showing potentially promising signs of being able to predict treatment response. The future of the research lies in integrating these findings with clinical and genetic findings to develop a ‘formula’ to predict response.

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2. New Findings For Ketamine As A Treatment For Depression

A study published in the year 2000 found that ketamine may be a highly effective treatment for depression. Since then, a large number of studies were conducted on ketamine, many of them supporting these findings. In this talk, Dr. Gerard Sancora outlined how ketamine likely works, as well as some strong limitations of these studies based on more recent research. Namely that we don’t know: 1) the long-term effectiveness or safety of this treatment 2) the optimal dosing 3) whether there could be negative interactions with other drugs. Finally Dr. Sancora discussed some newer Ketamine-like drugs that are being developed (e.g. Lanicemine) to counteract the negative effects of ketamine.

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3. Ketamine use in Psychiatry—is it safe?

Many studies on the drug ketamine has shown it to potentially be a highly effective treatment for chronic pain relief, and a potential alternative to opioids like morphine and oxycodone. Ketamine also is being used for many psychiatric problems, particularly depression. But just what is the safety profile of ketamine, and how has it been used for pain There are some important side effects to be noted with ketamine , including heart problems, hypertension, headaches and hallucinations. There may also be some challenges with abuse, and ketamine use has been compared to cannabis for pain relief in this regard. Overall, the track record of safety and longevity of use of ketamine for pain is reassuring for consideration of use of ketamine for psychiatric disorders.

To see the full article click here.