Clinical depression or major depression, a leading cause of disability across the world, has a huge socioeconomic impact, affecting time off work and productivity. Around 16 million adults in the United States (amounting to nearly 7 percent of the population) had at least one major depressive episode in 2015, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Depression, a common but serious mood disorder, may affect how a person feels, thinks, or perform daily activities including eating, sleeping and working. Recently, the University of Aberdeen recruited over 500 volunteers to understand depression in the new light.
Many experts see clinical depression as a set of different disorders, characterized by one common symptom i.e. low mood, rather than a single disease. However, this hypothesis is not backed by high quality research that could explain the presence of different brain disorders to cause the condition. Depression can be caused by a multitude of reasons and sometimes, lack of clear set of criteria can throw challenges at health care providers in identifying people at risk and treating them effectively.
The researchers at the Universities of Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh carried out the STRADL (Stratifying Resilience and Depression Longitudinally) study to understand depression better. They conducted blood tests, cognitive tests and brain scans of people with and without a history of depression to identify common risk factors in different sub-groups, and find new treatment options to treat the mental illness. The STRADL study was based on Generation Scotland, a huge resource of biological samples available for medical research.
Methodology and results
The researchers built their analysis on the 1950s Cohort of the Aberdeen Children and their relatives. They scanned each participant in an MRI machine to see differences in brain structure and function, which could be linked to the disease. The benefit of working with the cohort was that it allowed the researchers to compare people with depression to those who were vulnerable to similar risk factors but did not develop the same symptoms. In addition, the cognitive abilities of the participants were also tested through thinking and memory tests, and other clinical and emotional tests.
“The STRADL study aims to reclassify depression based on biology. By gathering information such as brain scans, cognitive tests and other clinical measurements, we hope to be able to better categorize people and as such identify more specific areas to develop new treatments,” said lead researcher Professor Alison Murray.
The researchers acknowledged the contribution of participants in the cause of developing better treatment programs for depression. They have reached halfway through their goal and invite more members to participate and lend their helping hand in developing better alternatives to treat this debilitating condition.
Dealing with depression
Depression carries a high risk of suicide. The persistent gloom, and feelings of low self-worth and hopelessness along with physical conditions arising out of disturbed sleeping patterns and eating disorders subjugate an individual’s mind. The symptoms, when left untreated, can bear negative outcomes for the family as well.
Therefore, if you know anybody who is exhibiting signs of depression, seek immediate medical assistance. Procrastinating treatment will worsen symptoms. Early you report the symptoms, better the treatment outcome. You can also contact the Depression Treatment Helpline for information related to treatment alternatives and best depression help centers offering effective interventions for holistic recovery. Chat online or call the 24/7 helpline number 866-619-7729 for assistance in finding the best residential programs for depression.