Researchers divide depression into four different subtypes

Researchers divide depression into four different subtypes

Depression is a very common mental health condition characterized by persistent low moods, feelings of helplessness, sleep problems, low self-esteem, among others. Interestingly, every individual goes through a period of sadness and depression at some point in his or her life, which usually goes away on its own. But, when these symptoms make people feel completely unmotivated to do any task, it is a sign of a serious issue that cannot be passed on simply as the “blues.” Isolating from surroundings, detaching from friends and loved ones, alienating from the responsibility, and engrossing in self-thoughts are some of the other symptoms of depression.

Experts define depression as a brain disorder that causes severe impairments in a person’s day-to-day life. But, for a condition to be categorized as depression, it is important for the symptoms to persist for more than two weeks. However, based on the symptoms, which can range from relatively mild to very severe, depression can be divided into several categories.

A  December 2016 study, conducted by Weill Cornell Medicine, Cornell University and published in Nature Medicine, has thrown light on four unique subtypes of depression, categorized on the basis of their specific pattern of abnormal connectivity in the brain. Most importantly, the researchers identified biomarkers that can significantly help doctors to determine the subtype of depression in their patients.

Importance of understanding range of depressive conditions and their specific symptoms

Using magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scans of patients with clinical depression, the researchers identified certain biomarkers, which could help doctors better diagnose the subtype of the depression. In addition, these biomarkers have been found to be useful in figuring out patients who would most likely to benefit from a targeted neuro-stimulation therapy called transcranial magnetic stimulation (a process that uses magnetic fields to create electrical impulses in the brain).

The study further revealed that the subtypes of depression not only differ in terms of symptoms but also in their responses to a particular type of treatment. This leads to an accurate prediction of the patient’s response to the transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy. The researchers obtained the biomarkers by allocating statistical weights to the abnormal connections in the brain, and then, determined whether they belonged to a particular subtype or another. The results are considered to be revolutionary, since it usually takes nearly five weeks to understand if a specific type of treatment works for the patient or not.

“Depression is typically diagnosed based on things that we are experiencing, but as in election polling, the results you get depend a lot on the way you ask the question. Brain scans are objective,” said Dr. Conor Liston, an assistant professor of neuroscience in the Feil Family Brain and Mind Institute and an assistant professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medicine.

Traditionally, doctors identify depression by looking at certain symptoms that generally tend to co-occur, and then, establishing any neurophysiological links. Although past studies focused on different forms of depression, they could not establish a relationship between various types of depression and their underlying biological triggers.

Depression is treatable

In today’s stressful times, depression has emerged as one of the most common brain disorders. The first step toward treatment is to recognize the symptom of depression and then, seek professional help. However, it can lead to serious consequences, if left untreated for a long time.

So, if you or your loved one is suffering from depression, or any other mental health condition, contact the Depression Treatment Helpline to get information about various rehab centers for depression in the U.S. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-619-7729 or chat online with our representatives to know about one of the best depression help centers.