Well Being

New Study Could Explain Why Antidepressants Are Life-Saving For Some, Make Others Into Zombies

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brain secrets unlocked

I, for one, think antidepressants are better than sliced bread (I mean, really, you can tear bread yourself). I've known many folks, however, who hated every moment of being on them, insisting the medication made them sluggish, weird or, most commonly, “zombie”-like.

There are many different types of antidepressants, and some of this variance in experience can be chalked up to that. But for reasons doctors still don't quite understand, some people diagnosed with depression just don't respond well to any antidepressants. Why?

We may be one-step closer to figuring that out—or, at least, figuring out who is likely to respond well and who isn't. A new study headed from Emory University neurologist Helen Mayberg was able to pinpoint particular brain region activity associated with particular antidepressant outcomes for patients.

Mayberg and team used a PET scan to look at the brain activity of 38 patients who had been diagnosed with major depressive disorder. Those who showed increased brain cell activity in the right insula region of the brain responded better to antidepressant treatment.

Those with less metabolic activity in this region tended showed a poor response to antidepressants and fared better with cognitive behavioral therapy.

Further research is needed, of course—but if this pans out, doctors could have a telltale biomarker that guides them in depressed patients' treatment. That could save patients from “monts of ineeffective therapy,” Mayberg said.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown, Liz Nolan Brown, Elizabeth Brown, Elizabeth N Brown, health writer, nutritionist, mental health, depression, antidepressants, journalist
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