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A Hormone, A Magnet, And A Magic Mushroom: New Depression Research And Treatments

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For decades, treatment of depression has centered on neurotransmitters such as serotonin, and cognitive-behavioral therapies. While these treatments based on these factors are very effective for many patients, especially when combined, there are still some people who receive little benefit from them, and that may be true of you, or of someone you love. There is continuing research on what causes depression and how to treat it, and three avenues of study have be found to be very promising.

Ghrelin To Aid In Mood Moderation

Your stomach and intestines produce a hormone called ghrelin normally associated with appetite. This hormone contains antidepressant properties that include neurogenesis (forming new neurons) in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the area of the brain that moderates mood and memory.

Another compound called P7C3 is known to have neuro-protective abilities, so researchers have added it to ghrelin, and this increased the neurogenesis effects in the brain. This research may lead to a whole new class of antidepressant medications, and people experiencing the types of depression associated with ghrelin resistance and chronic stress will probably experience the biggest benefits from this potential treatment.

LFMS To Stimulate Depressed Brain Activity

One problem with many therapies for mood disorders is that they can take weeks to have any significant impact. Low-field magnetic stimulation (LFMS) is a treatment that uses high frequency magnetic fields to stimulate areas in the brain that have depressed activity.

LFMS has been shown to have an immediate and effect on patient's moods which makes it especially valuable for severely depressed patients. It has no reported side effects so far and does not cause memory loss that other treatments such as ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) cause.

Psilocybin To Peduce Negative Obsessional Thinking

Psilocybin, the psychedelic chemical in magic mushrooms, is found to slow down and disjoint the network of the brain associated with introspection, self-consciousness and high-level thinking. The 'disjointing of high-level thinking' may have you scratching your head with the thought "And this is a good thing?"

It turns out that this action does have some benefit because depression is 'associated with over-connectivity of the brain.' So depressed clients are much more inclined to ruminate about negative thoughts about themselves, other people, and situations. A therapeutic use of this chemical could be combined with counseling sessions to help liberate sufferers from obsessing on these things.

However, before you become tempted to try some do-it-yourself therapy, the US National Institute of Drug Abuse warns that psilocybin can:

  • Cause you to "have frightening experiences" and "experience panic reactions," which may result to harm to self and others.

  • Cause flashbacks.

  • Have an increased risk of psychiatric illness resulting from use.

  • Cause impaired memory.

Depression: A Complicated Condition

Depression is a complicated condition that can involve neurotransmitters, an overwhelmed mood-moderating system in the hippocampus, certain areas of under-stimulated neurons, and an over-connectivity in the brain resulting in obsessional thinking of a negative nature. Having new avenues of research is undoubtedly going to mean many more patients will find substantial relief from this debilitating condition. Talk to a psychiatrist, like those at Commonweath Affiliates PC, for more information on alternative treatments.