Understanding Mental Disorder
We now have many more options for treating depression than we did only twenty years ago. However, there are still cases in which recovery from depression remains elusive. For these cases, strategies that are sometimes helpful, in alternative to traditional antidepressants, include:
- Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
There is no failsafe way to predict who will respond to which treatment. We know that there are individual differences in the way people respond to medications, which are based on their genes. Pharmacogenomics is a branch of genetics that uses knowledge about genetic variability to predict individual response to medications, to certain nutrients and to some aspects of lifestyle, such as exercise. It is now possible to investigate a host of genes that are relevant to mental health. A simple cheek swab is used to extract a DNA sample and to identify the specific versions of those genes a particular individual has. Based on this information, it is possible to predict whether in that individual a particular medication will likely cause side effects or whether higher / lower doses need to be used for it to be effective.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
In Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or rTMS, a magnetic coil is used to generate a magnetic field in order to stimulate or inhibit brain activity. rTMS is not an invasive procedure, as the coil is simply placed over an area of the patient’s head, where it can send its stimuli almost without them being aware. By selecting particular placements, frequencies, waveforms and repetitions, rTMS can be used to elicit changes in brain activity that ultimately, over a course of sessions, lead to changes in mood.
Studies have shown that when conventional antidepressants have failed, a range of psychedelic (‘mind-revealing’) drugs such as LSD and ketamine can help achieve remission from depression. Most powerful psychedelic drugs are illegal, but ketamine is not and recently a version of ketamine has become available for use in treatment-resistant depression. As ketamine has some abuse potential, it is a controlled drug, which can only be legally taken at the clinic, in the presence of a clinician. In order to maximise the benefits and minimise the risks of ketamine, Cognacity have developed a clinic (the first in the UK) offering Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy: for more information click here.