Fresh ideas about the causes of depression are bringing new treatments

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By upending nan thought that a chemic imbalance successful nan encephalon is down depression, we are starting to understand immoderate of its mysteries and create amended treatments

By Clare Wilson

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Giulia Neri

LAST year, 1 of our astir commonly held ideas astir slump was turned upside down. “Antidepressants study casts uncertainty connected narcotics taken by 8m people,” The Times newspaper stated successful July. Other publications ran likewise alarming headlines. Depression is 1 of nan biggest aesculapian problems facing societies worldwide, treatments person agelong been arguable and present was investigation showing that Prozac and different communal antidepressants are based connected a defunct presumption astir what causes nan condition. The study’s lead interrogator moreover went arsenic acold arsenic to propose that immoderate benefits from specified medicines travel from a placebo effect.

Most antidepressant narcotics are said to activity by restoring levels of a brain-signalling chemic called serotonin, an thought sometimes known arsenic nan “chemical imbalance” presumption of depression. But nan study recovered that, contrary to what we person been told for decades, slump isn’t really caused by debased serotonin. This was a footwear successful nan teeth for nan galore group who consciousness they dangle connected antidepressants. It besides raises a cardinal question: if debased serotonin can’t explicate depression, past what can? That isn’t nan only enigma concerning nan condition. We besides don’t cognize really talking aliases electroconvulsive therapies work, nor do we understand nan effect of genetics aliases accent connected intelligence health.

Yet, contempt each this uncertainty, immoderate astonishing advancement is being made. Two caller treatments person precocious go disposable and others successful nan pipeline show promise. “The level of subject is much precocious than this insubstantial implies,” says Carmine Pariante astatine King’s College London. “Things are not arsenic bleak arsenic they appear.”

The 2 halfway features of slump are debased temper and a …