UC Berkeley Press Release

Thursday, November 29, 2007 

Depression - New Treatments Are Available

Depression doesn't change. It is a serious illness that requires treatment. The treatments of the past had devastating side effects. We can't have a discussion of new Depression treatments without touching on past treatments.

Past Treatments

Anti-depressants have been around for sometime. Early versions of these drugs often left people lethargic, "out of it", and not able to function. As advances have been made, the side effects do not interfere so much with being able to function. They are more unseen effects except by the patient.

Electroconvulsive Therapy is also known as shock treatments. A general anesthetic and a muscle relaxer is administered to the patient. Electrodes are placed on the head and precise electric pulses are delivered. If the procedure was done correctly, seizure activity will occur. Due to the muscle relaxer, the seizure is only evidenced by slight movement in the hands and feet. The patient awakens some minutes later and is often confused. After prolonged treatments, there is the possibility of memory loss and movement disorders

New Treatments

Advances in the treatment of Depression are being made all the time. Old treatments are modified and made better. The newer treatments work better and many medications have fewer side effects. Medications still have serious side effects for some people. The newer anti-depressants are also used at lower doses and are better tolerated.

Booster Drugs are now being used and their function is to enhance the effects of the primary drug, typically on antidepressants. These however, are only effective about 50% of the time. Popular Booster Drugs include Astonel, Lithium, and Ritalin.

TMS - Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation currently is considered as experimental and is not approved by the Federal Drug Administration. Some hospitals and clinics are already offering it because it is an effective, drug free and non-invasive procedure. A magnetic coil is charged with electrical pulses. The coil is passed over the scalp and the pulses penetrate the skull directly stimulating the nerve cells in the brain. TMS has the potential of becoming a very precise procedure.

Herbal treatments are not new, ancient tribes and Shaman have used them for centuries in tribal rituals and in healing. They can stand alone or can be gathered into a supplement that is blended with other nutritive substances such as vitamins, amino acids, and minerals. Herbal Depression treatments include herbs that affect mood. The highest quality herbal supplements have had the ingredients metabolic paths tested as well as the interaction of the ingredients. They should be made to pharmaceutical standards. This ensures the effectiveness, the potency, and the safety of your supplement. You will also be guaranteed to be getting exactly what is on the label


Depression and new treatments are being discovered regularly. Researchers are making great advances in treating Depression. Although, right now some are considered experimental or not currently approved by the FDA- Federal Drug Administration, in the case of TMS - Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is being offered in some hospitals and clinics. Newer medications have fewer side effects and are better tolerated. You and your doctor can decide together the best course of treatment for your particular needs.

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