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Brain Pathway May Explain Depression

An understanding of depression has been an onerous task as a variety of factors often lead to development of the condition. Furthermore, effective treatment strategies range from psychotherapy to pharmaceuticals.

Now researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have identified one unifying principle that could explain how a range of causes and treatments for depression converge.

They found that in rats the differing mechanisms of depression and its treatment in the end appear to funnel through a single brain circuit.

Changes in how the electrical signals spread through the circuit appear to be the cause of depression-related behavior, according to their study.

Their findings will be published in Science Express, the advance online publication of the journal Science.

“I think this will help us make sense of how there can be so many different causes and treatments of depression,” said senior author Karl Deisseroth, MD, PhD, assistant professor of bioengineering and of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

“It also helps us understand conceptually how something that seems as hard to get traction on as depression can have a really quantitative, concrete basis.”

The work also may have implications for the search for new treatments for depression. “You can use that common pathway as the most efficient, most direct targeted way to find truly specific treatments,” he said.

Deisseroth, who sees many depressed patients in clinic, said he has come to appreciate how the bumps in the road that most people see as normal obstacles in life become insurmountable hurdles to depressed people, causing them to lapse into helplessness.

“The holy grail of psychiatry is to try to find final common pathways that can make sense of how genes and life experiences end up with the same result,” said Deisseroth.

“And the same goes for medications. There are many treatments that act in fundamentally different ways – how do we make sense of all that complexity”.

Deisseroth predicted that, as noninvasive imaging of human brains gets better in the next few years, researchers will be able to measure these same quantitative measures in people as well.

“That will be a wonderful thing when that happens,” he said.

Source: Stanford University

Brain Pathway May Explain Depression

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Brain Pathway May Explain Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 28, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2007/07/06/brain-pathway-may-explain-depression/960.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.