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Brain Scans may help identify whether Talk Therapy or Antidepressant Medication more likely to help a Patient recover from Depression

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Brain Scans may help identify whether Talk Therapy or Antidepressant Medication more likely to help a Patient recover from Depression
A depressed woman (representational Image), VOA
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New York, March 26, 2017: Researchers have found that specific patterns of activity on brain scans may help clinicians identify whether talk therapy or antidepressant medication is more likely to help a patient recover from depression.

“All depressions are not equal and like different types of cancer, different types of depression will require specific treatments,” said lead researcher Helen Mayberg, Professor at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, US.

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The study, published online in the American Journal of Psychiatry, randomly assigned patients to 12 weeks of treatment with one of two antidepressant medications or with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a talking therapy aimed at helping people manage their problems by changing the way they think and behave.

At the start of the study, patients underwent a functional MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) brain scan, which was then analysed to see whether the outcome from CBT or medication depended on the state of the brain prior to starting treatment.

The MRI scans identified that the degree of functional connectivity between an important emotion processing centre (the subcallosal cingulate cortex) and three other areas of the brain was associated with the treatment outcomes.

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Specifically, patients with positive connectivity between the brain regions were significantly more likely to achieve remission with talk therapy, whereas patients with negative or absent connectivity were more likely to remit with antidepressant medication.

“Using these scans, we may be able to match a patient to the treatment that is most likely to help them, while avoiding treatments unlikely to provide benefit,” Mayberg added.

These results suggest that achieving personalised treatment for depressed patients will depend more on identifying specific biological characteristics in patients rather than relying on their symptoms or treatment preferences. (IANS)

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Bacteria in The Gut May Lead to Anxiety, Depression

The researchers are now working to identify specific populations of bacteria involved in these processes and the molecules that the bacteria produce

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Bacteria in The Gut May Lead to Anxiety, Depression
Bacteria in The Gut May Lead to Anxiety, Depression. Pixabay

Gut bacteria plays a key role in infusing negative feelings in the brains of obese people, causing depression and anxiety, researchers say.

The findings showed that mice on a high-fat diet showed significantly more signs of anxiety, depression and obsessive behaviour than animals on standard diets.

In mice with high-fat diets, two areas of the brain, the hypothalamus, which helps to control whole body metabolism, and the nucleus accumbens, important in mood and behaviour, becomes insulin resistant.

“Your diet isn’t always necessarily just making your blood sugar higher or lower; it’s also changing a lot of signals coming from gut microbes and these signals make it all the way to the brain,” said C. Ronald Kahn, from the Joslin Diabetes Centre in the US.

“But all of these behaviours are reversed or improved when antibiotics that will change the gut microbiome were given with the high fat diet,” Kahn added.

Gut Bacteria.
Gut Bacteria. Pixabay

In the study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, the team identified the effect of the microbiome by transferring gut bacteria from experimental mice to germ-free mice which did not have any bacteria of their own.

The animals which received bacteria from mice on a high-fat diet began to show increased levels of activity associated with anxiety and obsessive behaviour.

However, those who got microbes from mice on a high-fat diet plus antibiotics did not, even though they did not receive the antibiotics themselves.

Also Read: Depression, Anxiety May Lead to Teeth Loss

The researchers are now working to identify specific populations of bacteria involved in these processes and the molecules that the bacteria produce.

“If we could modify those bacteria, either by putting in more beneficial bacteria or reducing the number of harmful bacteria, that might be a way to see improved behaviour,” Kahn noted. (IANS)