Depression is a widespread health issue, and it doesn’t have just one face. It affects men, women, and children of all races and backgrounds. In the U.S., about 16.2 million adults and 3.1 million adolescents have experienced a major depressive episode. Many of those adults likely never sought treatment.
If you’re one of them, perhaps you’ve been able to confidently manage your depression with lifestyle adjustments. Or maybe you haven’t heard of all the new treatments for depression that don’t require high medical bills or dealing with the side effects of antidepressants. Some of these new treatments are from the earth. Others are focused on innovative technology.
But before diving into these promising pathways, let’s take a closer look at some of the barriers people face in treating depression.
The Barriers to Treating Depression
There are many reasons someone might not get help for depression, and each one could be as unique as every individual. Researchers got curious and wanted to identify at least some of the potential barriers, so they took a sample of 20,785 adults who had been diagnosed with depression in the last 12 months.
Among those sampled, 30% acknowledged the need for treatment but didn’t receive any help. Those people were provided with a list of 15 potential reasons for not getting the mental health treatment or counseling they needed. The majority of participants chose only one statement. The most common justification related to the cost of treatment. About 22% of participants thought they could handle their depression on their own. Fifteen percent were concerned they would be forced to take medication.
Treatment is too expensive.
It’s not unusual to be concerned about the cost of treatment, especially if you don’t have health insurance. But with so many treatment centers offering flexible payment options, you can overcome this obstacle.
I can handle symptoms without treatment.
Depression is a serious mental health condition that affects you biologically, psychologically, emotionally, and socially. The symptoms of depression can be debilitating. To ignore these symptoms is to put your job, your relationships, and even your life at risk.
I might be forced to take medication.
Medication is the most common form of treatment for depression. On the plus side, there are several different kinds of antidepressants, which increases the odds of finding one that suits your symptoms.
On the other hand, there are quite a few drawbacks to taking antidepressants. First, to eventually find the right medication, your doctor may have you try a few different types at varying doses.
There’s also the potential for side effects, which can include:
- Weight gain
- Reduced sex drive
- Dry mouth
- Blurred vision
For many people, these side effects are simply not worth the risk. Others don’t like the idea of taking a medication every day, indefinitely. In some cases, medication is not an effective form of treatment for their depression.
These concerns are valid, but that doesn’t mean all hope is lost! With new treatments for depression making waves, there are plenty of other options to consider.
New Treatments for Depression
To break down the most common barriers to getting help, researchers have developed new treatments for depression that are more natural and come with less risk of side effects. Some of the innovative therapies include:
- Cannabidiol (CBD) oil
- Magic mushrooms
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
Before you have a conversation with your doctor, learn a bit about what these treatments are, how they work, and if they might benefit you.
1. Ketamine for Depression
What It Is
Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic, meaning it blocks your sensory perception. That’s what makes it a pain reliever. Though it’s not commonly used for sedation, ketamine has been approved for use as a general anesthetic. At high doses, it can produce:
- Out-of-body experiences
- Mystical mindsets
For these reasons, ketamine is sometimes used as a recreational drug.
How Ketamine Works for Depression
When it comes to using ketamine for depression, the impact on your body is a little unclear. One theory proposed by two Yale professors suggests it rapidly increases the production of glutamate. This neurotransmitter is involved in several brain activities, including:
- Pain recognition
It also “reverses the synaptic deficits caused by chronic stress,” according to their 2012 study.
Previous research has proven that when you have depression, the size of your brain regions that regulate mood and cognition is reduced. Synaptic connections in these areas is less as well. Traditional antidepressants block or reverse this type of damage, but the effects can take weeks or months. Ketamine showed improvement in suicidal thoughts after just 24 hours.
Who It Benefits
Because ketamine can have such a quick effect on depressive symptoms, it can be beneficial if you’re in need of fast-acting treatment, like if you have suicidal thoughts.
Esketamine for Depression
Many patients living with depression are treatment-resistant. This means no drugs, therapies, or treatments have offered them relief. A new drug, similar to ketamine, may provide an answer. The FDA has just approved esketamine as a remedy for hard-to-treat depression.
Sold under the brand name Spravato™, esketamine is a close cousin of ketamine. It can similarly induce hallucinations and out-of-body experiences, as well as be used as an anesthetic. Patients with depression are less likely to feel these effects because esketamine comes in the form of a nasal spray in low doses.
Side effects of esketamine include:
- Dizziness and sedation
- Difficulty with thinking, judgment, and attention
2. CBD Oil for Depression
What It Is
The cannabis plant produces thousands of chemical compounds. The most recognized are the cannabinoids: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Cannabidiol oil is the concentrated form of cannabidiol that doesn’t produce the “high” of marijuana. It can be used as cooking oil, added to food, or taken orally via a controlled-dose dropper.
How CBD Oil Works for Depression
CBD has shown to influence your body’s serotonin system by activating the serotonin 1A receptor (or 5-HT1A receptor). Serotonin receptors regulate the release of hormones that influence:
- Pain perception
A boost in serotonin can have a positive effect on mood.
CBD oil may also counter the effects of chronic stress, which is a common in depression. During chronic stress, the hippocampus region of your brain produces neurons (neurogenesis) more slowly. CBD oil helps promote neuron survival and neurogenesis.
Who It Benefits
Pre-clinical evidence strongly suggests that CBD oil can treat:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Panic disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Its neuroprotective properties make CBD oil helpful for those who suffer with both anxiety and depression.
3. Magic Mushrooms for Depression
What It Is
“Magic mushrooms” is a common name for a psilocybin mushroom, which contains psychedelic compounds. The Food and Drug Administration recently approved the use of magic mushrooms in a drug trial for treatment-resistant depression. But studies have already shown that psilocybin therapy, combined with psychological support, can be a safe and effective form of treatment for depression.
How Magic Mushrooms Work for Depression
One of the most common symptoms of major depressive disorder is negative thinking or being unable to see positive solutions. This mindset is exactly what a dose of magic mushrooms targets in people with depression. Some studies suggest that classical psychedelic compounds, like psilocybin, “can promote enduring changes in personality traits, attitudes and beliefs.”
Who It Benefits
Treatment with psilocybin can produce or temporary drug effects, similar to what you might experience if you used magic mushrooms recreationally. In at least one small study, patients tolerated the drug effects well, and there were no serious negative events. Not everyone is comfortable with the idea of taking psychedelics, but for some people, they’re worth exploring.
4. TMS for Depression
What It Is
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) delivers electromagnetic pulses to your brain, typically to the prefrontal cortex. It’s a non-invasive, FDA-approved form of treatment for depression. And it’s a simple and short in-office procedure. It takes between 18 and 19 minutes.
How TMS Works for Depression
Transcranial magnetic stimulation delivers electromagnetic pulses to your prefrontal cortex. This region of your brain is responsible for regulating your mood. When your prefrontal cortex is inactive, your mood can decline. By stimulating these brain cells, activity can return to a healthy level for a better mood.
Who It Benefits
This form of neuromodulation has been well-studied and FDA-approved for treatment-resistant depression. If you haven’t had success with antidepressants, TMS therapy could help. Because it’s a non-invasive, drug-free treatment, TMS side effects are minimal to none. This can be especially beneficial if you can’t tolerate or don’t want to take antidepressants.
Take an Alternate Route to Feeling Better
For decades, antidepressants and psychotherapy were the go-to prescriptions for treating depression. Since then, your options for antidepressants haven’t changed much. Thankfully, new treatments for depression are breaking barriers that may have prevented you from taking the initial step to get help.
If you want to learn more about TMS therapy for your depression, call 800-604-0208. HPR Treatment Centers can help you figure out whether it’s right for you.