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Is there a link between metabolic deficiencies and treatment resistant depression? New research shows that this could be the case. The research shows that diagnosing and treating many metabolic disorders in patients with treatment resistant depression could lead to improved outcomes, or even complete remission from the depression in some cases. According to professor and University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry chair David Lewis, M.D., “What’s really promising about these new findings is that they indicate that there may be physiological mechanisms underlying depression that we can use to improve the quality of life in patients with this disabling illness.” Approximately 15 million adults in the USA alone suffer from depression and the global numbers are much larger.

Treatment resistant depression is a big problem, and more than 65% of suicides are caused by major depressive disorder or what is commonly called depression. This is one of the most common mental disorders but many patients do not respond well to typical treatments. Pitt School of Medicine professor of psychiatry, and clinical and translational science Lisa Pan, M.D., was the lead study investigator. According to Dr. Pan “Major depressive disorder, usually referred to simply as depression, affects nearly 15 million American adults and is one of the most common mental disorders. Unfortunately, at least 15 percent of patients don’t find relief from conventional treatments, such as antidepressant medications and psychotherapy.” Pan explained that “Over a period of years, we tried every treatment available to help this patient, and yet he still found no relief from his depression symptoms. It’s really exciting that we now have another avenue to pursue for patients for whom our currently available treatments have failed, This is a potentially transformative finding for certain groups of people with depression.”

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