Special Reports

New Novel Therapy Discovered to Help People With Depression



Photo : RyanMcGuire

A new study proposes that patients suffering from depression could strengthen their brain connections through guilt-evoking memories. The researchers found that through this novel type of therapy, depressed patients are able to increase their self-esteem, making them feel good inside. 

The researchers from the Institute for Research and Education in Brazil in collaboration with the King's College London discovered the connectivity between regions in the brain could be strengthened through neurofeedback training. This process is made functional through the use of magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) where images are captured before and after the procedure.

Depression, medically referred to as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), is a mental disorder caused by a variety of factors which can either be biological, psychological, or social in nature. College students, according to these studies, are prone to developing MDD because of the intense pressure to perform well in school. 

Continuous loss of interest and pleasure in daily life, as well as the prevalence of negative feelings, are just a few signs that characterize MDD. Patients in a depressive state also suffer from feelings of self-deprecation and low self-esteem. 

According to the data gathered by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2018, depression has affected 300 million people in the world. It has become the most disabling disease of contemporary times. 

Considering the problem has reached a global scale, the medical community continues to search for ways to understand the depressive disorder. Their goal is to possibly develop novel therapies that will improve the quality of life of these patients. 

The fMRI technique is a non-invasive way to analyze the human brain. The results of the study recently published showed that there are two specific areas in the brain that showed less connection when the patient is experiencing feelings of guilt: the anterior subgenual cingulate (SCC) and the anterior superior temporal (ATL).

By connectivity, the researchers are referring to the exchange of information between these two parts of the brain. Both areas of the brain are directly linked to how a person reacts to social interactions. The research looked into how these connections are strengthened through neurofeedback in real-time. 

The study included 28 participants diagnosed with remitted depressive symptoms. The team chose these people because they didn't want to risk people's depression to get worse during the proposed treatment. 

The goal of the team was to find an alternative treatment for people with depression. Though novel, the researchers are determined how this type of therapy helps a person deal with depression. They remain hopeful that the same therapy will help a person overcome depression through it. 

The team acknowledges the novelty of their proposed therapy, however, they see this only as an inspiration to pursue developing it even more. They believe that this is the first step to treat recurrent forms of depressive episodes. The team looks forward to a bigger study in the future involving more patients with MDD. 

Dr. Roland Zahn, professor at the King's College London and lead author of the study, said that they will continue to work on developing the efficacy of this novel approach. They published the results of their study in the Neuroimage: Clinical journal.

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