When depressed patients don't respond to drug treatment, they need a better treatment

Ready to respond

Put yourself in the shoes of a drug researcher. Especially a researcher who studies antidepressants.

To start, you know you’re there for a reason. The drug company is footing the bill. It won’t be at all pleasant to go back and tell them their drug is a bust.

And then you’ve got those pesky, unpredictable subjects to deal with!

Some of them don’t respond to an antidepressant at all. Meanwhile, others actually improve when given a placebo.

How frustrating can you get! Gee… It’s almost as if depressed patients don’t suffer from an antidepressant drug deficiency.

A “great, huge” advantage

For any given drug, many patients have no response at all. This is a little detail the drug industry doesn’t like to talk about. Especially when it comes to antidepressants.

A recent study highlights “non-responders” in antidepressant trials. In fact, a Reuters report on the trial zeroed right in with this headline… “Some depressed people do worse on drugs.”

Uh oh. Apparently somebody cancelled the drug company love-fest. At least for this study anyway.

The Reuters report pointed out that some non-responders may become more depressed while coping with side effects such as poor sleep and stomach problems.

Then one expert went a little off-topic from the trial itself. He told Reuters that researchers are trying to figure out a typical profile of patients who respond to antidepressants.

If they could do that, he says… “It would be a great, huge advantage for the field.”

Notice that he doesn’t say it would be a great huge advantage for patients. No. It would be an advantage for “the field.” In other words, drug companies and researchers.

But what about people? You know — people who aren’t in the field? What about real people feeling the confusing, hopeless emotions that come with depression?

As I already mentioned, nobody has ever suffered from an antidepressant drug deficiency. But plenty of depressed patients HAVE suffered from omega-3 deficiency.

Brain cells are coated with fats. And when the fats are omega-3 fatty acids, the cells function better. And that includes brain cell receptors that process serotonin, the hormone that may help regulate our sense of well being.

Last year I told you about a study of EPA, an omega-3 fatty acid. In a cohort of subjects with “persistent depression,” one gram of EPA daily significantly reduced depressive symptoms.

And here’s the best part. Before the study began, all the patients had been unable to control their depression with antidepressant drugs.

If depressed patients followed the EPA protocol for two months — adding ample amounts of vitamin D3 and B vitamins (especially B-12) — you would probably end up with an impressive set of excellent responders.

“Trajectories of Depression Severity in Clinical Trials of Duloxetine” Archives of General Psychiatry, Vol. 68, No. 12, December 2011, archpsyc.ama-assn.org

“Some depressed people do worse on drugs: study” Genevra Pittman, Reuters, 12/12/11, reuters.com

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