Untreatable depression appears to be on the rise. The big pharmaceutical companies that manufacture seratonin based anti-depressant medication are no longer funding research into medication that contains seratonin. Instead researchers are now looking at other procedures and chemicals to treat depression. Though medication without counselling and psychotherapy is unlikely to be successful in treating depression, it can however enhance therapy.

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation for depression

According to the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) rTMS is described as not needing anaesthesia, it can be done on an outpatient basis. The way in which it is applied is viw a purpose‑made electromagnetic coil that is held against the scalp with the intention of inducing electric currents in the cerebral cortex. Imaging may be used to help target specific areas of the brain. Treatment is usually considered for patients with depression that has not responded to antidepressant medication or patients for whom antidepressants are not suitable.

In rTMS, repetitive pulses of electromagnetic energy are delivered at various frequencies or stimulus intensities. Conventional rTMS is a repetition of individual pulses at a pre‑set interval (train of pulses), whereas theta‑burst rTMS is a repetition of short bursts of pulses at a pre‑set interval (train of bursts). Stimulation can either be delivered unilaterally, over the left or right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, or bilaterally over both cortices. Bilateral stimulation may be done sequentially or simultaneously. Treatment with rTMS usually comprises daily sessions lasting about 30 minutes, typically for 2 to 6 weeks.

Ketamine and the Treatment of Depression

Extensive research is going on into the use of ketamine to treat depression.

Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London

In the last decade, a number of research groups in Europe and the Americas have conducted studies into the safety and effectiveness of psychedelics for conditions such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but the Imperial Centre for Psychedelic Research is the first to gain this level of stature within a major academic institution.

Please note that the details presented above regarding research into the use of certain chemicals to treat depression do not suggest that you use these drugs. They are being researched under clinical conditions and should not be used outside of a clinical environment.