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Electroconvulsive Therapy and Other Depression Treatments


Are There any Experimental Depression Therapies Being Tested?

Experimental therapies are treatments that are not regularly used by doctors. Their safety and effectiveness are still being studied.

Some experimental therapies currently being investigated for treatment of depression include:

  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in women: Depression is more common in women than in men. Changes in mood with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), post-childbirth, and postmenopause are all linked with sudden drops in hormone levels. Hormone replacement is a treatment currently used to relieve symptoms of menopause such as night sweats and hot flashes. HRT can also help prevent bone-thinning osteoporosis. However, the true contribution of hormones to depression is not known. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have had depression before and are considering HRT.
  • Intravenous ketamine:The anesthetic agent ketamine has been shown in preliminary studies to produce a rapid (within hours) improvement in depression for same patients.
  • Riluzole: This medicine, originally used to treat motor neuron disorders such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease), has been shown also to affect neurotransmitters involved in depression, and has begun to show promise in treating depression that is unresponsive to more traditional medicines.


Can Depression Return if You Stop Treatment?

Even when treatment such as ECT, TMS, vagus nerve stimulation, or other alternative therapies is successful, depression can return. Psychotherapy and/or maintenance antidepressant medication can help prevent depression from coming back. Psychotherapy does this by correcting the beliefs, perceptions, and behaviors that contribute to your depression. If you do experience recurring symptoms, don't hesitate to seek help again.

What Is the Outlook for Depression?

The outlook for depressed people who seek treatment is very promising. By working with a qualified and experienced mental health care professional, you can regain control of your life.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on August 21, 2014
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