Patients’ BMI may be instrumental in treating depression, finds study

Patients’ BMI may be instrumental in treating depression, finds study

Depression is one of the most common mental disorders affecting people worldwide. It is a mood disorder associated with feelings of helplessness and persistent sadness that can leave one irritable and pessimistic about the future. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that nearly 300 million people worldwide are affected by depression irrespective of age or gender. In the United States, the lifetime risk of major depression is nearly 17 percent but at any given stage, 3 to 5 percent adults suffer from it, as suggested by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).

The traditional approaches to treating depressive disorders are through medication, behavioral therapies or a combination of both. It varies from one person to another as the condition affects different people differently. In general, treatment starts with a diagnosis by a mental health professional involving a series of questions to determine whether the symptoms are that of depression or some other mental or a physical condition. This is followed by patient’s self-reported symptoms.

Past research suggests that antidepressants have side effects and they increase the likelihood of dependence and addiction. As the objective tools to assess mental health condition are missing, patients have to go through the ‘trial and error’ approach involving different types of antidepressants in order to find the one that works well for them. It is difficult to predict which antidepressant is best suited for an individual. A new study has suggested a new route for personalized pharmacological treatment for depression. The findings have been published online in the journal Personalized Medicine in Psychiatry in May 2017.

Factors helpful in choosing the appropriate antidepressant

The study states that the patient’s body mass index (BMI), gender and symptoms can be used to determine a personalized treatment that guides antidepressant choice and significantly improves treatment outcomes. The researchers analyzed data from 659 patients aged 18-65 years, who were suffering from clinical depression. They were randomly prescribed one of the three antidepressants, namely sertraline, venlafaxine-XR or escitalopram, and observed for eight weeks. Their height and weight were recorded and they were asked to complete the 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale before and after the treatment to measure severity of the condition. It was found that participants with higher BMI were remitted from venlafaxine-XR due to reduction in physical symptoms including sleep disturbance, anxiety and diet changes. The results remained uniform in both males and females. The participants also recorded changes in cognitive symptoms including suicidal ideation and feeling of guilt.

According to the lead author, Erin Green, Ph.D., VA Palo Alto Healthcare System and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, the study paves way for modern psychiatry to adopt new clinical practices where “there are currently no indicators and algorithm available for guiding treatment choice for patients with depression.”

Recovery road map

Depression can take complete control of a person’s life affecting his/her daily activities, straining relationships with self, family and the community, and instilling feelings of dejection and low confidence. It also arouses feelings of self-harm and suicide and often, people end up abusing drugs or alcohol. The researchers are hopeful about the efficacy of the study findings in primary care settings where doctors have access to the required information without added costs.

If you or your loved one is looking for the best depression rehab centers in Arizona, the Arizona Depression Helpline can help you connect. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number (866) 233-3895 or chat with one of our trained professionals to know more about various depression treatment programs in Arizona that are best suited to an individual’s needs.