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While depression is seen as a brain disorder, the vast majority of those treating depression never look at the underlying brain function of the individual they are treating.
There are different types of depression. For example,those who have suffered with depression all their life may feel exhausted and out of hope. In terms of brain function, this type of depression is different from a depression that occurs after years of anxiety; a “burnt out depression”, and requires different types of interventions. Understanding that this is a brain condition, unrelated to “not trying hard enough” can give hope for change and new ways to experience life. Evaluating the brain directly gives insight into to the type of depression that is present and helps to direct an individualized treatment plan.
Depression in the United States
Affects over 18 million adults (one in ten) in any given year. Is the leading cause of disability for ages 15-44.
Depression in the workplace
Causes 490 million disability days from work each year in the U.S.
Accounts for $23 billion in lost workdays each year.
Takes an economic toll over $100 billion each year from U.S. business.
Despite marked increases in antidepressant drug prescriptions in the past three decades, the incidence of depression is still on the rise in this country. This calls into question the clinical benefits attributed to antidepressant medication. The benefits of antidepressant medications have been largely based on industry funded shot-term trials. This research itself has been challenged, as well as the long term benefits of antidepressants. For example, two long term effectiveness trials of one year duration found no clinically important effect for long term antidepressant use.
(Rush AJ, Trivedi M, Carmody TJ, Biggs MM, Shores-Wilson K, Ibrahim H, et al: One-year clinical outcomes of depressed public sector outpatients: a benchmark for subsequent studies. Biol Psychiatry 2004; 56: 46–53; Pigott HE, Leventhal AM, Alter GS, Boren JJ: Efficacy and effectiveness of antidepressants: current status of research. Psychother Psychosom 2010; 79: 267–279.)