Thursday, January 9, 2014

Depression Descriptions (And new links)

The misunderstanding of depression is terrifying.  For a disease that is real, there are so many people who still believe depression is a weakness.  I've recently run across a couple of good descriptions of the horror of this disease and the debilitating effects it has.

The first comes from a book published in 2005.  The book is primarily about stress and how humans deal with stress in comparison to other animals.  From my limited understanding of the studies discussed in the book, the bio-chemical interactions haven't really panned out for finding cures or treatments. However, the author's description of the depths of depression is one of the best I've read - especially considering he has never experienced it himself.  The book is "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers".  The link will take you to Amazon just because that's where I got mine.  Chapter 14 brings Depression into the mix with the stress that  the author, Robert M. Sapolsky, covers.  For anyone who has loved ones who "don't get it",  Sapolsky contrasts the "blahs" with the paralyzing symptomology of major depression in a layman's terms, in the very first part of that chapter.  The parts after get a little more clinical but still very understandable, going over the biology of depression, etc. 

I recommend this because one of my loved ones happened to read it.  She and I had a very meaningful discussion about my condition and I finally felt like she understood.  (Again, if you do pick up the book, be aware that the chemical studies that sounded very promising haven't really panned out.  The Glucocorticoids, according to my team, are markers but not predictors, of depression.  You don't have to get that in-depth into the book in order to use the Depression section to help others understand the disease).

The second great description I found comes from TED. is one of my favorite pleasures.  Some of the greatest minds and speakers are found on TED on an amazingly wide variety of topics.  Check it out next time you've flipped through all the TV channels and found nothing.  The talks are usually under 20 minutes (which is great for my own ADD).  Inspiration and education.

The TED talk that blew me away is by Andrew Solomon.  It is titled: "Andrew Solomon, the secret we share".  I've not read it, but he wrote a book that obviously won some great kudos (from TED: Solomon’s last book, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, won the 2001 National Book Award for Nonfiction, was a finalist for the 2002 Pulitzer Prize, and won fourteen other national awards.)

Regarding the anonymous posting from last month and the Broaden Study, my own belief and hope is that everyone realizes this is a looooong-term study.  I believe they had implants in 2013, though I have no specifics, logically one would presume that their 'research' would continue for 4 years and 6 months from the last implant.  But, that would be logic.  I know from following one of the original Canadians that she has continued to improve.  But she has Canadian medicine - who knows, maybe there is a loophole in the new Affordable Care mumbo-jumbo that would make insurance companies accept our "pre-existing" conditions and DBS treatment for those who have gotten relief.

Herb's commentary on the FDA and trial studies has a lot of merit and I encourage anyone interested in what has happened in the past follow his links.  I pray history doesn't repeat itself.  


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the book review. It looks like a good read and may help some of my family to better understand what I go through.
Regarding the Broaden Study, I'm not writing it off entirely but things aren't looking good. The FDA has put the brakes on the study so it will not enroll any new participants.
While the study is over a year old, the results so far are not encouraging and the device manufacturer is scaling back on monitoring and programming.
It appears that a possible major misstep was made, by not including fMRI mapping prior to implanting the electrodes.
Only time will tell whether and when DBS develops into an effective and reliable treatment for refractory depression.
Unfortunately, that progress may not occur in time for many of us who currently suffer from this disease.

Anonymous said...

It now appears that St. Judes' BROADEN Study has been completely shut down. The website indicates the study is closed and not accepting new participants.
It seems that St. Jude believed it could just insert electrodes into the anatomy of Broadmann Area 25, without paying attention to the white matter tracts that Dr. Mayberg and others are proving to be critically important to successful DBS.
This failed study may be considered a giant step backward, away from the much needed progress.

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