FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

New Hope for People Suffering from Depression

The FDA approval of the drug esketamine is a significant advance in the treatment of depression, a mood disorder. Esketamine is particularly effective for those that have been resistant to conventional treatment or who are at imminent risk of suicide. The drug is a nasal spray that could be self-administered by patients but under the supervision of health care professionals. Esketamine can bring relief to millions of patients all over the world.

Like ketamine, a related drug, esketamine, in addition to its anesthetic effects, is a rapid-acting antidepressant, whose medical use was started in 1997. On February 12, 2019, an independent panel of experts recommended that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approve the use of esketamine, as long as it is administered in a clinical setting to ensure patient safety.

Depression has been called a “democratic disease” since it affects people of all social and economic strata. Abraham Lincoln suffered from prolonged periods of depression, which didn’t stop him from becoming one of the most admired presidents in U.S. history.

A study of the first 37 U.S. presidents (1776-1974) by Jonathan Davidson, of Duke University Medical Center and colleagues concluded that half of them had been afflicted by mental illness, and that 24 percent met the criteria for depression, including James Madison, John Quincy Adams, Franklin Pierce, and Calvin Coolidge, in addition to Lincoln.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, more than 300 million people were affected by depression worldwide in 2015, equivalent to 4.4 percent of the world’s population. Nearly 50 percent of all people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Depression is also a major contributor to suicide, which numbers approximately 800,000 globally annually. In the U.S., 44,000 people die by suicide every year.

Depression is a state of low mood which can affect a person’s thoughts, behavior, feelings, and sense of well-being. Its symptoms include sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, and altered appetite and sleep. Many depressed people have feelings of dejection and hopelessness that may drive them to suicide. According to a person’s condition, it may be a short-term or a long-term affliction.

At some point in their lifetime, 15 percent of the adult population will experience depression. At any given year, five percent of the U.S. population experiences seasonal depression. Among women, one in seven experiences post-partum depression; about half of them start experiencing symptoms during pregnancy.

Depression can happen at all ages. It can begin during childhood or during the teenage years. As happens also among adults, girls are more likely to experience depression than boys. Although in the U.S. there has been an increase in teenage depression, there has not been a parallel increase in their treatment. Because symptoms of depression among teens are often missed by their parents and teachers, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends regular depression screenings for all adolescents and youngsters ages 11 to 21.

Clinical depression among the elderly is also common, affecting 6 million Americans ages 65 and older. Among the elderly, depression is frequently confused with the effects of other illnesses, and the medicines used to treat them. Studies in nursing homes of elderly patients with physical illnesses show that depression substantially increases the risk of dying from those illnesses.

Aside from the effects on health and on people’s well-being, depression exacts a heavy economic toll on individuals, families and on society as a whole. The total economic cost of depression in the U.S. is estimated to be $210 billion annually. That includes decreased productivity, medical expenses, and indirect medical costs.

Although there are known, effective treatments for depression, fewer than half of those affected by it receive such treatments. As depression is on the rise globally, the approval of a drug to treat cases resistant to treatment is most welcome, and necessary, news.

More articles by:

Dr. Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of the 1979 Overseas Press Club of America award for the article “Missing or Disappeared in Argentina: The Desperate Search for Thousands of Abducted Victims.”

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

April 23, 2019
Peter Belmont
The Monroe Doctrine is Back, and as the Latest US Attack on Cuba Shows, Its Purpose is to Serve the Neoliberal Order
David Schultz
The Mueller Report: Trump Too Inept to Obstruct Justice
Geoff Beckman
Crazy Uncle Joe and the Can’t We All Just Get Along Democrats
Medea Benjamin
Activists Protect DC Venezuelan Embassy from US-supported Coup
Patrick Cockburn
What Revolutionaries in the Middle East Have Learned Since the Arab Spring
Jim Goodman
Don’t Fall for the Hype of Free Trade Agreements
Lance Olsen
Climate and Forests: Land Managers Must Adapt, and Conservationists, Too
William Minter
The Coming Ebola Epidemic
Tony McKenna
Stephen King’s IT: a 2019 Retrospective
David Swanson
Pentagon Claims 1,100 High Schools Bar Recruiters; Peace Activists Offer $1,000 Award If Any Such School Can Be Found
Gary Olson
A Few Comments on the recent PBS Series: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War
April 22, 2019
Melvin Goodman
The NYTs Tries to Rehabilitate Bloody Gina Haspel
Robert Fisk
After ISIS, a Divided Iraq, Wounded and Grief-Stricken
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange as Neuroses
John Laforge
Chernobyl’s Deadly Effects Estimates Vary
Kenneth Surin
Mueller Time? Not for Now
Cesar Chelala
Yemen: The Triumph of Barbarism
Kerron Ó Luain
What the “White Irish Slaves” Meme Tells Us About Identity Politics
Andy Piascik
Grocery Store Workers Take on Billion Dollar Multinational
Seiji Yamada – Gregory G. Maskarinec
Health as a Human Right: No Migrants Need Apply
Howard Lisnoff
Loose Bullets and Loose Cannons
Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada
Dreaming in Miami
Graham Peebles
Consuming Stuff: The Polluting World of Fashion
Robert Dodge
Earth Day: Our Planet in Peril
Weekend Edition
April 19, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What Will It Take For Trump to Get His Due?
Roy Eidelson
Is the American Psychological Association Addicted to Militarism and War?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Time is Blind, Man is Stupid
Joshua Frank
Top 20 Mueller Report “Findings”
Rob Urie
Why Russiagate Will Never Go Away
Paul Street
Stephen Moore Gets Something Right: It’s Capitalism vs. Democracy
Russell Mokhiber
Why Boeing and Its Executives Should be Prosecuted for Manslaughter
T.J. Coles
The Battle for Latin America: How the U.S. Helped Destroy the “Pink Tide”
Ron Jacobs
Ho Chi Minh City: Nguyen Thai Binh Street
Dean Baker
Fun Fictions in Economics
David Rosen
Trump’s One-Dimensional Gender Identity
Kenn Orphan
Notre Dame: We Have Always Belonged to Her
Robert Hunziker
The Blue Ocean Event and Collapsing Ecosystems
Theodore C. Van Alst, Jr.
Paddy Wagon
Brett Wilkins
Jimmy Carter: US ‘Most Warlike Nation in History of the World’
John W. Whitehead
From Jesus Christ to Julian Assange: When Dissidents Become Enemies of the State
Nick Pemberton
To Never Forget or Never Remember
Stephen Cooper
My Unforgettable College Stabbings
Louis Proyect
A Leftist Rejoinder to the “Capitalist Miracle”
Louisa Willcox
Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic and the Need for a New Approach to Managing Wildlife
Brian Cloughley
Britain Shakes a Futile Fist and Germany Behaves Sensibly
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail