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According to a new study, a new antidepressant provides speedier relief to those suffering from major depressive disorder (MDD). If it becomes FDA-approved, the medication may be combined with other treatments to reduce symptoms and stabilize their mental health.
MDD Affects 8% of the Population
MDD is among the most common mental health issues in the United States and affects more than eight percent of adults each year. Although the symptoms of MDD vary, most of the time, people experience long-term feelings of anxiety, sadness, or hopelessness, which affect their ability to work, go to school, quality of life, or maintain healthy relationships. In addition, in major MDD cases, people are at risk of suicidal thoughts and suicide.
There is No Cure for MDD
As there is still no adequate cure for MDD, the appropriate meds may alleviate symptoms for many people. There are now many approved antidepressant medications found in the U.S., although trial and error are still the most common way to find out which one works best.
Nevertheless, these drugs take 4 to 6 weeks to start working, and this means people will often need to deal with MDD symptoms for at least a month or more after treatment begins to see if they work. In addition, at least two-thirds still will not feel good after eight weeks and then will have to start the process with a new medication.
The New Antidepressant
Biotech company Biogen and biopharma company Sage Therapeutics is now testing a new antidepressant, named zuranolone, for helping people experience quick relief faster than the standard medications. During the phase 3 trial, scientists used the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAMD-17) survey to determine baseline depression levels for over 400 people with MDD who also have elevated anxiety.
50% of those patients got a standard antidepressant and zuranolone for 14 consecutive days, and the other 50% received the standard therapy and a placebo. After the first three days, HAMD-17 scores for people in the zuranolone group dropped by 8.9 points. The scores for those in the control group decreased by 7 points, showing a significant difference statistically between the two groups.
Helpful but Not Huge with New Antidepressant
The improvement size offered by the new antidepressant was helpful but not a huge difference. By day 15, the average decreased in the zuranolone group, which wasn’t significantly different statistically from the control group. This demonstrates what had been seen in previous studies that show the new antidepressant does not have a long-lasting effect. Although, if approved by the FDA, zuranolone may be given as an add-on medication to aid people with MDD to feel better faster.
Treating MDD with Psychedelics
Hopefully, new innovative ideas are being implemented to treat MDD. Researchers also successfully treat people with psychedelics, such as psilocybin, ketamine and DMT, and non-pharmaceutical therapies, like trans-magnetic brain stimulation (TMS).