Monday, January 1, 2018

Reading the Research: Dismantling the Medication Merry-Go-Round

Welcome back to Reading the Research, where I trawl the Internet to find noteworthy research on autism and related subjects, then discuss it in brief with bits from my own life, research, and observations.

Today's article is a far, theoretical hope for streamlining medical prescriptions for depression.  I've commented about my horror of prescription drugs for depression, I think, though I don't recall any particular post to link you to.  In brief summary: we don't really know why these medications work or don't, finding the right one is a matter of luck and perseverance, the side effects of some of them are truly terrible, and there are other, less risky therapies available. 

There isn't all that much to be done for the side effects thing... nor, right now, the lack of knowledge as to why specifically these medications work.  And at present, the US medical industry is very stuck on pushing pills for everything.  So alternative therapies, like LENS (neurofeedback) and dietary/gastrointestinal changes, will continue to fall by the wayside in the mainstream. 

However, apparently scientists are busily trying to find a way to make the medication merry-go-round be less of a luck-based thing, and more of a science.  You see, there are dozens of prescription drugs that can treat depression.  Finding one that works for you is the hard part. 

The study uses mouse "models" of depression, or specially bred lab mice with specific traits desirable to research... in this case, the tendency to be depressed.  I'm not overfond of these model studies, as I tend to think the results are dubiously translatable to people... but in this case, the researchers did actually try to make comparisons between their test subjects (mice) and actual live depressed people in their care. 

So basically, they think they've discovered specific reactions to each antidepressant, which indicate whether that antidepressant will be effective or not.  If they're right, they could simply match a patient to a set of specially bred mice, and test a dozen antidepressants at once on the mice.  If any drugs are particularly effective, the patient would try that first.  Essentially, if this idea proves effective, getting on the right antidepressant could stop being a merry-go-round. 

Given how many autistic individuals suffer from depression, whether that's from repeated peer rejection, the knowledge that we'll never be normal, messed up gut bacteria, or some other biological cause, having the ability to simply prescribe the right antidepressant the first time would be invaluable to a large percentage of us, and other people, who suffer depression.

No comments:

Post a Comment