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Most Antidepressants Miss Key Target of Clinical Depression

Brain Not Healed After Six Weeks of Antidepressants - Don't Stop Treatment Too Early

TORONTO, Dec. 10 /PRNewswire/ - People often feel well after six weeks of antidepressants but a new study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry shows why it is hazardous to stop treatment at this point.

A key brain protein called monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A) is highly elevated during clinical depression and does not normalize after six weeks of treatment with commonly used antidepressants called SSRIs (serotonin reuptake inhibitors).

This is not the time to stop taking the antidepressant because MAO-A digests brain chemicals including serotonin, that help maintain healthy mood. High MAO-A levels remove too much serotonin.

The study also showed that when people are not taking antidepressants, high levels of MAO-A lead to getting ill again.

According to Dr. Jeffrey Meyer, the lead investigator, "Since most antidepressants do not target MAO-A, we have to wait for the brain to heal this process. The future is to make treatments that tell the brain to make less MAO-A so as to shorten the period of time antidepressants are needed. In the meantime it is important to follow standard recommendations of continuing treatment for at least a minimum of six months to a year."

Researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health used an advanced brain imaging method to measure levels of the brain protein MAO-A. VP of Research Bruce Pollock highlights the study's use of complex technology, "CAMH has the only positron emission tomography (PET) centre in the world that is dedicated solely to mental health and addiction treatment and research. As a result, we were able to develop this new technology to measure MAO-A levels."

Dr. Meyer is the Head of Neurochemical Imaging Program in Mood Disorders, and a Canada Research Chair in the Neurochemistry of Depression.

The study (Brain Monoamine Oxidase A Binding in Depressive Disorder: Relationship to Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor Treatment, Recovery, and Recurrence) was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Ontario Mental Health Foundation, and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy, development, prevention and health promotion to transform the lives of people affected by mental health and addiction issues.

SOURCE CAMH Foundation

SOURCE CAMH Foundation
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