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Several Therapies Show Promise for Vascular Depression
Date:5/7/2008

Found in patients over 60, condition associated with loss of blood supply to the brain

WEDNESDAY, May 7 (HealthDay News) -- New treatments for a type of depression in the elderly related to blood vessels -- called vascular depression -- are under development, and researchers have discovered why some patients with this condition fail to respond to current medications.

Details of the findings were to be presented Wednesday during a news conference by researchers taking part in U.S. National Institute of Mental Health symposiums at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, in Washington, D.C.

Vascular depression is a recently recognized type of depression that usually develops in patients older than age 60. The condition is associated with loss of blood supply to the brain.

"Mental health practitioners and patients should be aware of the relationship between vascular problems and depression, and should understand the value of preventing vascular changes that might lead to difficult-to-treat depressions, for example, through early recognition and treatment of high blood pressure," Dr. John Newcomer, of Washington University in St. Louis, said in a prepared statement.

Several research teams are reporting progress in understanding and treating vascular depression.

Dr. George Alexopoulos of Weill Cornell Medical College in White Plains, N.Y., and colleagues are investigating the specific brain abnormalities associated with blood vessel problems. Using a new MRI technique called diffusion tensor imaging, the researchers found that, in late life depression, higher blood pressure readings are linked to tiny white matter abnormalities, mainly in the brain's frontal lobes and in subcortical areas. Some of these abnormalities are associated with impairment in specific frontal lobe functions.

The same team also found that patients with major depression treated with the antidepress
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