New options for those who struggle with depression: the science and the solution


The science:

The basis of the neurogenesis (regrowth of damaged brain neurons) hypothesis of depression is that new neurons in the brain are needed to control mood and support the work of antidepressants.

Recent studies that have looked at a wide variety of potential mechanisms like:

  • hippocampal (the region of the brain that regulates emotions) volume and hippocampal neurogenesis,
  • stress-mediated decreases in neurogenesis,
  • increased neurogenesis with exposure to antidepressants
  • the relationships between brain regions and interconnectivity, and
  • roles for neurotrophic factors in neurotransmitter function and expression.


Most researchers agree that proper mood regulation requires the ongoing growth and maintenance of neurons.  Data has also shown that stress causes a decrease in neurogenesis and that chronic stress can lead to depression.  These changes can be reversed provided the stress is removed, the brain is well nourished, and patients use antidepressants to jumpstart neurogenesis.

The problem:

Approximately 33% of patients taking antidepressants have a “less-than-adequate” response and in up to 66% of patients taking antidepressants there are residual symptoms still present, with remission eluding them.  Use of standard antidepressants (SSRIs) which focus on serotonin have worked for millions of individuals around the world, but for those individuals outlined above, they have yet to find relief.  Therefore, there continues to be interest by medical researchers to identify medications and new compounds that would better facilitate neurogenesis and alleviate symptoms of depression for these individuals.

The solution:

Physicians and researchers alike are looking to new treatment options using non-standard approaches – like ketamine.  It is believed that ketamine, working through an alternate pathway unlike the traditional serotonergic medications, may facilitate the work of neurotrophic factors to increase neurogenesis.

Moreover, results are seen in just a fraction of the time that it takes SSRIs to affect change – letting patients know if this treatment will work for their unique brain chemistry.  Research and usage by a handful of clinics around the country has provided improvement to patients within 10 minutes of starting ketamine treatment.  Clinicians believe that ketamine utilizes two pathways working together to provide this faster antidepressant response; one pathway gives immediate relief whereas the second pathway, working over time, stimulates neurogenesis for a sustained response.

If you believe that your medication has not lived up to your expectations either because of lingering symptoms or unacceptable side effects, you should consider an alternative treatment option like using ketamine or other advanced treatment options at Trek Medical.

Trek’s staff are both medical researchers AND caring clinicians – providing the best of both worlds.  Book a no-obligation appointment at out Alpharetta office and find out what new research has to offer you at 678-580-6700.