Depression remains a major cause of suffering and loss of life in the United States. Only one-third of depressed patients respond to treatment with an antidepressant medication. As well, few patients are able to access the evidence-based psychotherapy treatments that can be effective in treating depression.
Even worse, a sizable subgroup of depressed patients do not respond adequately to trials of various antidepressant medications and/or psychotherapies even when they are available. Such individuals are at risk for suicide, now the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, as well as alcohol and drug abuse, the latter in an attempt to treat their worsening depression and often attendant anxiety.
This situation has led to the utilization of convulsive therapies and treatment with unapproved medications. The burden of depression leads to this search for relief, even when the treatments have side effect risks.
In the last two decades, large emerging research literature has revealed an important role for inflammation in the mechanism underlying several major medical disorders, including heart disease and stroke, certain cancers and diabetes. There is now considerable evidence that a significant subset of depressed patients exhibit marked increases in measures of inflammation in the blood — called inflammatory cytokines. Moreover, there is evidence from both laboratory animal studies and clinical studies that treatments that reduce inflammation may possess antidepressant properties.
As such, we at the University of Miami Department of Psychiatry are proud to have been funded to study the effects of a novel treatment that reduces inflammation through an intravenous stem cell therapy in two different patient populations — patients who have failed other treatments for depression and who exhibit increases in inflammatory markers; and patients who suffer with both alcohol abuse/dependence and depression who have elevated inflammatory markers. The study about combined depression-alcoholism is particularly exciting because both alcoholism and depression are independently associated with increases in inflammation.
If you or a loved one is suffering from depression and have not had success with other treatments and/or have become alcohol dependent as a result of your depression, you may be eligible to participate in our clinical trial. To learn more about the study and find out if you qualify for participation, call 305-243-5840 for a phone screening. There is no cost associated with participation in either study. Ultimately, our goal is to help those individuals who suffer from depression lead healthier, happier lives.
Dr. Charles Nemeroff is the chairman of the University of Miami Health System’s Department of Psychiatry and a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences with the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. For more information, visit umiamihospital.com/specialties/psychiatry or call 305-355-9028.