Depression is more than having a bad day or feeling blue—it is a long-lasting experience of low mood, loss of enjoyment in life, loss of interest, low energy, changes in sleep and/or appetite, and a decrease in one’s ability to think clearly (cognition).

Many people with depression experience extreme distress and anguish. They may struggle each day to get up and function. They may even struggle daily with suicidal thoughts and urges. Many have virtually no quality of life and feel trapped in their misery. Often friends and family cannot appreciate the depth of suffering. “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps” is a familiar, albeit unhelpful, phrase, as if depression was just a matter of willpower.

Moreover, it has been found that depression is not singular in nature, despite the efforts of mainstream psychiatry to classify it into a single illness category.

A noted expert on psychopharmacology writes:

“Psychiatry…practice(s) non-scientifically; we use hundreds of made-up labels for professional purposes... We have a huge amount of neurobiology research now to conclude that the 20th century neurotransmitter theories of psychopharmacology basically are false. The dopamine and monoamine hypotheses of schizophrenia and depression are wrong; thus, using our drug classes to increase or decrease neurotransmitters is wrong-headed.”
Nassir Ghaemi

Neuroimaging for a more complete picture of depression
Functional brain scans, such as SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) or PET (positron emission tomography) have shown that while patients may present with the same symptoms of depression, they can have very different processes occurring in their brains.

For example, patients with depression can show either increased or decreased activity in the frontal lobes. Not surprisingly, those with increased activity will have a different response to medications than those with decreased frontal lobe activity. Other patients can show markedly increased activity in the anterior cingulate gyrus. This sign has been associated with treatment-resistant depression.

While depression may present with the same symptoms, the neuronal pathways involved likely differ from one individual to another. Depression is not a single entity, but more likely a spectrum or an array of different disease mechanisms.

Therefore it should be no surprise that not everyone responds to the same medication and that examining the function of the brain could make a critical difference in the success or failure of a treatment plan.

At Neuro-Luminance, we utilize and perform the latest research to uncover and develop cutting-edge treatment options for depression.

To start, research shows that the idea that depression results from a shortage of serotonin is false. The strongest piece of evidence for this radical shift in thinking is the discovery that Ketamine is a powerful antidepressant.

Low-dose Ketamine
Ketamine doesn’t have anything to do with serotonin, norepinephrine or dopamine. Indeed, ketamine’s antidepressant effects result from its potent ability to activate the growth factor, BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which induces neuroplasticity and brain repair.

In addition, there is evidence that typical antidepressants (SSRI’s, SNRI’s) also weakly activate BDNF and slowly induce a mild form of neuroplasticity, under ideal circumstances. This process takes weeks and this is why SSRI antidepressants can almost immediately increase serotonin levels, but take weeks to help depression.

Ketamine is far more effective at inducing neuroplasticity and brain repair quickly compared to typical antidepressants.

Multi-Watt Laser Therapy
Highly effective and non-pharmacological, Multi-Watt Infrared Laser Therapy is a treatment option for depression which also activates BDNF. Combined with low-dose Ketamine, this treatment is a potent pathway to brain health.

The demonstrated results of Ketamine and Multi-Watt Laser Therapy underscore the importance of neuroplasticity in treating depression.

In summary, with so many possible neural mechanisms for depression, the value of thoroughly understanding the situation in each patient’s brain becomes clear. For example, there is no reason to expect patients with TBI to respond in the same way as those who have endogenous depression. Blindly throwing medications at a problem does not seem to be the answer. Rather, targeted therapy is more likely to be successful.

At Neuro-Luminance Brain Health Centers, we tailor treatment, including pharmacology, to a patient’s brain function and not to the DSM-5 diagnostic category.

If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, there is hope. Schedule a free consultation to explore how our new approach may be a good fit.

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Brighter Days Ahead by Dr. Theodore A. Henderson, MD, PHD
Now Available by Neuro-Luminance's Dr. Henderson