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Treatment Of Depression: Doctors Are helped By Physicists


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According to data from the WHO, by 2030 depression will become the most serious disease in the world. These days, it has been found that depression occurs much more often than cancer or AIDS which happens to be the diseases people are afraid of. With the correct and timely diagnosis it can be treated but in many cases the patients do not have the prescribed medical therapy.

A possible solution to this problem has been found by joint efforts of doctors and physicists. An original methodology to assess the effectiveness of the treatment of depression has been developed by scientist from the institute of physics PN Lebedev( Russia) (laboratory of Dr. AA Komar), Institute of Physico-Chemical Medicine (laboratory of prof. G.E.Dobretsova RAMS) and MRI Medical Psychiatry (Laboratory M.G.Uzbekova MD).

To study the processes that occur in the body of depressed patients, the researchers used special medicines possessing an illumination property that firstly shines, and then quickly fades. These medicines are also called fluorescent probes and they possess the ability to join molecules of fiber of the albumin contained in blood. During the experiment, the probes were excited by light impulse and later they spontaneously faded away. (The researchers found that the luminescence decay depends on the changes in the structure of albumin, to which they were attached. In particular, it was found that in patients with severe depressive disorders the fading glow happened differently than in healthy people).

It is known that 30-35 % of patients with depression stop taking the drug after a month, and 40 % – 3 months after starting the treatment.

More often it is bound to side effects of psychotropic medicines, fear, addiction, lack of faith in efficiency of treatment, and also with the experiences associated with depression (anxiety, loneliness, and the feeling of hopelessness).

But another discovery is known to show interesting facts. The change in the emission of probe drugs on depressed patients at different stages of treatment did not show any effect. The degree of fluorescence of probes of the patients who just reported at the hospital and those who had taken the treatment for three weeks was measured. A noticeable difference was found indicating that, the structure of the albumin molecules begins to change i.e. it moves towards the norm during the course of treatment. This was a very encouraging result that indicated that the patients positively reacted to the prescribed or selected drugs.

Thus, scientists have established the physical processes in a human body with depression. This can have a major impact on both the timely diagnosis of depressive disorders, and enable more rapid adjustment of drug therapy in cases where it would be ineffective.

The fact is that for the intensive therapeutic intervention for depressive disorders, antidepressants are used in combination with other psychotropic drugs. The effectiveness of these drugs is different, standard algorithms usually help a little in selecting the optimal treatment regimen, and the result usually depends on the implementation of the prescription, the severity of the side effect, the nature of the symptoms and characteristics of the disease.

50% of all cases of depression in medical practice remain undiagnosed. The prevalence of depression increases with age. The symptoms are observed in 25-30 % of persons over 65 years, with women in this age group known to suffer twice more often than men.

Moreover, elderly patients with multiple medical illness (4 or more), experience significantly higher levels of depression (30% compared with 5% of those without accompanying diseases). For example, the prevalence of depression in patients who have had cerebral stroke is about 30-50%.

And each drug and dosage is determined individually for each patient.

Unfortunately, results of psychotropic therapy become usually clear in 2-6 weeks because of the inertia of the neurochemical mechanisms that are affected by antidepressants. But still there is a problem, as the correct diagnosis of depressive disorders have somatic “mask.” The WHO report “State of World Health in 2001,” says that about 24% of those seeking treatment from doctors with somatic practices are actually suffering from mental disorders. The majority of such patients are examined by doctors of other specialties, and therefore the prescribed treatment is ineffective. This is due to the fact that the frequency of use of psychotropic drugs is in second place after antibiotics, and about 25% of all prescriptions in the world fall on those funds, and two thirds of appointments made by patients are not with neurologists and psychiatrists but with other specialist doctors.

The ideal antidepressant suitable for all depressed patients unfortunately, has not yet been created. But physicists have confirmed that the path to its creation is promising. Scientists have studied changes in the albumin molecule and the biological marker of depression, which will give the necessary information about the effectiveness of the therapy. For the introduction of the method developed in practice, it is necessary to increase the sensitivity of this method than it is now.

What is albumin?

Albumin is the main plasma protein. It accounts for about 50% of plasma proteins. Plasma albumin is quickly updated in the body. Within a day, the 10-16 grams of protein are synthesized and split. Albumin synthesis occurs in the liver and is dependent on amino acid and, therefore, the rate of synthesis is reduced in albuminous insufficiency. Failure to produce this protein is a typical symptom of a chronic liver disease – cirrhosis.

The main functions of albumin:

It maintains the colloidal osmotic (oncotic) pressure of the plasma and blood volume;
It has a transport function: Binds to bilirubin, cholesterol, bile acids, metal ions (especially calcium), hormones (thyroxine, triiodothyronine, cortisol, aldosterone), free fatty acids and drugs entering the body from the outside (with antibiotics, salicylates). Thus albumin participates in the mineral, pigmental, hormonal and some other kinds of exchange. Albumin plays a significant role in the processes of detoxification.

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