Depression is a complex disease. Symptoms can range from irritability, feelings of worthlessness and loss of energy, just to name a few. (Some individuals even report physical changes such as gastrointestinal problems and chronic joint pain.)
The signs and symptoms of depression vary and the therapies designed to manage the condition are diverse as well. And, patients react to those treatments in different ways. Given that, how can clinicians pinpoint which therapy (or combination of therapies) for depression will work the best?
Answering this question underlies the basis of the research directed by Conor Liston, a psychiatrist at Weill Cornell Medical College. Liston and his team are currently working to classify the various subtypes of depression using MRI scans of the brain and then identify the most effective treatments for each subtype.
The scientists first scanned the brains of 1,118 research participants. Among those, 458 had already received a clinical diagnosis of depression. Specifically, they wanted to better understand the level of activity among the medial prefrontal cortex and other areas of the brain. After reviewing the MRIs for various patterns of brain activity, Liston and team were able to identify four distinct depression subtypes.
And their results were remarkable. Among those with depression, they found that each subtype responded very differently to various therapies and medications. Based on the research findings, the scientists could predict how to best treat the patient for depression just by reviewing an image of their brain activity. In general, patients that exhibited a lot of activity in their medial prefrontal cortex responded more quickly to cognitive behavioral therapy in contrast to individuals with lower levels of activity in that region of the brain.
“The type of brain that responds to psychotherapy is where there’s a strong pattern of connectivity between the frontal areas of the brain, which are involved more in thinking, talking, and problem-solving, etc., with other portions of the brain. Whereas people who have low connectivity — the opposite pattern — respond to the medication,” says psychologist W. Edward Craighead, one of the authors of this study.
Individuals with behavioral health issues, such as depression, often struggle with addiction. That’s why we specialize in offering a variety of mental health services for Christians. To help address a complex dual-diagnosis, we can help with medication management, group and individual therapy and faith-based support. If you are dealing with behavioral health and addiction issues, please call (877) 310-9545 to explore your addiction treatment options at Christian Rehab Network.