Research indicates more than 16% of Americans will suffer with major depression at some point in their lives. That’s 34 million Americans.
While identification and management of mood disorders has advanced considerably in the past 50 years with the development and approval of various assessment tools, medications, and other therapies, the need for improved assessment and treatment of depression as a primary condition as well as in the larger arena of chronic disease is of vital importance.
The depression treatment landscape feels like it is changing almost by the day, which is not a bad thing as science continues to inform and excite us. Most professionals in the mental healthcare field understand that the constantly shifting nature of how we diagnose and treat psychiatric disorders stems from several factors, including new research, changing culture, changing patterns of illness, changes in treatment and in economic conditions. The search for clear boundaries between disorders is never ending, since many of the above parameters are in flux at one time or another.
Increasingly, we are discovering mood disorders are influenced by an alphabet soup of genetic, dietary, hormonal and environmental factors, manifesting in different expressions of depression. While clusters of these expressions exist, they also can shift over time. Ultimately, what we are coming to appreciate is not so much the label of the psychiatric diagnosis itself, but that every depressive state will have its own unique fingerprint based on the underlying biology of the patient.
Biologic subtyping of depression is supported by differences in HPA axis responsivity and clinical symptoms, reflecting the once futuristic hope of mainstream researchers that biochemical subtyping of depressive disorders will someday be possible.
That day has arrived!