Depression is a form of mental illness. It affects about 350 million people around the world, according to the World Health Organization. Depression is a leading cause of disability, but it can be treated in a variety of ways. Researchers continue to work on new methods of screening, drug treatments, and other forms of therapy.
Scientists use clinical trials to test new diagnosis and treatment options. A clinical trial helps determine whether a treatment should be available to the general public. Researchers test new drugs, procedures, or other approaches. Participants may receive an experimental medication or a placebo, which is a drug without an active ingredient.
Depression clinical trials study a wide variety of possible treatments. For example, one study tested a medication called infliximab for major depression. Infliximab is generally used to treat inflammatory conditions like Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis. This trial is based on the theory that people with major depression experience an increase of certain proinflammatory chemicals. These chemicals may contribute to major depression. The drug could be a valuable new treatment if it’s found to be effective for symptoms of major depression.
Clinical trials can also test technology. The goal of another trial is to develop new MRI techniques to study mood and anxiety disorders.
Researchers need people who have been diagnosed with depression to test new, potential treatments. However, you may still be able to participate if you have depressive symptoms, but haven’t been formally diagnosed yet. Researchers screen trial candidates before selecting them for the study. You may be considered for the trial if researchers determine during screening that you have depression.
Clinical trials for depression have other participation criteria. Certain trials may want to focus on a particular gender or age range.
Clinical trials are often conducted at certain research hospitals and other locations. In many cases, you will need to live near the site of the study. Other trials may be conducted in many different areas, allowing for a greater cross-section of participants.
Participating in a clinical trial may allow you to try a new medication or other form of treatment for your depression. You also may receive physical and mental healthcare during the study. A participant sees a doctor on a regular basis at no cost during a typical trial. Many studies also provide counseling and treatment for a period of time after the trial is complete. And ultimately, your participation may help to find new, effective treatments for depression.