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Depressive disorders: Treatment failures and poor prognosis over the last 50 years

Article date: June 2019

By: Thomas P. Blackburn in Volume 7, Issue 3, pages n/a-n/a

Depression like many diseases is pleiotropic but unlike cancer and Alzheimer's disease for example, is still largely stigmatized and falls into the dark shadows of human illness. The failure of depression to be in the spotlight for successful treatment options is inherent in the complexity of the disease(s), flawed clinical diagnosis, overgeneralization of the illness, inadequate and biased clinical trial design, restrictive and biased inclusion/exclusion criteria, lack of approved/robust biomarkers, expensive imaging technology along with few advances in neurobiological hypotheses in decades. Clinical trial studies summitted to the regulatory agencies (FDA/EMA) for approval, have continually failed to show significant differences between active and placebo. For decades, we have acknowledged this failure, despite vigorous debated by all stakeholders to provide adequate answers to this escalating problem, with only a few new antidepressants approved in the last 20 years with equivocal efficacy, little improvement in side effects or onset of efficacy. It is also clear that funding and initiatives for mental illness lags far behind other life‐treating diseases. Thus, it is no surprise we have not achieved much success in the last 50 years in treating depression, but we are accountable for the many failures and suboptimal treatment. This review will therefore critically address where we have failed and how future advances in medical science offers a glimmer of light for the patient and aid our future understanding of the neurobiology and pathophysiology of the disease, enabling transformative therapies for the treatment of depressive disorders.

DOI: 10.1002/prp2.472

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