P1vital CNS Experimental Medicine : DEPRESSION OVERVIEW

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The World Health Organization describes major depression as the leading cause of disability worldwide among persons aged 5 years and older, affecting about 340 million people worldwide. It is the most common and widespread of all psychiatric disorders, and it takes a significant toll on individuals, families, and society. Depression also negatively affects the economy through diminished productivity and use of healthcare resources. Nearly twice as many women (12%) as men (7%) are affected by a depressive disorder each year. The number of prescriptions written for depressive episodes peaks in the US for patients in the 45-49 age range. Antidepressants are widely used as effective treatments for depression. Existing antidepressants influence the functioning of the neurotransmitters serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine. Although some improvements may be seen in the first few weeks, antidepressants generally need to be taken for three to four weeks (in some cases, eight weeks) before the therapeutic effect occurs. Patients often are tempted to stop medication too soon and side effects may appear before antidepressant activity. Newer medications, such as the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), tend to have fewer side effects than the older drugs, which include tricyclic antidepressants and monamine oxidase inhibitors. Nevertheless, there is a need for a more rapidly acting antidepressant which does not have the side-effect limitations of current therapies, for example sexual dysfunction and nausea. The recent history of novel antidepressant drug development is of expensive failures in late stage trials. Hence, there is considerable potential for Experimental Medicine models to be used to select the best compounds for late stage trials