Original Antidepressants Suggest More Effective Treatment

Antidepressants can be a lifesaver for those who are struggling with depression. The problem is an individual generally needs to be on the medication for three to four weeks before it becomes effective. Now, a Science Daily release reports that aside from ketamine, another medication has been identified as a rapid producer of an improvement in mood: scopolamine.

According to researchers from the National Institutes of Health report that scopolamine appears to produce replicable rapid improvement in mood. This medication temporarily blocks the muscarinic cholinergic receptor, which is suspected to be overactive in those individuals suffering from depression.

Drs. Wayne Drevets and Maura Furey recruited outpatients with major depressive disorders in order to conduct their study. These participants were randomly assigned to receive placebos and then scopolamine treatment, or vice versa, in a double-blinded design. Such a method ensures that neither the researchers nor the patients knew which treatment they were receiving.

"Scopolamine was found to reduce symptoms of depression within three days of the first administration. In fact, participants reported that they experienced relief from their symptoms by the morning after the first administration of drug," explained Dr. Furey, in the Science Daily.

"Moreover, one-half of participants experienced full symptom remission by the end of the treatment period. Finally, participants remained well during a subsequent placebo period, indicating that the antidepressant effects persist for at least two weeks in the absence of further treatment."

This finding is interesting as the blocking of muscarinic receptors was a property of the oldest type of antidepressants: tricyclic antidepressants. The receptor blocking was mainly viewed as the cause of unwanted side effects and newer medications are designed to avoid blocking muscarinic receptors.

Current data suggests that recent strategies have actually increased the safety and tolerability of these medications while sacrificing the provision of effective and timely relief for depression symptoms.