Advancements in Depression Treatment 

Depression is a common and serious medical illness that affects more than 300 million people around the world. Unfortunately, some cases of depression are unresponsive to common treatments like medication and psychotherapy, making them extremely difficult to treat.

However, a number of recent advancements in depression treatment offer hope for people who have had difficulty finding a treatment that works. Read on to learn a bit more about advancements in some unique therapies including ketamine, TMS, video games, and more.


Ketamine Hydrochloride 

When people hear the word ketamine they often think of Special-K, the hallucinogenic club drug. But recent research has shown that this drug might function as an antidepressant, particularly in cases of treatment resistant depression. It’s known to work quickly, providing nearly immediate relief from depressive thoughts, and in some studies, up to 70{2997f8544d703ffd995cbf0748d9148f9150b33c2eb54c93a5197645ffc3f066} of people with treatment resistant depression responded to ketamine treatment.


Ketamine is already used in the medical space by anesthesiologists as a way to put people under prior to surgery, but the drug is not yet an FDA-approved treatment for depression. However, both Johnson & Johnson and Allergan are running clinical trials on drugs similar to ketamine for use as a depression treatment. And because ketamine is FDA-approved as an anaesthetic, doctors are still able to prescribe it off label, meaning the doctor can legally prescribe it to treat a condition other than what the FDA has approved it for.


Until further research is completed, a task force from the American Psychiatric Association has said that ketamine should not yet be used widely for treatment resistant depression, though they do express hope based on research up to this point.


Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) 

Often used in cases of treatment resistant depression, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive procedure that relieves symptoms of depression by stimulating targeted sections of the brain with a series of magnetic pulses. Approved by the FDA in 2008, TMS uses the magnetic pulses to stimulate under-active regions of the brain play a role in controlling mood. Because the treatment is non-invasive and not drug-related, it doesn’t have many of the side-effects common with medication-related treatments. Results of a number of recent studies suggest that repetitive TMS therapy offers an effective and promising way to treat some cases of treatment resistant depression.



A number of recent studies have shown that the psychedelic psilocybin (found in more than 200 species of mushrooms and frequently referred to as ‘magic mushrooms’) has been found effective in improving mood and may be a promising treatment for depression. Psilocybin produces effects similar to LSD, but doesn’t carry the same negative connotations. In a New York University study on cancer patients, just one dose of psilocybin produced a near immediate reduction in depression and anxiety. Another study found that psilocybin increased positive moods among healthy volunteers. Many other studies had similar findings, illustrating that psilocybin and other psychedelics may have a promising future in the treatment of depression.


Therapeutic Video Games 

In a recent study, researchers from the University of Washington and UC San Francisco found that a video game called EVO is an effective behavioral therapy capable of improving late life depression among older adults. Though the findings are preliminary and future research is necessary, the study provides hope that video game therapies may prove to be an effective means of treating certain types of depression. And the study isn’t isolated—others have also found that video game interventions may have a future in depression treatment.


To explore TMS as a depression therapy, make an appointment at TMS Neuro Institute, which is one of the earliest adopters in using transcranial magnetic stimulation to treat depression in Los Angeles. Call 888.823.4867 or book an appointment online here.