Study could offer solutions to troops’ depression

WASHINGTON -- Military health officials admit they don’t fully know how anti-depression medications work on struggling troops’ brains, or why sometimes they don’t. A new study hopes to fix that.

Officials from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday announced plans for a large-scale new brain activity study to pinpoint what happens when troops suffer depression, with the hopes of identifying new medications or treatments that could solve the problem.

The study will use new technology from CNS Response Inc., which will allow military researchers to track electrical activity in the brains of 2,000 troops and civilians suffering from depression. They’ll compare the results with thousands of others in the firm’s online registries, allowing experts to develop new treatment approaches.

“One of the big secrets of psychiatry is that we don’t know exactly how the drugs work,” said George Carpenter, CEO of CNS Response. “Right now it’s all trial and error. But this could provide more answers.”

He said results could point to why some patients are resistant to medications, and whether others are receiving too many different drugs. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., said the study might also show whether a connection exists between the numerous drugs that troubled troops are prescribed and the rising rate of suicide in the military.

“The mental health and well-being of those who have volunteered to serve our nation must remain one of our highest priorities,” he said in a statement. “There is more work to do and we will use this data in this study to continue to strengthen suicide prevention and overall mental health efforts.”

Carpenter said the study will launch over the next few weeks and take six months to complete. Interim results could be released as early as this fall.

For more information on the study, visit the CNS Response web site.


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