For decades, physicians, mental health experts and individuals have struggled to find answers to the crippling problems of depression. Now, researchers have posed an interesting new theory: insulin.
Researchers at the University of Toronto stated Monday that intriguing new research seems to suggest that insulin has much more impact on the brain and mood disorders than previously thought.
A trial completed in early March at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto saw patients with depression being treated with nasal insulin rather than traditional methods. While it’s in the very early days, the results appear to be positive.
The issue with treating mental health is that even the most recent advances in pharmaceutical treatments are no more effective at treating or controlling depression than the drugs on the market in the 1950s. This new research seems to suggest that perhaps a wholesale alteration to treatment approaches are necessary. Part of the urge to point research in this direction was the fact that 50% to 75% of depression and bi-polar patients are either diabetic, obese or overweight. Other research has shown that insulin plays a significant role in the development of the brain and other neurological functions, said Dr. Roger McIntyre, a psychiatrist and University of Toronto researcher.
“If you step out of psychiatry and you look into another area, like diabetes, a condition defined by insulin problems, those individuals on the surface have many of the same problems that our patients have,” he said in the National Post. “They have lots of mood disturbances and cognitive changes and their brains are as affected as our patients.”
Given that this research is in its infancy, it will be years before enough trials can be run to determine a scientifically proven link, and even longer before effective treatments can be based on the research. Still, it’s a hopeful line of attack and one that could bode well for treatments in the future.
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