New depression treatment guidelines released

LOS ANGELES Seventeen percent of Americans are likely to suffer depression at some point in their lives.

"When we think of clinical depression people have physical symptoms of depression such as alterations in your sleep patterns, your appetite, energy and your ability to function," said Dr. Daniel Suzuki, the medical director of the historical Aurora Las Encinas Hospital.

Dr. Suzuki's patients are those with the most severe forms of depression.

In 1904, James McBride founded the hospital. It was originally called the Sanitarium for Nervous Diseases. Among its famous clients: comedian WC Fields and actress Marilyn Monroe.

Dr. Suzuki says we've learned so much about depression since then.

"Things like major depression is no different than a problem with your heart, kidney or your lungs," said Dr. Suzuki.

The American Psychiatric Association just updated it's guidelines for treatment. Key changes to existing guidelines include: a stronger stance on promoting exercise and healthy behavior, using a rating scale to keep track of a patient's progress and doctors should create individualized treatment plans.

"It's not a cookie cutter. You really want to assess properly and treat for the particular needs of that patient," said Dr. Suzuki.

Experts have also concluded that electroconvulsive therapy can be very effective. It's basically shocking the brain with electricity.

"By causing seizure activity you are causing a release of many neurotransmitters and chemicals and that is like rebooting a computer," said Dr. Suzuki.

Another key recommendation is the maintenance of depression medication. Dr. Suzuki says that patient compliance is important to preventing relapses and reoccurrences.

"So to stay healthy you have to communicate with your doctor about any concerns or side effects from your medication," said Dr. Suzuki.

Psychiatrists have also ruled that transcranial magnetic stimulation, a therapy where magnetic energy is focused on a specific part of a brain, should only be used after trying medication has failed.

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