Depressive disorders: Processes leading to neurogeneration and potential novel treatments
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Mood disorders are wide spread with estimates that one in seven of the population are affected at some time in their life (Kessler et al., 2012). Many of those affected with severe depressive disorders have cognitive deficits which may progress to frank neurodegeneration. There are several peripheral markers shown by patients who have cognitive deficits that could represent causative factors and could potentially serve as guides to the prevention or even treatment of neurodegeneration. Circadian rhythm misalignment, immune dysfunction and oxidative stress are key pathologic processes implicated in neurodegeneration and cognitive dysfunction in depressive disorders. Novel treatments targeting these pathways may therefore potentially improve patient outcomes whereby the primary mechanism of action is outside of the monoaminergic system. Moreover, targeting immune dysfunction, oxidative stress and circadian rhythm misalignment (rather than primarily the monoaminergic system) may hold promise for truly disease modifying treatments that may prevent neurodegeneration rather than simply alleviating symptoms with no curative intent. Further research is required to more comprehensively understand the contributions of these pathways to the pathophysiology of depressive disorders to allow for disease modifying treatments to be discovered.
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