It's an important finding because it shows -- for the first time with definitive imaging evidence -- that the depressed brain responds 'differently' to different treatments. It may also help doctors better understand why a particular treatment might work for one patient and not another.
The results are published in the January 2004 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry. The study was led by The Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care, in collaboration with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), and University of Toronto.
"When treating clinical depression we know that one type of treatment doesn't fit all," says principal investigator Dr. Helen Mayberg, a senior scientist at The Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest and the Sandra A. Rotman Chair in Neuropsychiatry at the University of Toronto.
"Our imaging study shows that you can correct the depression network along a variety of pathways. Anti-depressant drugs change the chemical balance in the brain through effects at very specific target sites. Cognitive behavioral therapy also changes brain activity, it's just tapping into a different component of the same depression circuit board."
The most common treatments for clinical depression are CBT or other types of psychotherapy, drug therapy, or a combination of both. It's not unusual for treatment to go through a trial-and-error period until one is found to provide optimal results for a patient, with the least side effects.
With CBT, patients learn to evaluate emotional provocation in their environment in a new way. They are taught cognitive strategies for reducing automatic reactivity to negative thoughts.