Depression Diagnosis and Treatment: Reformation Required

Alessandro A. Luna, Stanford University

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Abstract: By the numbers, depression is a staggeringly prevalent mental disorder. 350 million people are depressed worldwide, $11.3 billion is spent on antidepressants annually, and the rate of depression diagnoses has grown 400% since the 1980s. There is a clear necessity for an improvement in current medical practices. Figuring out the root causes, formulating stronger methods of diagnosis, and properly identifying and treating those who suffer from depression is imperative to public health in America and abroad. I propose that advancing scientific quantification of depression by improving the efficacy of research practices and funding will reform the current inadequacy of depression diagnosis and treatment. This proposal is threefold. My first suggestion for reforming depression diagnosis and treatment rests in the publication of all research, studies, and clinical trials associated with the mental disorder. Secondly, we must emphasize a quantitative format for diagnosis and treatment based on the neurobiological specificities of the individual. Finally, we need to consider a system of checks and balances between academic and industrial research to prevent the dissemination of inaccurate information and faulty drugs. It is my hope that advancing neuroscience research through these proposals will elucidate the line between emotion and emotional disorders, helping us treat and diagnose depression more effectively.

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