Resveratrol, a compound commonly found in the skin of grapes, berries, and in red wine, has been the topic of many medical discussions. It seems that it exists among a few alternative treatments, like ketamine infusions, that may have potential as an alternative treatment for an illness that plagues people around the world: depression.

In 2017, roughly 7.1% of adults in the United States suffered from a major depressive episode. That means old treatments are not working, and new treatments are needed.

Typically, depression is treated with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). These are a class of drug that control how long serotonin — the “feel good” hormone — sticks around inside the synapses. It is believed that the longer it sticks around, the better a person will feel. However, after decades, there has been much discussion about how other neurotransmitters and processes may play a bigger role than originally thought.

Scientists still do not fully understand what causes depression, but they do understand what happens biologically from depression. Some studies have shown that chronic stress and depression causes damage to neurons in the hippocampus, which exacerbates any original symptoms. One study showed how rodents suffering from anxiety and depression developed cell lesions as a result of increased cortisol and PDE4. However, when these mice were treated with resveratrol, these levels dropped, and the number of cell lesions dropped.

Another collection of studies conducted around the world have also shown how resveratrol may inhibit the symptoms of both anxiety and depression. One such successful study explored the benefits of resveratrol on the brain. It showed how the compound effectively inhibited the production of PDE4 which lead to an increase in the biological messenger cAMP — a fantastic discovery. When these changes occurred in the mice, they observed a significant reduction in their anxious and depressed behavior.

While news like this is promising, more research is desperately needed. It is clear that alternative treatments for depression are widely desired. Perhaps this is why other alternative treatments, like ketamine infusions, have grown in popularity so quickly. Many people are suffering and need a solution that they can depend on. Regardless, news like this is encouraging, especially for those who lost hope after repeated attempts at treatment using traditional methods. Many suffering feel that new treatments like this — ones that utilize unique neural pathways and processes besides serotonin — are desperately needed for such an old illness, and are long overdue.

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