For the first time, a study has shown that low levels of a specific molecule in the blood can be linked to both the severity and the duration of depression. A collaborative study from Stanford University and Rockefeller University and several other research institutions have found that people who suffer from depression have lower levels of acetyl-L-carnitine, which helps the body produce energy.
Published on July 30 in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and widely covered by news outlets around the globe, part of the study involved a series of experiments with rodents. Those with a deficiency in the biomarker showed behaviors that were related to depression. When the animals received acetyl-L-carnitine as a supplement, their behavior returned to normal.
A separate study looked at humans and revealed that patients who had been diagnosed with depression had much lower levels of acetyl-L-carnitine in their blood. Those with the worse cases of depression had the lowest level of the biomarker.
Identifying Acetyl-L-Carnitine as a Factor in Depression is Only the Start
According to the Stanford Medicine’s News Center, “Naturally produced in the body, acetyl-L-carnitine is also widely available in drugstores, supermarkets and health food catalogs as a nutritional supplement. People with severe or treatment-resistant depression, or whose bouts of depression began earlier in life, have particularly low blood levels of the substance.”
Further research is needed to determine whether supplements of acetyl-L-carnitine could improve symptoms. Researchers warned against taking drug store supplements, noting that in the past nutritional supplements have been promoted as answers to serious health issues, only to find that they do not present a solution and, if taken without knowledge, could create health problems.
However, a biomarker holds the possibility of giving doctors and long-term disability insurance company claims managers proof that they are depressed and not malingerers.
Depression Number One Cause for Americans to Miss Work and a Leading Cause of Suicide
Depression, also referred to as major depressive order or clinical depression, is the most prevalent mood disorder in the United States and the world and impacts 8 – 10 percent of the general population at any given time. Every fourth person experiences the condition at some point during their lifetime.
Natalie Rasgon, MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford, describes the finding as “an exciting addition to our understanding of the mechanism of depressive illness.”
There are many anti-depressant medications available today, but they are not always effective, and some patients are concerned about their side effects. IN addition, many take several weeks for their effects to be felt.
Acetyl-L-carnitine is a mediator of fat metabolism and energy production in the body. In the brain, it works in part by preventing the excessive firing of nerve cells in the hippocampus and frontal cortex of the brain.
There are still many questions remaining about this molecule and how it may become a useful medical tool. Many large-scale, clinical trials will need to be conducted before the supplement can be considered approved for use.
Facing a Disability Claim Challenge? Don’t Go It Alone – Call Us Today at 877-LTD-CLAIM
If you or a loved one is suffering from depression, clinical depression or any related mental health issue and are having problems with your claim for disability benefits, either through a privately owned policy that you purchased yourself or one that you received through work (ERISA) or an association, call our office at 877-LTD-CLAIM (877-583-2524) to learn how our disability law firm can help.
Click here to learn about our representation of claimants who suffered from depression and other mental/nervous disorders.