Cost to society

Chronic depression is a serious condition which affects over 350 million people, and the World Health Organization believes it is the leading cause of disability worldwide.  Depression in the US affects over 18 million adults annually and Is the leading cause of disability for ages 15-44. (2)  Depression in the workplace accounts for $23 billion in lost workdays each year and takes an economic toll over $100 billion each year from U.S. business. (3)

Chronic depression is a serious condition which affects over 350 million people, and the World Health Organization believes it is the leading cause of disability worldwide.  Depression in the US affects over 18 million adults annually and Is the leading cause of disability for ages 15-44. (2)  Depression in the workplace accounts for $23 billion in lost workdays each year and takes an economic toll over $100 billion each year from U.S. business. (3)

Shortcomings of existing therapies

Currently served by thirty year old pharmaceutical products, the anti-depressant market is ripe for disruption by new technologies. Although present medications can help manage depression symptoms, adequate treatment is often difficult to achieve due to lack of efficacy or intolerable side effects. Current anti-depressant drugs, such as Prozac®, Celexa® and Zoloft®, have low efficacy and serious side effects. Developed in the eighties and nineties, these drugs are known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Currently served by thirty year old pharmaceutical products, the anti-depressant market is ripe for disruption by new technologies. Although present medications can help manage depression symptoms, adequate treatment is often difficult to achieve due to lack of efficacy or intolerable side effects. Current anti-depressant drugs, such as Prozac®, Celexa® and Zoloft®, have low efficacy and serious side effects. Developed in the eighties and nineties, these drugs are known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Limited Efficacy

Slow onset – SSRIs require 7-12 weeks to take full effect

Inadequate response – 33% of patients with depression become treatment-resistant

Ineffective care– 60-70% of patients with depression are likely to relapse

Side Effects

Addiction – Long-term benzodiazepine use is linked to drug dependence

Sexual health – Side effects of SSRIs include sexual dysfunction

Weight gain – Patients on SSRIs can experience weight gain

Sleep – SSRIs can interfere with sleep, potentially complicating the health of depressed patients

(2) Kessler RC et al. Prevalence, Severity, and Comorbidity of Twelve-Month DSM-IV Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R). Archives of General Psychiatry, 2005 Jun; 62:617-627. https://www.hopefordepression.org/depression-facts/
(3) Greenberg P et al. The Economic Burden of Adults with Major Depressive Disorder in the United States (2005 and 2010). The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry/vol 76 (no. 2), Feb 2015. https://www.hopefordepression.org/depression-facts/