Friday, January 9, 2015

Previously Discredited Treatment for Depression Shows Amazing Success in Trials

Millions of right thinking Americans have depression but in spite of years of therapy and the prolonged use of various anti-depressants, a large proportion of those who suffer do not respond to treatment or respond only in a limited way. But now an obscure therapy first pioneered by a radical fringe group of doctors in Queens, NY has been found to have an unprecedented success rate of over 80% in the group of patients that previously did not respond to therapy.

“We are completely astonished,” said Dr. Irving Bloomworth of the Institute for the Prevention of Mental Disorders, whose headquarters is located in Falmouth,  NY. “As part of reviewing old and discredited approaches to treating depression, we came across this approach from the 1930s. We felt that there may have been some procedural mistakes in the trials back then and that it was worth trying again. But we never expected this kind of success.”

In a multiyear experiment funded by the NIH, several different groups of subjects were assigned either the therapy in question or a placebo. Those who received the actual therapy were given paper sacks filled with large amounts of money. The control group received paper sacks filled with old copies of the NY Post "Page Six" column.  

“We noticed a striking improvement in the mood and functionality of the people who received the sacks of money,” said Dr. Bloomworth in a press conference yesterday. "Those who received the placebo were mildly amused but the effect did not last long. But those who received large sacks of cash not only reported feeling better, that feeling seemed to persist for long periods of time."

"As a doctor, someone who wants to heal the sick, I was very gratified when some of the selected group, people who had been depressed and stuck in life for years, suddenly began to have new hope and solve problems that they previously thought were unsolvable.  The depression seemed to disappear as if by magic when they could just throw money at a problem". 

"The mistake we noticed in the original experiments in the 1930s was that they limited the amount of money involved to less than $100.   Of course, $100 was worth a lot more back then, but even so this caught our eye.  What if they had simply not been using enough cash, we wondered.  We created an experiment that gave out money in the 10s of thousands of dollars and we immediately saw an amazing improvement in the quality of life of the subjects as well as an improvement in their attitude towards problem solving."

One limitation of the technique is that the subjects must be allowed to keep the money, doctors discovered.  When they took the money away again, the subjects reported that the depression immediately returned and brain scans confirmed this.  Those who had received the NY Post, on the other hand, were not much affected one way or another when the popular newspaper was taken away.

The therapy was seen to be enhanced by post-care care in which the recipients received help with accounting, investment and taxation.  Tellingly, only those who actually received sacks of money responded to this care.  Those who received the placebo, the NY Post related material, were not affected one way or another by the contributions of an outside accountancy firm.

“This is a very exciting, possibly breakthrough approach,” said Dr. Fremkin at the NYU Medical School who was not involved in the study. “But we must not rush to judgment, many more studies must be done before we just start handing out sacks of money to depressed people”.

Followon large scale trials are being planned.



National Institutes of Health

National Institute of Mental Health on Depression

Page Six at the NY Post

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