Prolonged periods of isolation, lockdown, and major traumatic events have caused a significant increase in the rates of anxiety and depression over the past year. A recent study published in JAMA Network Open cited that the US depression rate has tripled. Pre-pandemic, depression rates were at 8.5%, where recent results showed rates at 27.8%. This increase is higher than ever before. Even after events like the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and Ebola outbreaks, numbers only doubled. Just like everything else, the increase in depression and anxiety is truly unprecedented.
So much attention has been on the publics’ physical health lately, but not nearly enough attention has been placed on mental health. Income loss, isolation, and uncertainty have been the leading causes of mental health issues, and many of the at-risk groups do not have access to effective treatment options.
According to Dr. Collin Reiff, professor at NYU Langone Health, “The rate of depression has significantly increased during the pandemic because people are more socially isolated, have less structure and routine, and more uncertainty about the future, which leads to doubt and negative predictions.” Older adults are at greater risk for depression and anxiety due to increased isolation. As they are considered part of the vulnerable population, many older adults have not seen their family of friends in several months to reduce exposure to COVID-19. Older adults are also more susceptible to depression and/or anxiety because of changes in brain function and altered activity of certain neural circuits.
The Impact of Age on Depression and Anxiety
In many ways, depression and anxiety are age-related. With aging comes an increased risk of illness and disease like cancer, heart disease, and arthritis, which can trigger these mood disorders. Chronic low-level inflammation, imbalances in the gut microbiome, and dysregulation of the stress response are all age-related issues contributing to depression and anxiety. Depression is correlated with several inflammatory diseases, according to Life Extension, and is believed to be caused by brain inflammation and a neurotransmitter regulation breakdown.
Older adults who are suffering from depression and anxiety are looking for help. With increasing lockdowns and shelter-in-place measures in place, they need an effective treatment they can access from home and is affordable. Fortunately, there is an option available that meets this criterion and it’s low dose naltrexone, commonly known as LDN.
Low Dose Naltrexone
Low dose naltrexone (LDN) reduces chronic inflammation and upregulates endorphin production. A clinical study was published in 2015 that examined the effectiveness of low dose naltrexone has a mental health treatment. The study was comprised of 15 patients with mental health disorders, and the results showed that 11 of the 15 reported immediate positive effects and 7 having lasting, helpful effects. It was concluded that LDN might be a helpful treatment for those with complex posttraumatic stress disorder.
Last year, a study from the UK was published that found that those who took LDN experienced improved energy, mood, and pain. In addition to these studies, there is an abundance of anecdotal case studies and reports that show promising benefits when taking low dose naltrexone.
LDN is generic and off-patent, which means no pharmaceutical company can profit from it. This is great because it makes it more affordable for the patient; however, it also means there is less funding for large-scale, random controlled clinical trials. Instead of “big pharma” pursuing the research and treatment options for LDN, other companies are advocating for trials, educating the public, and promoting the benefits.
Low Dose Naltrexone, Depression & Anxiety
As mentioned earlier, there is a relationship between aging and depression and anxiety. By combating aging, low dose naltrexone helps ease symptoms of depression and anxiety.
It is able to do so by reducing excess systemic inflammation through modulation of the immune system and reducing pro-inflammatory cytokines. LDN can also alleviate chronic disease and chronic pain, which is a common trigger for depression. By alleviating the pain, it indirectly helps with depression. Further, LDN stimulates the body to naturally produce more endorphins.
This boosts mood and increases energy. A study published in 2017 found endorphin elevations after 1 month of discontinuing LDN.
Many doctors are recommending LDN to their patients. For example, Dr. Judy Tsafrir, MD, a board certified adult and child psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, as well as a Harvard Medical School faculty member, said the following, “Patients consult me because they are suffering from symptoms related to brain health. Because LDN is safe, inexpensive, and sometimes a game-changer in my experience, it is worth trying it in almost every case.”
Those looking for an effective, accessible, and affordable option to help with depression and anxiety can buy low dose naltrexone online. A telehealth subscription service like AgelessRx,com, for example, will connect you with their medical team online by completing an intake form online. The medical team then reviews the intake form, and if approved, you will receive a shipment of LDN.
The ability to buy LDN online is a promising leap forward for mental health access. Many who suffer from depression and anxiety encounter too many hurdles when seeking help, hurdles that are that much more challenging when your mental health is suffering. Although the increasing numbers of depression and anxiety are bleak, low dose naltrexone could be the light at the end of the tunnel.