The deaths of Robin Williams and young star Sawyer Sweetin shed light on the mental health crisis in the United States. Although there is a growing debate about whether mental illness commands the attention and health dollars needed to effectively treat affected people, there may be some new hope on the horizon.
One major mental illness is major depressive disorder (MDD). As defined by Mayoclinic.org, MDD, also known as clinical depression, is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. In severe cases it causes suicidal thoughts and depression accompanied by delusions or hallucinations, which may involve themes of personal inadequacy or negative themes. There are approximately 15 million adults in the United States with MDD, many of whom do not receive treatment due to a lack of understanding, reasons for health care coverage, cost, and access to care. Mental health resources are depleted across the country. Unfortunately, for many who receive care, current treatments are not always effective and often result in people foregoing medical help with potentially dangerous outcomes.