Anti-Suicide Nasal Spray For Depressed Soldiers, Is It Needed?

Posted on 20 August 2012 by author

Let’s face it- war is not a pretty thing, and soldiers have to go through things that us normal people cant even begin to imagine, so it’s not surprising that they would feel out of sorts or down in the dumps after a skirmish or a tour. Some have even resorted to killing themselves, and suicides in the US Army have been reported to be a new record with 38 soldiers in the previous month, more than double the number of June. In 2012 alone, 66 suicides have been confirmed, with 50 more under investigation, meaning more American soldiers have been taking their own lives than dying out on the field.

What’s the solution? It’s nothing clear-cut as of yet, but the US Army has just awarded a grant to one Dr. Michael Kubek of the Indiana University School of Medicine for one possible answer. Kubek and his research team have $3 million of the army’s money to work on a nasal spray that can be a very effective way of stopping people from having suicidal thoughts and decrease the number of soldiers killing themselves.

This sounds completely unorthodox, but there is in fact a scientific explanation as to why they would use a nasal spray to prevent suicides. Thyrotripon-releasing hormone or TRH is a hormone produced by the hypothalamus that is essential in regulating a person’s thyroid glands, and in medicine, is used to test for thyroid disorders. It’s also been known to have antidepressant properties and has been proven to be fast-acting in delivering euphoria to the patient.

However, this method has not been regularly used by psychiatrists to treat their patients because it’s not effective when taken as a pill because TRH is incapable of traveling through blood into the brain. The only known way to deliver the hormone effectively is through an injection directly to the spine.

Dr. Kubek and his team have three years to work on a delivery system that will bypass this problem, and their best bet is through the nasal cavity. The doctor also adds that should they be successful, it will not be for soldiers only. Doctors will be able to prescribe TRH sprays instead of pills to treat their own patients’ depression, and this may just help curb the worrying increase in suicides not just in the US but the whole world as well.


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