Aylesbury man with severe depression claims 'revolutionary' drug trial improved symptoms overnight

  • ITV Meridian's Charlotte Briere-Edney's reports

A participant in a clinical trial looking into a new drug for treatment-resistant depression has hailed the medication as "revolutionary".

Gulliver Waite, 28, suffered from severe depression since he was a teenager, but told ITV Meridian that his symptoms started getting better the very next day after he started taking drug called Pramipexole.

The data scientist from Aylesbury was given the drug, also known as PAX-D, as part of a clinical trial being run by the University of Oxford through Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust

Though he didn't initially know if he was being given the real drug or a placebo, he says the improvement in his energy levels and mood was immediate.

"I was obviously still me, but a different version of me that could could do things for themselves and be happy," he said.

"It was it was very strange, but in a very good way."

Prior to enrolling on the clinical trial, Gulliver had suffered from depression and low mood for years.

He'd tried a wide range of treatments including medications and talking therapies, but nothing had worked to improve his symptoms.

Gulliver's mother Cate Campbell told us she had seen him 'perk up' after taking the drug. She said: "As a mum, you just want to scoop up your kids and make everything okay.

"His mood improved quite quickly and he was just...different!

"He just perked up, and was just so much happier than he had been," she gushes. "And so much more able to make plans and do things and have a life at last!"

Participants on the clinical trial have regular check-ups with researchers at the Warneford Hospital in Oxford

Pramipexole works by boosting the mood-altering brain chemical dopamine.

It has been used for decades to treat Parkinson's disease and restless leg syndrome, and is inexpensive and widely available.

This is one of the first trials to discover whether it can be an effective treatment for depression.

The trial is only half way through, but lead researcher, Dr Michael Browning, says results of the trial so far have been "promising".

The Professor of Computational Psychiatry warned that pramipexole, or PAX-D, may not be a suitable treatment for everyone with severe depression because of its side effects.

"The side effects of this drug are generally more marked than they are for the standard first line treatments that you might get from your GP for depression.

"And so this probably wouldn't be a very good drug for everyone to use as a first line treatment.

"But once you've tried the standard treatments and depression symptoms are still there and still causing problems in your life, then it starts to become more of a reasonable thing to consider."

"So for people that have tried the normal treatments for depression, and those haven't worked, this would give us another way of trying to help them."

One of the common side effects of pramipexole is nausea, and it can also lead to more risk-taking behaviour.

Gulliver admits he did experience nausea when he started the drug.

"I was given an anti-nausea drug for the first month while I adjusted to the medication.

"I’d go through the horrible nausea again because the outcome has just been so positive."

He's urging others suffering with severe depression to consider taking part in the trial.

"I know people don't like labels, but for me, being able to label it, and find something that can help was extremely validating."

"It’s important that people consider taking part in research. The only reason I could get the help I did on this trial is because of the people that volunteered for research before me."

The study is being run by clinicians and researchers at Oxford's Warneford Hospital with funding from the National Institute for Health and Care Research.

The trial is still recruiting and people suffering from depression which has not been helped by other treatments may be able to enrol.