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Serotonin deficiency may not cause depression after all

RATE THIS! +36
Posted in Science on 16th Dec, 2013 01:19 AM by AlexMuller

Depression strikes some 35 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, contributing to lowered quality of life as well as an increased risk of heart disease and suicide. Treatments typically include psychotherapy, support groups and education as well as psychiatric medications.

 

SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, currently are the most commonly prescribed category of antidepressant drugs in the U.S., and have become a household name in treating depression.

 
The action of these compounds is fairly familiar. SSRIs increase available levels of serotonin, sometimes referred to as the feel-good neurotransmitter, in our brains. Neurons communicate via neurotransmitters, chemicals which pass from one nerve cell to another. A transporter molecule recycles unused transmitter and carries it back to the pre-synaptic cell. For serotonin, that shuttle is called SERT (short for “serotonin transporter”).
 
An SSRI binds to SERT and blocks its activity, allowing more serotonin to remain in the spaces between neurons. Yet, exactly how this biochemistry then works against depression remains a scientific mystery.
 
In fact, SSRIs fail to work for mild cases of depression, suggesting that regulating serotonin might be an indirect treatment only. “There’s really no evidence that depression is a serotonin-deficiency syndrome,” says Alan Gelenberg, a depression and psychiatric researcher at The Pennsylvania State University. “It’s like saying that a headache is an aspirin-deficiency syndrome.” SSRIs work insofar as they reduce the symptoms of depression, but “they’re pretty nonspecific,” he adds.
 
Now, research headed up by neuroscientists David Gurwitz and Noam Shomron of Tel Aviv University in Israel supports recent thinking that rather than a shortage of serotonin, a lack of synaptogenesis (the growth of new synapses, or nerve contacts) and neurogenesis (the generation and migration of new neurons) could cause depression.
 
In this model lower serotonin levels would merely result when cells stopped making new connections among neurons or the brain stopped making new neurons. So, directly treating the cause of this diminished neuronal activity could prove to be a more effective therapy for depression than simply relying on drugs to increase serotonin levels.

Tags: brainneuroscienceneuronsmental illnessdepressionserotoninSSRIserotonin deficiency

Read original article » Back to category

Comments

Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-12-16
+2
It is taking many years of research to understand depression just a bit better. This is very big problem and one hopes that the new knowledge will help treatment in the future
2 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-12-16
+1
The most complex structure that we know exists- mammalian brain. Depression is one of very complex malfunctions - so there is nothing more difficult than this - will take some time Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-12-16
+0
The problem is much more challenging than what non-scientists assume. It seems that scientists not have an inkling regarding how the human brain generates something like mood changes Reply
Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-12-16
+2
The idea of scientists manipulating brain functions, naturally, sound a bit creepy. But it also points to some possible good: treatment for millions of people tormented by depression
2 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-12-16
+0
I agree. Just as headaches are not caused by a lack of aspirin, the efficacy of serotonergic drugs are not a proof that depression is caused by a lack of serotonin. Reply
Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-12-16
+1
What causes depression, bipolar disorder, and other mental health problems is an open question. In some people, a serious infection or autoimmune disease could be the trigger.
1 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-12-16
+0
But it’s important to keep in mind that both infections and mood disorders are very common, making it difficult to work out what could be causing what Reply
Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2016-12-26
+0
This was so helpful and easy! Do you have any areltics on rehab? Reply


 

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