How your depression meds affect your brain’s makeup
You may have heard that depression is caused by abnormal chemistry in the brain and that antidepressants work by altering the levels of these substances. But what does this mean? What is the chemistry behind depression?
Neurotransmitters are messenger chemicals that carry signals between nerve cells in the brain.
Researchers are still studying the biological causes of depression, but it’s thought that three neurotransmitters play a role in mood regulation:
- Noradrenalin, a deficiency of which in some people causes depression, and an overabundance of which may cause mania;
- Serotonin, the ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitter, which can promote a fall in norepinephrine levels; and
- Dopamine, which is associated with the reward we get that causes us to continue participating in an activity and is linked to addiction.
Other contributors to depression can be genetic factors, childhood experiences, medical conditions, and our day-to-day relationships with other people.