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Why Antidepressants Are Ineffective

According to a research study sponsored by the World Bank and the World Health Organization, the leading cause of disability in the United States is the Unipolar disorder, a type of major depression. To such patients, antidepressants like Prozac are recommended in the initial stages, for an year. 27 Million depression patients take these antidepressants in the United States. The medicines are found to be ineffective in treating depression in half of these patients. Researchers at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York have now an explanation for the ineffectiveness of these drugs. This article tries to gain further insight on this topic.

Human brain functions because of millions of cells called neurons. These cells have components called receptors. Naturally present chemical substances in the brain called hormones, stimulate these receptors to generate electrical signals. These signals are send and received by the receptors of other cells. In this way, cells communicate with each other. The signals pass through pathways called neurotransmitters.

Serotonin is an important hormone cum neurotransmitter of the brain. It controls mood, sleep and learning activities in the role of a hormone. As neurotransmitter, it helps in sending and receiving of signals from one cell to another. Serotonin is produced in the middle of the brain by cells called Raphe neurons. The researchers found that Excess presence of Serotonin receptors in Raphe neurons, make them perform low and respond less to antidepressants.

The researchers conducted the experiments on laboratory generated mice. These mice had high levels of Serotonin receptors in their brain. When these mice were given well known antidepressant like Prozac, the response of the drug was found to be almost nil. When serotonin receptors number was reduced from the middle section of the brain, the drug was found to be responsive again in the mice.

According to researcher Dr.Rene Hen of the Columbia University Medical Centre in New York, this research study should make the doctors observe more discretion while prescribing antidepressants to mental illness patients. Antidepressants are notorious for being partially effective and coming with a range of side effects in people who take them. But until now they are most effective treatment means for addressing mild to moderate depression. Other means of depression treatment are painful, costly, time consuming and do not guarantee positive results at the end.

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