According to a new study that was conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and published online in Nature Neuroscience, it seems that artificially affecting serotonin levels in the brain may not be the best way to address depression.
Since depression is said to be caused by brain disturbances that affect cells’ ability to communicate, there may be a better method of treating the condition than prescription medications like Paxil or Effexor, the researchers say. During the study, scientists discovered that “the transmission of excitatory signals between cells becomes abnormal in depression,” according to senior author Scott M. Thompson, Ph.D., Professor and Interim Chair of the Department of Physiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
The most common antidepressant medications given to patients these days include Paxil and Effexor, which work by stopping the brain’s cells from absorbing serotonin. This effect is said to help the brain concentrate better. However, drugs like Paxil and Effexor are also linked to serious side effects like violent and suicidal thoughts and behavior. The effects of Paxil and Effexor over serotonin levels were once believed to be the most effective way of treating depression; however, modern research is proving that the risks simply outweigh the benefits of its use. This new study may go a long way to proving that fact.
“Dr. Thompson’s groundbreaking research could alter the field of psychiatric medicine, changing how we understand the crippling public health problem of depression and other mental illness,” says E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., Vice President for Medical Affairs at the University of Maryland and John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “This is the type of cutting-edge science that we strive toward at the University of Maryland, where discoveries made in the laboratory can impact the clinical practice of medicine.”