How do antidepressant medications work?

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Kelly Traver
Internal Medicine

Antidepressant medications raise serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels. With higher levels of BDNF, hippocampal cells start to regenerate. Reduction in glutamate and cortisol levels (as seen in the successful treatment of depression) also allows for a return to the normal BDNF level. With successful treatment, there is not only an improvement in mood but also a reduction in the physical consequences of depression. Specifically, pain often decreases with a return to the normal level of serotonin.

Continue Learning about Depression Treatment

Depression Treatment

Depression Treatment

Because it is a multi-faceted condition, treatment for depression is multi-faceted as well. Minor depression can often be treated with therapy and a few simple lifestyle changes, while chronic or major depression treatment can req...

uire medication in addition to therapy. In some severe cases, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be used. It's important to work with your mental health professional to determine which course of treatment for your type of depression is most appropriate.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.