How Exactly Does an Antideppressent Drug Work in the Brain?

Question by brian k: How exactly does an antideppressent drug work in the brain?
Does the drug know what part{s} of the brain to work on?

Best answer:

Answer by Ben
Most of the time your brain has differing levels of Serotonin which can fluctuate more depending on how bad your depression is. Medicines like zoloft help to stabilize these levels. Serotonin

Answer by GaryR
Your brain’s neurons secrete a neurotransmitter chemical called Serotonin. The chemical carries the electrical impulse from one neuron to the next, and after the signal has passed, the Serotonin is taken back up into the end of the nerve fiber, ready to work when called upon again. In some people’s brains, the Serotonin is taken back up into the nerve fiber end too quickly, before the signal has had a chance to completely pass. This results in an incomplete transmission of the signal, and shows up to the individual as “depression.” They all describe it similarly: they don’t have the energy to think, they feel like they’re living in a grey cloud, they don’t feel alert and happy. Antidepressants fall into different categories, but one of the most popular is called a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor, or SSRI. Drugs like Zoloft, Paxil or Prozac fall into this catergory. They cause the reuptake of the Serotonin to be slowed down so that the electrical signal has a continuous path for a longer period of time. The sensation for the user is that they now feel more alert, they feel better, the dark clouds are lifted, and they just feel much less depressed. The drug knows to work on the Serotonin in the brain because that’s the only place Serotonin is found. Since drugs cross the blood/brain barrier with difficulty, it takes about 21 days of taking the drug before the user notices an improvement in their mood. They need to get into counseling or therapy while this is going on, because after about a year the body adjusts to the medication, and they’ll go back to being depressed. With psychotherapy along with the drug, they can mentally get a handle on whatever it is that’s depressing them, and remain not depressed after they stop taking the drug.

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