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For curing depression, antidepressants are the first line of treatment prescribed to people worldwide. These medications can often take weeks or even months to kick-in. Now, medical researchers believe they have discovered why antidepressants take so long to work and say their findings could help develop stronger acting treatments.
The most often prescribed antidepressants are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as Celexa and Prozac.
These medications work through preventing a reabsorption of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter which is a chemical carries signals between the nerve cells in the brain. It’s believed that serotonin has a good influence on a person’s mood, emotions and sleep.
After carrying a chemical message, serotonin is usually reabsorbed by nerve cells, known as reuptake.
By blocking the reuptake of serotonin, the medication allows for more serotonin to pass messages to nearby nerve cells.
However, these medications can build-up in the patches of the cell membranes called lipid rafts, this fact was discovered by researchers from the University of Illinois.
Once there is an accumulation of serotonin in these rafts, they play a part in decreasing the levels of an important signaling molecule called G proteins.
In people with depression, G proteins tend to congregate and lose access to a molecule called cyclic AMP, which is necessary to work and transmit signals of serotonin.
In the study, which was performed on rat subjects, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, researchers bathed a type of brain cell with different SSRIs and located G proteins. They discovered that drugs building up in the rafts over a period of time, while levels of G proteins decrease.
Depression is a disease which is thought to infect one in 10 people at some point during their lifetime.
Previous research studies have proven that about four percent of children aged 5 to 16 years of age in the United Kingdom have some type of mental health condition. In a study done by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation it was discovered that prescriptions for antidepressants have more than doubled since 1998 in the world’s wealthiest countries.
Dr. Mark Rasenick, a neuroscientist at the University of Illinois states, “It’s been a puzzle for quite a long time why SSRI antidepressants can take up to two months to start reducing symptoms, especially because we know they bind to their targets within minutes.”
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