Neurotransmitters And Depression: What You Need To Know
Although studies continue to provide evidence for the different ways in which neurotransmitters relate to depression, research clearly shows that there is a connection between the two. Lets explore neurotransmitters and their role in depression as well as the brain.
With more than 264 million people around the world living with some form of depression, most of us are probably familiar with the condition. We hear about depression in TED Talks, we read about it on social media, we share statistics about it, and the majority of us know people living with it. But regardless of how much or how little we know about depression, we need to understand that the condition represents more than a sudden mood change or a temporary emotional reaction. Instead, depression is an unshakable feeling of sadness that affects every part of our lives.
Treatments That Can Help Resolve Symptoms Caused By A Chemical Imbalance In The Brain
Fortunately, there is no shortage of prescription-based medications that can help individuals struggling with mental health disorders, including severe anxiety. Some of the more commonly prescribed ones include Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin, all of which can provide relief in as little as 30 minutes. Psychotherapy with a licensed therapist is also an effective way to resolve chronic worrying, anxiety, and much more. That being said, if you feel nervous all the time or struggle with any of the mental health disorders detailed in this article, consider speaking with one of our friendly and knowledgeable associates today. Call us at .
Interactions Between Neurotransmitter And Neuromodulatory Systems In Anxiety
It is critical to think of the brain as a dynamic system that is always changing and compensating to keep a balanced state, which may change over time with ageing, or chronic stress and could eventually lead to a pathological allostatic balance.
When we think of a neurotransmitter, we have the tendency to think of an individual;synapse receiving a particular neurotransmitter and expressing receptors for this neurotransmitter only. In fact, the picture is much more complex, as a single neuron in cortex may participate in more than 10,000 synapses and receive different neurotransmitters, from glutamate, GABA, serotonin, or dopamine, to different peptides like orexins or neuropeptide Y. It may;also respond to endocannabinoids, signaling fatty acids or microRNAs. In addition, released neurotransmitters can activate receptors located at the plasmatic membrane of neurons outside synapses. Moreover, astrocytes may also release their own transmitters onto synapses, including glutamate, dserine, and glycine, which are required for normal synaptic transmission and synaptic plasticity .
There are many other relevant interactions between stressmediators. Chronic CORT treatment mimicking chronic stress induces an increase in mRNA and protein levels of NE transporter and dopamine hydroxylase in the locus coeruleus, amygdala and hippocampus, suggesting increased NE synthesis .
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Simplified View Of The Brain Circuitry Involved In Anxiety
Many brain regions appear to be involved in the recognition and regulation of negative emotional stimuli and in the generation of cognitive, behavioral, or somatic responses to these stimuli. Nonetheless, a set of limbic structures appear to be critical for the regulation of negative emotion. In particular, the amygdala nuclei situated in the median temporal lobes appears to play a crucial role. The principal neural circuits thought to be related to anxiety are presented in . It is important to bear in mind that this circuitry has been established from research on experimental animals. Although data from functional imaging are consistent with this model, it should be noted that these pathways have not all been demonstrated conclusively in the human brain.
Neural circuits implicated in anxiety disorders.
Notes: Green arrows: principal inputs to the BLA; orange arrows: principal outputs of the BLA; blue arrows: principal outputs of the CeA and BNST.
Abbreviations: ACC, anterior cingulate cortex; BLA, basolateral amygdala; BNST, bed nucleus of the stria terminalis; CeA, central nucleus of the amygdala; PFC, prefrontal cortex.
A Combination Of Influences
Currently, most professionals who treat panic disorder rely on a multidimensional theory to understand the causes of panic and anxiety symptoms. This theory is based on the notion that a combination of factors leads to the development of panic disorder, meaning that a chemical imbalance may be partly to blame.
Other influences, such as genetics and environmental factors, also likely play a role in a persons experience with panic disorder.
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Etifoxine On The Gabaa Receptor And Neurosteroids
Two distinct but complementary molecular mechanisms have been described for etifoxine, namely a direct effect on the GABAA receptor and a facilitatory effect on the synthesis of 3,5-neurosteroids. These actions would be expected to act in synergy to augment inhibitory GABA neurotransmission.
The second molecular target of etifoxine is the synthetic machinery for neurosteroids in mitochondria and, in particular, the 18 kDa mitochondrial translocator protein to which it binds. TSPO is a transporter protein responsible for presenting steroids in the inner leaflet of mitochondria. This process is thought to be the rate-limiting step in the synthesis of neurosteroids. In rats, administration of etifoxine leads to a dose-dependent rise in concentrations of pregnenolone, progesterone, 5-dihydroprogesterone, and allopregnanolone in plasma and cerebrospinal fluid. This effect is preserved in adrenalectomized and castrated animals, suggesting that the increase is due to stimulation of neurosteroid synthesis in the CNS. The relevance of this effect to the anxiolytic effect of etifoxine is suggested by the observation that these effects are attenuated by the administration of finasteride, an inhibitor of 5-reductase a key enzyme in the synthesis of neurosteroids.,
What To Do About Anxiety And Body Chemicals
There are a few hormones/neurotransmitters that would require some type of medical attention. Thyroid hormone is the best example, as this hormone needs to be regulated in order to prevent anxiety. While medication can be prescribed to address the vast majority of neurotransmitters, the majority of anxiety disorders can be improved through basic mental health treatments.
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The Basic Anatomy Of The Amygdala
The amygdala is an almondshaped structure that is buried deep within the temporal lobe. It was first identified by Burdach in the early nineteenth century. He originally described a group of cells that are now known as the basolateral complex. Subsequently, a large number of structures surrounding the basolateral complex have been identified, what is now dubbed the amygdaloid complex . The nuclei within the amygdaloid complex may be broadly subdivided into the basolateral complex, the cortical nucleus, the medial nucleus, the central nucleus, and the intercalated cell clusters. The regions that appear to be more critical for anxiety are the basolateral amygdala within the basolateral complex, the central amygdala within the central nucleus, and the medial amygdala within the medial nucleus. They differ in terms of cell types, functional organization, and connectivity. The BLA is a cortexlike structure that can be further subdivided into the lateral amygdala , basal amygdala , and basal medial amygdala nuclei. The CeA can be further subdivided into the lateral and medial central amygdala . Broadly, in rodents, it has been suggested that the BLA encodes the threat value of a stimulus, while the central nucleus is essential for the basic speciesspecific defensive responses associated with fear .
Current Research On Gaba
Current research on GABA shows that it may be effective for improving stress response, easing anxiety, increasing immunity and can be useful for enhancing sleep quality and minimizing the time it takes to get to sleep.
One study examined the effects of GABA as a relaxant and anxiolytic on immunity in stressed volunteers. Participants of the study were asked to perform the stressful task of crossing a suspended bridge while researchers measured levels of immunity via Immunoglobulin A . One group of volunteers received the supplement GABA, while the other group received a placebo. The results indicated that those volunteers who received GABA had higher salivary concentrations of IgA, indicating that GABA could actually enhance immunity under stressful conditions. GABA was shown to have relaxant effects in the volunteers and its impact could be seen within 1 hour of its administration.
Another study from 2011 investigated how GABA influences human adults psychologically and physiologically under a condition of mental stress. Participants were given 100 mg of GABA or a placebo of dextrin. The results showed that EEG activities including alpha band and beta band brain waves decreased depending on the mental stress task load in; the GABA group, signifying alleviated stress levels.
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Neurotransmitters In The Amygdala Involved In Anxiety
Given that stress induces anxiety, stress mediators in the brain, such as CRF, norepinephrine , and glucocorticoids can all induce anxiety when microinjected into the;amygdala. Other neurotransmitters and modulators known to be involved in anxiety include serotonin, dopamine, GABA, acetylcholine, endocannabinoids, neuropeptide Y , and orexins. Evidence of their role in anxiety while acting in the amygdala will be summarized succinctly.
How Do I Test For Neurotransmitter Imbalances
The two main neurotransmitter tests used at Revivelife include:
- Neurobasic Urine Test A test to assess the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, GABA, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and glutamate. Because neurotransmitters are linked to sex and adrenal hormones for optimal care we recommend partnering this test with our Hormone 1-Blood Test. This test may be recommended if you have energy, mood, or brain health concerns including attention deficit, traumatic brain injuries or a concussion. Note a referral will be made to one of our nurse practitioners to order this test.
- OATS Test A comprehensive general health urine test measuring organic acids that offers a metabolic snapshot of overall health with 75 markers of Digestion, Detoxification, Longevity, Nutrients, and the Neurotransmitters that regulate mood and behavior epinephrine, norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine. May be recommended if you experience any of the following concerns: Digestive bloating, gas, diarrhea or constipation, Sensitivities foods, environmental; Detoxification liver health, hormone imbalances, Longevity overall health, Immunity colds, flus, allergies; Nutrient Deficiencies fatigue, brain fog, skin concerns; Stress & Brain Function anxiety, depression, insomnia and or Traumatic Brain Injuries weak memory, concentration, mood changes; Weight Concerns
- My Favourite Neurotransmitter Test for Mood: is the OATS test because it evaluates other factors also that may be linked to mood.
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How Maois Work And Common Side Effects
Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors are a class of drugs that were developed in the 1950s. They’re quite effective in treating depression, panic disorder, and other anxiety disorders. They’re used less frequently than selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and other antidepressants because of necessary dietary precautions and risks of adverse reactions when mixed with certain drugs.
Some common MAOIs include:
Emsam is a transdermal patch that’s applied once a day. This mode of administration may be less likely to cause the dietary complications associated with an oral route of administration.
Different Anxiety Responses Associated With Different Stress Circuitries
To understand the different underpinnings associated with stress responses, some studies have suggested that different neurotransmitter systems may have differential roles in stress responses depending on the state of the animal or the type of stress. Recently, Smith et al. reported that while CRF receptor 1 antagonists have anxiolytic effects and allow escape in previously submissive animals, 2adrenoreceptor antagonists have anxiogenic effects and hinder escape in nonsubmissive escaping mice .
Results obtained in a study using fMRI in rats receiving intravenous yohimbine, which induces stress and anxiety , showed that the brain activity pattern found after yohimbine, which included activation of limbic structures including prefrontal, cingulate, orbitofrontal, and retrosplenial cortices, CeA, ventral hippocampus, BNST, and the shell of the nucleus accumbens, could be strongly attenuated by a 2adrenoceptor agonist and by a dopamine D1 receptor antagonist . Moreover, pretreatment with a CRF1R antagonist inhibited yohimbineinduced activation in the amygdala, striatum, and cingulate cortex, while an orexin type1 receptor antagonist inhibited the response in frontohippocampal regions as well as the extended amygdala . In summary, it appears that the behavioral choices in response to stress are the result of an interplay between different neurotransmitter systems in different brain areas involved in stress responses and anxiety.
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The Chemical Imbalance Theory
According to chemical imbalance theories, panic disorder symptoms can be attributed to imbalances in naturally occurring chemical messengers in the brain, known as neurotransmitters. These help communicate information between nerve cells brain throughout the brain.
The human brain is thought to have hundreds of these different types of neurotransmitters, and chemical imbalance theories suggest that a person can become more susceptible to developing panic disorder symptoms if one or more of these neurotransmitters do not remain balanced.
The neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid are specifically believed to be linked to mood and anxiety disorders. These neurotransmitters are in charge of regulating various bodily and mental functions.
First, serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is largely associated with mood, sleep, appetite, and other regulatory functions in the body. Experts have also found that reduced levels of serotonin are connected to depression and anxiety.
The neurotransmitter dopamine may also contribute to symptoms. Dopamine influences, among other functions, a persons energy levels, attention, rewards, and movement.
Norepinephrine is also related to anxiety as it released in the fight-or-flight response, or they physiological response to stress. Last, GABA plays a role in balancing excitement or agitation and inducing feelings of calm and relaxation through its inhibitory effect.
If I Feel Nervous All The Time Is It Possible I Have A Chemical Imbalance
According to the Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit academic medical center headquartered in Rochester, MN, experiencing occasional anxiety is not uncommon. After all, such feelings are a byproduct of the mind and body reacting to dangerous, unfamiliar, or stressful situations, all of which can be either real or perceived. Some might even argue that a certain degree of anxiety is essential in that it enables us to stay alert and aware of our surroundings.
That said, severe anxiety, which is characterized by intense, excessive, and persistent worry, is another matter entirely. And these are the feelings that many individuals struggling with social anxiety and generalized anxiety disorder, for example, experience regularly. To contextualize just how prevalent severe anxiety is in America, we need only take a look at a study published by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America . The study found that an estimated 40 million Americans struggle with anxiety so severe that they have to take prescription-based medication, undergo psychotherapy, or both.
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How Is Depression Treated
Researchers continue to study the brain to understand the connection between neurotransmitters and depression. Depression is a complex condition that can be caused and affected by a variety of different variables. Whether an individual is experiencing low levels of a particular neurotransmitter or is having garbled communication between parts of the brain, our neurological health plays a critical role in our experience of depression.
Luckily, there is hope. Medications like Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors may help restore that balance and improve life for people living with depression. Psychotherapy can also help depression sufferers cope with their experiences. At StoneRidge Centers, our depression treatment program incorporates techniques like brain mapping, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, and a carefully maintained Brain Diet, which focuses on the connection between nutrition and brain health.
Here at StoneRidge Centers, we take the best treatment programs science has to offer and provide them to you with care and compassion. Call us today at if you or a loved one are living with depression.
Anxiety As A Symptom Rather Than A Disease
Anxiety is like a fever, telling us that something is dysregulated, requiring attention and treatment. In this way, it should be seen more as a symptom, rather than as a disease itself. Second, we need to look beyond the brain, at all systems in the body, to fully understand and address anxiety.
In my practice, patients with anxiety often complain of physical symptoms such as chronic fatigue, chest pain, stomach bloating, headaches, and body aches. Often, doctors ignore possible connections between these symptoms and anxiety, or assume theyre caused by the anxiety. With careful listening and thorough testing, however, Ive come to understand that these symptoms often indicate underlying medical conditions that are connected to and possibly causing anxiety.;
Whereas most doctors today treat each of the bodys systems separately, the reality is that all of the bodys systems depend on and work in concert with one another. Brain health and function can only be understood in the context of whole-body health.;
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What Causes Depression In The Brain
One of the most difficult aspects of understanding depression is pinpointing its root causes, as they vary from person to person. Sometimes, the reason is clear, such as witnessing or living through a traumatic event. Other times, the reason for depression is subtle and hidden under layers of suppressed memories. There are even times when were depressed for no clear reason. To help us understand why depression can manifest itself in so many different ways, researchers study the brain. Since our brains control, manage and balance our emotions, they are the key to understanding how and why we develop depression in the first place.
A Harvard Medical School special report, Understanding Depression explains the condition like this: Certain areas of the brain help regulate mood. Researchers believe thatmore important than levels of specific brain chemicalsnerve cell connections, nerve cell growth, and the functioning of nerve circuits have a major impact on depression.
Many of us blame our brain chemistry for depression or anxiety. But research like the report above indicates that the brains role in depression is much more complex than simply regulating emotions. Instead, the difference between a person who struggles with depression and a person who does not may have more to do with how the different parts of our brain work together.
Lets explore more about neurotransmitters and their role in the brain.