Serotonin Map Of The Brain Could Help Scientists Create Better Antidepressants

An estimated 350 million people around the world, and 3.3 million American adults, suffer from depression.

In the U.S., 10 percent of adults (and as many as 25 percent of women in their 40s and 50s), are taking antidepressants, most of which operate by targeting serotonin receptors in the brain. While we know that serotonin — a brain chemical involved in the regulation of mood, sleep, sexual desire and social behavior — likely plays a role in mood disorders like anxiety and depression, we understand startlingly little about how it works.

The most commonly-prescribed antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), target neurotransmitters, preventing the reabsorption of serotonin. This changes the balance of serotonin, helping brain cells to send and receive messages, and in turn boosts mood. While SSRIs can help boost mood for many users, they can also have serious side effects, including nausea, sexual disfunction and insomnia. More troublingly, antidepressants are only estimated to be effective for roughly half of the patients who take them.

To better understand the workings of serotonin, scientists at Johns Hopkins Brain Science Institute are seeking to create a “serotonin map of —> Read More Here


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