Article: Is Serotonin an Upper or a Downer?

A recent scientific article challenges the prevailing "wisdom" regarding anti-depressants. For five decades, anti-depressants have been manufactured and prescribed based on the low-serotonin theory. This theory claims that depression is caused by a lack of sufficient serotonin in the synapses of our brains, and in fact many anti-depressants work by trying to counteract this "problem."

However, a recent in-depth scientific study of serotonin and depression, finds that when people experience mild to moderate depression, they don't actually have a shortage of serotonin. Instead the brain re-allocates serotonin away from some areas, such as those responsible for growth, immune function, and the stress response, and shifts those chemicals to areas that are responsible for conscious thought. This shift is part of the brain's natural response to depressive moods/thoughts.

New research indicates that anti-depressants actually prevent the brain from implementing this natural response, and instead act as a roadblock. The authors of the recent article suggest that this roadblock may contribute to why many people actually feel worse, not better, when they go on anti-depressants, especially in the first two weeks. This recent scientific article is just one more indication that perhaps anti-depressants may not be exactly as advertised. Regardless, I continue to be amazed by how resilient the human body and brain are - "being okay" and "feeling well" are our natural state. It is good to remember that even when we feel anxious or down, our bodies and brains are constantly working to make us feel well again.

To find out more about this new research on the brain, serotonin, and depression, check out this longer article.