Biochemical Factors of Depression

Depression is most likely the result of the disruption of the neurotransmitter function. The neurotransmitters are the chemicals that carry signals from the different parts of the brains. Normally the neurotransmitters jump from one nerve cell to the next and don't loose any of the signal`s strength. However, when someone is depressed their neurotransmitters either loose some of the strength of the signal or the signal is disrupted when it moves from one nerve cell to another. The three most important ones affecting a persons mood are serotonin, noradrenaline, and dopamine.

The first 4 or so minutes do not talk specifically about depression, but are still very informative and can help with understanding the neurotransmitters in both normal cells and cells in a depressed brain. starting after about 4 minutes the video talks more about depression specifically

external image ysmdepression5.jpg
The picture above shows the lack of movement going on in a depressed brain while in the normal brain there is much more activity going on because all the signals are moving with the appropriate amount of strength.

Genetics do have some effect on the likely hood of a person to suffer depression. Depression does run in families and people with a close relative that has suffered from depression is 150% more likely to suffer from depression than a person without a relative with depression. This does not mean, however, that a person must have a connection to someone with depression to develop the condition.
In all depressions the transmission of serotonin (C10H12N2O) is most likely disruptive.
Melancholic and psychotic depressions are likely also caused by a problems of the transmission of noradrenaline (C8H11NO3) and dopamine (C8H11NO2) in the brain.
tyrosine helps create dopamine
tyrosine helps create dopamine
Dopamine is easily oxidized, so eating foods that are not easily oxidized could help conserve the dopamine-using neurons. It is also often referred to as the "happy neurotransmitter". When a person has a normal amount they are able to feel things such as pleasure, attachment and or love. When a person has a lack of dopamine they are unable to feel love, remorse for their actions or pleasure. A major deficiency can lead to a person not being able to respond emotionally or to express their emotions properly. Therefore, a lack in dopamine is a cause in depression because the person is not able to feel normally or feel love and pleasure

(Nicholas K.) - While reading your paper I recognized the comment about dopamine and while reading Alyssa's paper I also recognized that dopamine was created when falling in love. If dopamine is made in the body when falling in love then does a lack of love technically cause depression?
Paige Levine- As I mentioned after you commented, a lack of dopamine does lead to the inability to feel love. I am not completely sure, as i would have to do much more in depth research, but I believe that it would not work that way. Dopamine is a chemical made naturally in the body. The amount made does influence a persons ability to love. I do see where the lack of love could cause depression. If a person is unable to love then they could believe that this is a cause of their depression, where as in reality it is actually a lack of a chemical.
Alyssa - If i can jump in and try to explain some. I answered this in paige's question on my wiki page, but dopamine is always occurring, just when you are falling in love and in phase 2, it produces more when you are seeing or thinking about that person in anyway. Also, what can happen is when your low on dopamine you want to increase it and you can do that buy eating chocolate or drinking coffee, these are only temporary fixes though. When this happens you can overwhelm on dopamine and sometimes can cause you to be enraged and anger when you normally would not. Dopamine would have an effect if you are low on it and cause depression like symptoms because you would feel: a lack of love, lack of remorse for your actions, distractibility, and a lack of pleasure. Dopamine can effect so much more since it effects so many parts of your body, that if you have a dopamine deficiency if could cause depression like symptoms. All the effects of dopamine deficiency can be found here.
Zoe T- So hypothetically, if a person were allergic to certain dopamine-providing foods like chocolate as you stated Alyssa, could they be more likely to be depressed since they have less outside assistance in providing dopamine?

(Sara K.)- Since genetics are somewhat involved with inheriting depression, would this mean that the lack of dopamine produced within a person be inherited solely by their genetics?

Paige Levine- Depression is often linked to genetics. So yes a lack of dopamine produced can be passed down from generation to generation, even though this is not the only way to have depression. In my research I read about a situation where identical twins grew up in separate households and yet if one twin was diagnosed with depression, the other twin would develop depression more than 2/3 of the time. Genetics are not the only way people can develop depression, however. Certain traumatic events such as the death of a loved one or dramatic changes in environment can lead to the development of depression.

Lauren Wetzel - If depression is caused by the lack of dopamine, then how do drugs, such as anti-depressants, affect the levels of dopamine in the brain. Are there any harmful side effects of using anti-depressants? Are there anyways to improve depression long term without the use of anti-depressants.

Paige Levine- Anti- depressants work by introducing selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors into the bloodstream that bond to serotonin transporter. The serotonin transporter regulates the levels of serotonin. By bonding the inhibitors to the serotonin transporters, more serotonin is produced to be used in the body. As a lack of serotonin is the most common cause of depression, anti depressants usually stop the symptoms of depression. There are some negative effects caused by the use of an anti-depressant. An anti depressant pushes back the symptoms of depression, but as soon as a person stops taking them all of the symptoms come back stronger than before for a short period of time. Some anti- depressants can also increase the possibility of cancer outside of the brain. Anti depressants also present a risk to unborn children if the mother is taking them. Also in general, anti depressants have general negative effects on older people.
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