Brain Plasticity may Vary Depending on Depression Drug Treatments: Research

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The drugs which are used to treat the worst cases of anxiety and severe depression may be causing long term changes in brain function according to new research.

The findings show that the likes of Prozac which work on the basis of ‘Selective serotonin uptake’ boosting the levels of serotonin in clients to establish mental well being, have long lasting effects. So too it may take a long time before the drugs have any effect at all, with the side effects possibly outweighing the benefits of use.

The new information that the drugs can bring about not only a psychological change, but a physiological one too has been published by BioMed. Their investigation took into account an area of the brain known as ‘The hippocampus,’ the part which deals with long term memory and our spatial awareness. The term plasticity relates to the activity and changes within the neuronal cells in this region of the brain.

Whilst the ‘plasticity’ i.e. this activity changes and the patterns of these changes can vary over our life spans, substantial alterations are usually linked to major conditions such as depression.

Nippon Medical School researchers have based their evidence on what occurs in adult lab mice brains as a result of using Prozac over a long term period. The study they conducted showed that the drug causes a definite change to granule cells in the hippocampus. It also affected the connections between other neuronal cells of that order. These cells were seen by the researchers to undergo serotonin dependent ‘dematuration.’

This sees an increase in the activity of the neuronal cells and reverses the development of the genetic material that has aged and developed as the creature has developed. The evidence points out that these changes can in themselves actually increase anxiousness, the very object that the drug is targeted at deterring.

Katsunori Kobayashi lead researcher explained, “Some of the side effects associated with Prozac in humans, such as anxiety and behavioral switching patterns, may be due to excessive dematuration of granule cells in the hippocampus.”

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