How does Antidepressants Alleviate Depression?

Every person on earth has billions of brain cells. These neurons (or nerve cells) both send and receive “chemical messengers” called neurotransmitters, and without them we could neither think nor feel! These neurotransmitters are powerful chemicals that have a major impact on our happiness, sadness, worry, anger, logic, sleep, memory, anxiety, thinking, and even facial expression. In depression, many times a deficiency of vital neurotransmitters exists – for example the levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, or GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) are low.

The Way Antidepressants Work:

  • When an electrical impulse reaches the part of a neuron where neurotransmitters are stored (called the pre-receptor site), these chemicals are released from the nerve cell and enter the gap between neurons (called the synapse). These neurotransmitters then travel across the synapse and attach to a post-receptor site in another neuron.
  • Antidepressants are normally non-addicting drugs that block the reuptake (returning to the same neutron from which it left) and lessening (degradation) of the depression-related neurotransmitters between synapses. Thus they increase the amount of neurotransmitters and ultimately alter other chemicals within the nerve cell and nervous system. The result is a cascade of chemical reactions in the brain, which, in turn, lifts the depressed mood and alters behavior.

Medical Proof to Substantiate the Need of Medication for some cases of Depression:

With the aid of PET scans (Positron Emission Tomography), physicians can see the difference between the function of a normal brain and a depressed brain. Because PET scans map how the brain functions, they also display changes in the brain after antidepressant medication has been taken. Antidepressant medication helps in producing normal chemical absorption, thus increasing brain functioning and decreasing depression. How wonderful that the God of creation made the brain with the capacity to respond to appropriate medication in order to alleviate debilitating depression. The Bible says “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14)