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Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2002 Mar;4(1):7-20.

Pathophysiology of depression and mechanisms of treatment.

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Psychiatric Clinic of University Munich, Department of Neurochemistry, Munich, Germany.


Major depression is a serious disorder of enormous sociological and clinical relevance. The discovery of antidepressant drugs in the 1950s led to the first biochemical hypothesis of depression, which suggested that an impairment in central monoaminergic function was the major lesion underlying the disorder. Basic research in all fields of neuroscience (including genetics) and the discovery of new antidepressant drugs have revolutionized our understanding of the mechanisms underlying depression and drug action. There is no doubt that the monoaminergic system is one of the cornerstones of these mechanisms, but multiple interactions with other brain systems and the regulation of central nervous system function must also be taken into account In spite of all the progress achieved so far, we must be aware that many open questions remain to be resolved in the future.


depression; genetics; monoamine; neurobiology; norepinephrine; serotonin; treatment


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