The Biology of Depression

Essay by theptrkHigh School, 10th gradeB+, April 2004

download word file, 2 pages 4.8

Depression is a mood disorder or mental illness in which a person experiences a constant depressed mood and diminished interests or pleasure. Symptoms may also include insomnia, weight loss or gain and indecisiveness or loss of ability to concentrate. Everybody faces a depressed mood but clinical depression is a re-occurring disease including multiple episodes, lasting at least two weeks. Many people believe depression is more of a character flaw more then a medical illness but it's rarely known that it'san illness that faces 17% of people.

The biological causes of depression play a key factor in the development of the illness. Depression can be passed down genetically as it runs through families. Studies have proven that fraternal twins have a lesser chance of being diagnosed with depression then genetic twins. There are also environmental factors such as a stressful experience that can trigger the illness. This includes the loss of a loved one, unemployment, an unexpected medical illness, divorce and even childbirth.

Brain chemicals called neurotransmitters and hormones have been linked to important roles in regulating moods and emotions. Some of the neurotransmitters involved in the development of depression are serotonin, which transmits messages across synapses, dopamine which is associated with emotion based behaviors, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and norepinephrine. Early research suggested that depression is caused by the excess or lack of these neurotransmitters. Anti-depressant drugs, therefore provided balance in the levels of neurotransmitters involved in depression. Among the anti-depressant drugs, those that develop monoamine oxidase inhibitors were the first class of anti-depressants. Monoamine is a chemical in the brain circuits. Those that took medication that would deplete monoamines, were found to be depressed but those that took medication that assisted monoamines to avoid degradation by breakdown from enzymes had a more elevated mood.

Two of the most common...