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Video:Links Between Brain Chemistry and Depression

with Dr. Mike Abrams

Brain chemistry plays a big role in depression. This About.com video will explain the link between depression and brain chemistry.See Transcript

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Transcript:Links Between Brain Chemistry and Depression

Hi, I'm Dr. Mike Abrams, a clinical psychologist in New York and New Jersey and a psychology professor at New York University. I'm here for About.com to discuss the role brain chemistry plays in depression.  

Half a millennia ago, philosopher Rene Descartes suggested that the mind and the body were distinct entities. We now know that every thought, feeling, and action originates in the brain.  

How the Brain Controls Mood

The brain has around 100 billion neurons or nerve cells and hundreds of billions of glial cells that support the functioning of the neurons. All moods from happy to sad and from hopefulness to despair can always be linked to the way clusters of nerve cells interact with each other. Certain clusters of nerve cells communicate using unique chemicals called neurotransmitters, and the availability of these neurotransmitters can have marked effects on our moods.  

Brain Chemicals Affecting Mood

Serotonin is involved in regulating our moods. Dopamine and nonadrenaline in areas of the brain mediate the feelings of reward, well-being, and motivation. It follows that depletion of these natural, stimulating brain chemicals in the relevant regions of the brain can contribute to melancholy, pessimism, and lethargy, which are key components of depression.  

Connecting Depression and Brain Chemistry

In certain respects, depression is a result of low levels of specific neurotransmitters in areas of the brain that control emotions. Importantly, both changing ones thinking style and antidepressants can alter the level of brain chemicals to improve depression. For example, a person who persistently expects the worst of himself, others in his life, and the world itself, will actually lower the brain transmitters necessary for a positive mood. Often, cognitive therapies that help people think differently are as effective as antidepressant drugs.

That was a little information about brain chemistry and depression. To learn more, please visit About.com. Thanks for watching.

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