The Great Depression Debate: Serotonin or Dopamine Deficiency?
The medical community has been studying depression for decades, and we're still learning about its causes and treatments. We now know that certain people are more likely than others to experience depression, and this risk is partly determined by genetics. There's evidence that confident lifestyle choices can increase your likelihood of depression, such as smoking cigarettes or using drugs. But what causes depression? Let's take a look at the current theories on this topic:
Depression is not caused by serotonin deficiency.
The idea that a serotonin deficiency causes depression dates back to the 1950s, when researchers first noted that people with depression had lower brain serotonin levels. Unfortunately, this conclusion wasn't based on rigorous scientific research—it was simply an observation. And it's not just this one finding: several studies have suggested that low levels of certain neurotransmitters are related to depression.
But as we've said before and will say again: correlation isn't causation! Low serotonin levels may be caused by something other than depression; perhaps they're even just a symptom of it (if so, why would you try to treat something like "depression" with antidepressants?).
So what causes depression? No one knows—and there's no reason they should be able to tell you why you feel depressed at any given moment. But don't let yourself get swept up in the hype surrounding these medications: if you want help with your mood swings or anxiety problems, see a doctor who can offer therapy instead!
Depression is not caused by dopamine deficiency.
For most people, dopamine deficiency is not a cause of depression.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter involved in the brain's reward system. If you have too little dopamine, it can lead to symptoms like:
low libido (sex drive)
poor sleep quality and quantity
poor memory and concentration
Most cases of depression are related to early childhood trauma.
Depression is not caused by a chemical imbalance but by biological and environmental factors.
When people think of depression, they often imagine a chemical imbalance within their brains causes it. The truth, however, is much more complicated than this, and scientists have yet to determine exactly what causes depression — but they do have some solid theories!
The most popular theory states that low serotonin or dopamine levels in your brain cause depression (this would be called serotonin deficiency or dopamine deficiency). SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants today because these drugs work to increase levels of either serotonin or both serotonin and norepinephrine in your brain. SSRIs can be addictive since they affect the same receptors as opioids as heroin; they also don't treat whatever caused you to become depressed in the first place, which means you could still experience symptoms even after taking them for years at a time without getting better!
Bipolar disorder includes symptoms of depression and mania.
Depression is a chemical imbalance, but not one caused by serotonin or dopamine. It's important to understand that depression isn't just "feeling sad"—it includes other symptoms like fatigue and difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
Bipolar disorder includes symptoms of depression and mania, which means you can feel very depressed at times (as well as manic). There are natural causes for bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses; doctors and psychiatrists don't know what causes them yet!
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in your brain that plays a vital role in mood regulation. Deficiencies in serotonin levels have been linked with mood disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders (such as PTSD), eating disorders (anorexia nervosa), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and sleep problems.* * Serotonin deficiency may also play a role in substance abuse problems*
A diagnosis of bipolar disorder leads to a prescription for lithium or antipsychotic medication.
Your doctor may diagnose you with bipolar disorder and prescribe lithium or antipsychotic medication. Lithium is a mood stabilizer that can effectively regulate the highs and lows of bipolar disorder, although it presents some risks: it can cause kidney damage and thyroid problems, among other side effects. Antipsychotic medications are often prescribed to treat symptoms of depression but are not effective in treating bipolar disorder.
Lithium can effectively treat bipolar disorder but at the expense of severe side effects.
Lithium is a very effective medication for bipolar disorder. However, it has some side effects that can be serious, including excessive thirst and urination, and weight gain. Lithium can also be addictive. As such, you may want to consider other medications if you experience the side effects of lithium treatment.
Antidepressants treat symptoms of depression but do not cure it.
Antidepressant medications are commonly prescribed to treat depression but do not cure it. The drugs increase the serotonin and dopamine in your brain. The chemicals are released into the synapses to stimulate them and boost mood. But these medications only treat the symptoms of depression, not its causes. In addition, antidepressants can have serious side effects—including suicidal thoughts and violent behaviors—which is why they're not recommended for people under age 24 without a mental health diagnosis or who have taken them before without success or when doctors feel that there are alternative options available (i.e., therapy).
The most popular antidepressants are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
The most popular antidepressants are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These drugs prevent the brain from reabsorbing serotonin, allowing it to stay in the synapses longer. Serotonin plays a vital role in mood control and has been linked with depression; therefore, these drugs are often prescribed for people who suffer from this mental health issue. SSRIs can also treat anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
However, there is some debate about whether or not SSRIs can treat depression by increasing serotonin levels. Some researchers believe that SSRI antidepressants work by increasing dopamine production instead—an idea that contradicts other studies showing that low levels of dopamine may contribute to depression without necessarily affecting serotonin levels.
SSRIs do not treat the cause of depression; they merely mask some symptoms.
For many people, SSRIs can be a godsend. However, you should know that they are ineffective for everyone, and severe side effects are possible. Additionally, it's essential to keep in mind that SSRIs don't treat the cause of depression; they mask some symptoms.
Considering these facts, it might make sense to try an alternative approach before resorting to medication. For example, acupuncture may have similar benefits with fewer side effects or none—and you won't get addicted or dependent on needles!
SSRIs can have serious side effects, and they're addictive.
SSRIs are addictive.
SSRIs can cause suicide.
SSRIs can cause sexual dysfunction.
SSRIs can cause weight gain.
SSRIs can cause insomnia.
SSRIs can cause congenital disabilities and other health problems in children if taken during pregnancy or breastfeeding by mothers who have taken the drug while pregnant or breastfeeding.
It would help if you tried something other than SSRIs before taking them.
If you're on SSRIs, you should stop taking them and try something else. These drugs can have serious side effects, and they're addictive; they also do not treat the cause of depression but merely mask some symptoms.
Instead, look into serotonin and dopamine deficiencies as potential causes of your depression. While many other factors play into your mental health (including diet, sleep habits, and exercise), these two chemicals may contribute to your feelings of sadness or anxiety. If this is the case for you—and if you want to eliminate antidepressant medications from your life—talk with a doctor about how best to address those deficiencies without resorting to chemical means.
I hope this article clarified some confusion about depression and its relationship with serotonin and dopamine. It's important to remember that antidepressants are not a cure-all for depression and can have serious side effects. You should try something other than SSRIs before taking them or if you're already on them, talk to your doctor about switching off these medications as soon as possible.