Introduction: The Science Behind Depression

  1. Neurotransmitters
  2. Genetics
  3. Limbic System


  1. The cell body is what directs all the activity within the neuron
  2. The dendrites receive information from other neurons
  3. The axon is was transmits messages from the cell body of its neuron to the dendrites of other neurons or other body tissues, such as muscles.
  4. The myelin is a protective covering that covers most of the neurons and helps nerve signals travel much faster and farther.
  • Acetylcholine enhances memory and is involved in learning and recall.
  • Serotonin helps regulate sleep, appetite, and mood and inhibits pain. Some depressed people have reduced serotonin transmission. Low levels of serotonin can trigger a drop in norepinephrine levels, which then leads to depression.
  • Norepinephrine constricts blood vessels, raising blood pressure. This may trigger anxiety and be involved in some types of depression. It also seems to help determine motivation and reward.
  • Dopamine is essential to movement. It also influences motivation and plays a role in how a person perceives reality. Problems in dopamine transmission have been associated with psychosis, a severe form of distorted thinking characterized by hallucinations or delusions. It’s also involved in the brain’s reward system, so it is thought to play a role in substance abuse.
  • Glutamate is a small molecule believed to act as an excitatory neurotransmitter and to play a role in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Lithium carbonate, a well-known mood stabilizer used to treat bipolar disorder, helps prevent damage to neurons in the brains of rats exposed to high levels of glutamate. Other animal research suggests that lithium might stabilize glutamate reuptake, a mechanism that may explain how the drug smooths out the highs of mania and the lows of depression in the long term.
  • Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is an amino acid that researchers believe acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter. It’s known to help remove anxiety.


Chromosome 3p25–26 (Jermey)

Genetic Variant 5-HHTLPR (Kendall)

inside the red circle is the synaptic cleft

Gaps + Next Steps

The Limbic System







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Nyla Pirani

Nyla Pirani

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