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Understanding the action of serotonin to help develop new treatments

5 September 2017 13:59

According to a new study published in Psychopharmacology, a better understanding of the serotonin in the brain will lead to changes in psychiatric therapy.

Serotonin - a neurotransmitter that helps the brain cells to "communicate" with each other, playing an important role in stabilizing mood and regulation of stress. Modern models of serotonin functions explanations remain incomplete. Researchers at Imperial College London believe that the updated model will help in the treatment of a number of psychiatric conditions, including depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and addiction.

Antidepressants and antipsychotics interact with serotonin receptors, and two of them are considered to be especially important - serotonin receptor 1A and 2A.

Patients with depression prescribe SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), which help to relieve the symptoms, increasing the level of serotonin in the brain. Evidence suggests that an important part of their job is to increase the activity of the serotonin 1A receptor, which regulates the activity of the brain, helping people to cope with depressed mood.

Conversely, psychedelic agents such as LSD and psilocybin ( "magic mushrooms") act primarily on serotonin 2A receptor. Data suggest that hallucinogenic drugs can be effective in the treatment of certain mental disorders, and the authors try to explain why. Researchers believe that, although the traditional treatment is to block the activity of 1A and 2A, the therapeutic value of the activation of the 2A underestimated.

According to researchers, the path 1A and 2A - sided approach that evolved to help the individual adapt to stress. By running 1A serotonin helps the body better stravlyatsya with a stressful situation. However, this approach is not always sufficient, and in extreme conditions 2A can change attitudes and behavior.

Data show that in depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and addiction specific brain circuits can become resistant to change. The researchers suggest that in such cases, activation of the 2A (for example, through hallucinogens) can break the cycle, helping patients change the negative behavior and habitual way of thinking.

According to the authors, an updated model of the action of serotonin in the brain lead to new methods of psychiatric care by a radical change in behavior and thinking.

According to Professor David Nutt, a new understanding of the role of serotonin and its receptors in recovery from depression will help to develop new treatments. As an added Professor Carhart-Harris, in psychiatry as a science is rarely something is black and white. The approach, which offer scientists, is to take into account a more complex model of mental health, combining drugs and psychotherapy.



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