Natural Remedies: Antidepressants and How They Work

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PHOTO: FOTOLIA/LISTERCZ
Antidepressants and depression.

The Natural Remedies column shares information on antipressants and how they work.

Learn about antidepressants and how they work. Antidepressants are drugs designed to block or reduce the
symptoms of depression and anxiety. Most all affect the
levels of one or more neurotransmitters, or chemical
messengers, in the brain-including serotonin, dopamine and
norepinephrine. Low levels of these chemicals have been
linked to depressive disorders.

Among the more commonly used antidepressants are monoamine
oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Neurotransmitters relay
messages from one nerve cell to the next; their job
complete, they are either reabsorbed by nerve cells or
broken down by an enzyme called monoamine oxidase. MAOIs,
as their name suggests, block the action of monoamine
oxidase, thereby boosting the levels of serotonin and other
neurotransmitters in the brain.

Another newer and increasingly prescribed class of
antidepressants are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
(SSRI). SSRIs (including Paxil, Zoloft and Prozac) work by
blocking the reuptake by nerve cells of serotonin released
in the brain.