Depression and the Brain’s Chemical Balance - Fairview Health Services
 
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Depression and the Brain’s Chemical Balance

Everyone feels sad from time to time. But depression is much more serious than just feeling down. Depression is a real illness, just like diabetes or heart disease. It results from chemical changes in the brain. 

Brain Chemicals and Depression

The brain is a complex organ. It controls all the workings of your body, including your emotions. It does this by using messages that travel from one nerve cell to another. Brain messages travel with help from chemicals. These are called neurotransmitters. No one knows exactly what happens in the brain to cause depression. But we do know that neurotransmitters are involved.

Changes in the Brain

Two neurotransmitters are the main ones involved in depression. These are norepinephrine and serotonin. Changes in the levels of these chemicals in the brain can cause an increase in unhappy thoughts and feelings. Negative thoughts and feelings can then cause further changes in brain chemicals. This cycle continues as the problem spirals into depression. Antidepressant medications and talk therapy (the main treatments for depression) both help stop this cycle and restore brain chemicals to their proper levels.

 

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