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Serotonin is one of several chemical messengers in the brain, or neurotransmitters, which help brain cells communicate with one another. Among many other functions, serotonin is involved in regulating mood. Problems with making or using the right amount of serotonin have been linked to many mental disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, autism, and schizophrenia.

There are many genes that code for serotonin. Some of these genes guide serotonin production and other are involved in its activity. The serotonin transporter gene makes a protein that directs serotonin from the space between brain cells — where most neurotransmitters are relayed from one cell to another — back into cells, where it can be reused. Since the most widely prescribed class of medications for treating major depression acts by blocking this transporter protein, the gene has been a prime suspect in mood and anxiety disorders.

The serotonin transporter gene has many versions. Since everyone inherits a copy of this gene from each parent, a person may have two copies of the same version or one copy each of two different versions. One version of the serotonin transporter gene makes less protein, resulting in decreased transport of serotonin back into cells. This version has also long been the focus of depression research due to its suggested effect on risk.
Depressive symptoms may affect fertility of women

Depressive symptoms may affect fertility of women

Women with severe depressive symptoms have a decreased chance of becoming pregnant, while the use of psychotropic medications does not appear to harm fertility, a study by researchers from the Boston University Schools of Public Health and Medicine shows. [More]
Understanding potential of illicit drug ketamine in treating depression

Understanding potential of illicit drug ketamine in treating depression

Advancing the understanding and treatment of psychiatric disorders is a principal goal of neuroscientists. As mental disorders are the leading cause of disabilities worldwide, it is concerning that there are few effective therapeutics on the market due to the lack of knowledge regarding pathophysiology. [More]
Prenatal exposure to SSRIs linked to lower birth weight, gestational length

Prenatal exposure to SSRIs linked to lower birth weight, gestational length

A new study, published today in the International Journal of Epidemiology, has found that prenatal exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) has a significant association with lower birth weight and gestational length. [More]
Magic mushroom compound may offer potential new way for antidepressant research

Magic mushroom compound may offer potential new way for antidepressant research

Psilocybin – a hallucinogenic compound derived from magic mushrooms – may offer a possible new avenue for antidepressant research, according to a new study published in The Lancet Psychiatry today. [More]
New study finds link between prenatal SSRI use and umbilical cord length

New study finds link between prenatal SSRI use and umbilical cord length

Umbilical cords of children whose mothers used selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors during pregnancy may be longer than umbilical cords of other newborn children, shows a new study from the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, SSRIs, are commonly prescribed antidepressants, and this is the first time their association with umbilical cord length was observed. [More]
Changes in the brain make people prone to alcoholism

Changes in the brain make people prone to alcoholism

The brain tissue of persons with alcohol dependence shows a variety of changes compared to non-alcoholic control persons. All alcoholics' brains share some characteristics, but some are exclusive to the brain tissue of anxiety-prone type 1 alcoholics or impulsive type 2 alcoholics, according to a recent study from the University of Eastern Finland. [More]
Exposure to SSRI during gestation increases chances of adolescent offspring depression

Exposure to SSRI during gestation increases chances of adolescent offspring depression

A study to be published in the May 2016 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP) reports that use of certain antidepressants during pregnancy can result in offspring depression by early adolescence. [More]
Certain genetic markers linked with depression can also predict who may benefit from exercise

Certain genetic markers linked with depression can also predict who may benefit from exercise

Call it personalized medicine for depression -- but the prescription in this case is exercise, which University of Florida Health researchers have found helps people with certain genetic traits. [More]
Nutritional supplements can enhance effectiveness of antidepressants

Nutritional supplements can enhance effectiveness of antidepressants

An international evidence review has found that certain nutritional supplements can increase the effectiveness of antidepressants for people with clinical depression. [More]
Light-sensitive serotonin receptors may help study causes of anxiety, depression

Light-sensitive serotonin receptors may help study causes of anxiety, depression

Anxiety and depression are two of the most frequently occurring mental disorders worldwide. Light-activated nerve cells may indicate how they are formed. [More]
Same genetic changes responsible for gastrointestinal problems in children with autism

Same genetic changes responsible for gastrointestinal problems in children with autism

Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center have found evidence in mice that, for some types of autism, gastrointestinal difficulties may originate from the same genetic changes that lead to the behavioral and social characteristics of the condition. The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. [More]
Psilocybin administration reduces reaction to social rejection in associated brain areas

Psilocybin administration reduces reaction to social rejection in associated brain areas

Social ties are vital for mental and physical health. However, psychiatric patients in particular frequently encounter social exclusion and rejection. Furthermore, psychiatric patients often react more strongly to social rejection than healthy persons and this can have negative consequences for the development and treatment of psychiatric disorders. [More]
Researchers examine neuropsychological effect in ecstasy users

Researchers examine neuropsychological effect in ecstasy users

Researchers from the University of Liverpool have conducted a study examining the effect ecstasy has on different parts of the brain. [More]
PTSD patients carry long-term burden even with early clinical interventions

PTSD patients carry long-term burden even with early clinical interventions

The majority of people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) recover after early treatment -- but a substantial number still suffer for years after a traumatic event even with early clinical interventions, according to a study publishing online April 12, 2016 in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. [More]
Long-term medication use reduces risk of relapse and improves symptoms in BDD patients

Long-term medication use reduces risk of relapse and improves symptoms in BDD patients

People with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) fare better and are less likely to relapse when treated with medication on a long-term basis, according to researchers at Rhode Island Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital. [More]
FDA announces required class-wide safety labeling changes for IR opioid pain medications

FDA announces required class-wide safety labeling changes for IR opioid pain medications

In a continuing effort to educate prescribers and patients about the potential risks related to opioid use, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced required class-wide safety labeling changes for immediate-release (IR) opioid pain medications. Among the changes, the FDA is requiring a new boxed warning about the serious risks of misuse, abuse, addiction, overdose and death. [More]
Study reveals direct regulatory role of serotonin in rheumatoid arthritis

Study reveals direct regulatory role of serotonin in rheumatoid arthritis

For the first time, serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) has been directly implicated in the pathophysiology of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Although 5-HT is predominantly known as a neurotransmitter within the central nervous system, new evidence points to additional important functions for serotonin in the periphery. [More]
New study assesses link between depression, anxiety and antidepressants and outcome of IVF

New study assesses link between depression, anxiety and antidepressants and outcome of IVF

Depression and anxiety, and not necessarily the use of antidepressant medication, are associated with lower pregnancy and live birth rates following in vitro fertilisation, according to a large register study from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. The findings are published in the journal Fertility & Sterility and can be of interest to clinicians treating infertility and for women with depression or anxiety planning to undergo fertility treatment. [More]
Antidepressant initiation more frequent among people with Alzheimer's disease even before diagnosis

Antidepressant initiation more frequent among people with Alzheimer's disease even before diagnosis

Antidepressants are frequently initiated in persons with Alzheimer's disease already before the diagnosis, shows a recent study from the University of Eastern Finland. Among persons with Alzheimer's disease, the initiation of antidepressant use was most common during the six months after the Alzheimer's diagnosis, and more frequent than among comparison persons without Alzheimer's disease even 4 years after the diagnosis. The results were published in International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. [More]
CAMH, Impel NeuroPharma partner to advance novel treatment to alleviate depression

CAMH, Impel NeuroPharma partner to advance novel treatment to alleviate depression

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and Impel NeuroPharma have signed a licensing agreement to advance a new neuropeptide-based therapeutic approach shown to be effective in treating depression. [More]
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