Psychiatric drugs for depression: Unexpected effects in antidepressants discovered
A side effect of many common antidepressants has so far been considered a side effect of the drugs. German scientists have now found that this side effect may even be responsible for one of the main effects. That could mean having discovered a new cause for the disease.
Four million suffer from depression According to the German Depression Aid Foundation, one in five Germans suffers from depression at least once in their lives. In total, there are currently around four million people in Germany who are suffering from depression that requires treatment. Scientists at the psychiatry at the University Hospital Erlangen have now found out from a test on mice that an accompanying effect of many common antidepressants could be one of the main effects.
Effect to get into a positive mood Doctors at the universities of Duisburg-Essen and Erlangen-Nuremberg have observed that many drugs for depression also reduce the content of the fat-like substance ceramide in nerve cells. "But exactly this effect seems to play a central role in order to get into a positive mood again," said the head of psychiatry at the University Hospital Erlangen, Johannes Kornhuber.
New cause of the disease discovered? When tested on mice, the researchers found that ceramide inhibits the formation of new nerve cells in a special area of the brain, the hippocampus. According to the information, new nerve cells can form if ceramide is reduced and the mood improves again. If these statements could be confirmed, a new cause for the disease would have been discovered. "Our assumption is that there is too much ceramide in depression." The formation of new nerve cells can also be prevented by stress.
No new drug in sight yet The next step is to transfer the therapy to people. However, it usually takes several years to get a new drug. The team led by Kornhuber and Erich Gulbins (University of Duisburg-Essen) published the results of their investigations in the journal "Nature Medicine" in June. (ad)
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