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Depression Scar

April 5, 2006

The use of antidepressants has skyrocketed in the past two decades. But are they really curing depression, or simply masking it?


How depression leaves its mark. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Depression can often be treated, but it’s very hard to cure. A recent study in mice may suggest why. It was led by psychiatrist Eric Nestler of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. His team found that when small mice were repeatedly bullied by larger mice, they lost interest in food, sex, and socializing, like depressed people. Their brains also shut down production of a key protein in the hippocampus – a part of the brain involved in human depression. Antidepressants temporarily counteracted the problem, but didn’t fix the underlying cause.

ERIC NESTLER (University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center):
This could well be one mechanism of why people on antidepressants have to remain on their medication, oftentimes for years and sometimes for a lifetime.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.