Depression changes the brain. Imaging studies have reported thinning of the cortex, while structures such as the hippocampus show a loss of gray matter possibly associated with the loss of neurons and fewer neuronal connections. In mice, stress shrinks the hippocampus due to neuronal loss and smaller neurons and antidepressants increase the hippocampus back to pre-stress or to normal size and numbers of neurons increase. Our lab finds similar effects in comparing treated and untreated depression and seeks new targets for antidepressants. We need to better understand how antidepressants including SSRIs, lithium, and ketamine exert their therapeutic effects, so we can find newer more effective and rapidly acting treatments for depression.
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