One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Depression

Recently at UNC (University of North Carolina), the interest in research on depression and the side effects of an antidepressant has piqued. Because of the fact that many people often do suffer from the potentially fatal side effects of an antidepressant, researchers such as Thomas Kash (pictured below), Catherine Marcinkiewicz, et. al. tracked the pathway in the brain that may be responsible for the side effects that are sometimes caused by taking an antidepressant during the first few weeks (Derewicz, 2016). The specific pathway that was tracked was tracked through the use of chemogenetic (engineering to interact with unrecognized molecules) tools, optogenetic (light source) tools, and lab mice.

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Thomas Kash, lead researcher. (Lang, 2011)

These researchers administered a small shock to the paws of the mice in order to evoke feelings of fear and anxiety within the brains of the mice, activating serotonin-producing neurons. Because these neurons in the brain were activated, it helped the researchers to see where the serotonin in an antidepressant goes when it enters the brain. This research is highly significant not only for people who might suffer with worsening anxiety and depression, but it also helps to understand the brains of most mammals when fear and anxiety is induced in them.

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