Health Watch - Depression: Nerve Cells

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This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about research into treating depression. Part of depression research involves learning exactly how medications to treat depression work. Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found that in order for antidepressants to work, the brain has to create new nerve cells.

Dr. Luis Parada, UT Southwestern’s chairman of developmental biology, says these findings may provide new directions for developing drugs to treat depression. In studies on mice, scientists found that drugs and exercise both work in the same way to reduce depression. Scientists already knew that both exercise and medications cause new nerve cells to form. But if the new nerve cells don’t form, neither exercise nor medication stops the symptoms of depression. It can take weeks for new nerve cells to grow, so medication may not take effect immediately. Dr. Parada says it’s possible that finding a way to stimulate nerve cell growth could make medication more effective.

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UT Southwestern’s clinical services in mental health.


July 2009

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