The Pharmacology of Despair

Serotonin is e-mail for the brain. This one little chemical seems to be the key to the lousy mental state of a billion people whose neurons just can’t communicate efficiently. One way or another it is the target of just about every antidepressant drug on the market, and quite likely of psychotherapy as well. Google “serotonin” with “depression,” and you will find hundreds of thousands of hits. Search with the same two words on the academic search engine PubMed, and you will be led to more than 12,000 scholarly articles. This is a pretty good indication that the two are linked, but also that we really don’t understand how.

It is all so very complicated. Serotonin does many different things with many different partners, ...

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