Dopamine and depression

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Summary

The dopamine hypothesis of schizophrenia and the emphasis on other neurotransmitters, most notably norepinephirne, serotonin, and acetylcholine, in the pathogenesis of depression, have focused attention away from substantial evidence implicating dopamine in affective disorders. The clinical evidence includes alterations in depressive symptoms with aging (concomitant with possible changes in dopamine metabolism), potential dopaminergic involvement in several subtypes of depression, similarities between some of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease and those of depression (including psychomotor retardation and diminished motivation), and potential dopaminergic abnormalities in seasonal mood disorder. The biochemical evidence in patients with deprission derives from studies of homovanillic acid, a dopamine metabolite, indicating diminished dopamine turnover. In addition, there is a considerable amount of pharmacologic evidence regarding the efficacy of antidepressants with dopaminergic effects in the treatment of depression. We conclude that dopamine likely contributes significantly to the pathophysiology of depression. However, the role of dopamine in this syndrome must be understood in the context of existing theories involving other neurotransmitters which may act independently, and interact with dopamine and other neurochemicals, to contribute to depression.