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Friday, July 29, 2011

Brain Building Blocks — Mystery Molecule

How does our brain chemistry affect our mental health? This series explains some of the science behind the medicine.

Take a guess, what is the molecule above?


  1. Sometimes I come from eating turkey or chocolate.

  3. In the brain, when plentiful I promote social affiliation, resiliency and the ability to adapt to situations.

  5. If excessive, from something like the drug ecstasy, I may cause patients to become very outgoing, or even promiscuous.

  7. If through genetics, stress, or trauma I become less available or depleted in the brain, I may cause symptoms of sadness, despair, guilt, worthlessness or suicidal thoughts.

  9. A majority of FDA approved antidepressants cause the brain to increase my concentration and availability. After a few weeks of this, these depression symptoms may be reversed in some patients.

Who Am I? Serotonin

Depression is a collection of symptoms: poor sleep, low mood, loss of interest, guilt and worthlessness feelings, fatigue, poor concentration, appetite change, restlessness or feeling in slow motion, suicidal thoughts. To be diagnosed with depression, you must have low mood and at least 5 total of these symptoms. Some psychiatrists feel that patients with certain symptoms may be low on certain transmitters. If patients have the symptoms noted in (4) above, we may want to choose a medication that increases serotonin,our molecule of the week.

Posted by: Thomas L. Schwartz, MD at 9:21 am