One main characteristic of the clinical depression is anhedonia, the complete lack of pleasure in things and activities which used to be rewarding. New research done on rats has now uncovered an essential biological factor that contributes to this state. (New Depression Mechanism)
Researchers have found this new ‘key player’ in depression, and the discovery could start to therapies for some other conditions too.
New Depression Mechanism
The World Health Organization (WHO) says that across the world, there are more than 300 million people of all ages are living with depression. Furthermore, the WHO adds, this condition is also known as “the leading cause of disability worldwide.”
In the United States, only, more than 16 million adults have received an official diagnosis report of major depressive disorder, as per the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Living with depression can affect a person’s quality of life. In part, this is because of a primary trait of depression is anhedonia the inability to enjoy the experiences which used to offer a sense of pleasure, like eating good food, participating in hobbies, or having sexual intercourse.
Recognized, approved drugs are available for the treatment of the symptoms of depression, the most common of that are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or a short form is SSRIs.
Anyhow, SSRIs can take some extended time to start being useful, and many of the people with depression do not experience any improvements after taking these types of antidepressants. (New Depression Mechanism)
Now, a team of researchers from the Department of Human Physiology at the University of Malaga Faculty of Medicine in Spain has found a new mechanism that seems to contribute to the sign to anhedonia.
The results of this research, which the investigators operate in rats, appear in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. The writer believes that their findings may, near in the future, lead to the new therapies for depression.
In the latest research, the researchers focused on the role of a neuronal signaling molecule (a neuropeptide) called galanin plays in regulating the patient’s emotion.
According to the previous animal studies, the researcher’s team notes in the study paper, galanin contributes to the mechanisms relating to the anxiety, as well as to the depression-inducing devices.
For the new study, the researchers wanted to find out whether the galanin also plays a role in facilitating anhedonia. More correctly, they focused on a particular fragment of the galanin: GAL (1-15).
What challenges remain?
“We have verified through the different experiments how animals modify their response to the high-reinforcement appetitive stimuli, like saccharine or sexual attraction, after the administration of the galanin fragment,” explained by co-author Carmelo Mill?n.
The team found that the administering GAL (1-15) at a concentration of 3 nanomoles led to the animals developing the active behaviors and symptoms of the anhedonia. For example, they are no longer seemed to desire to appreciate saccharine or to mate, which they usually respond to nicely. (New Depression Mechanism)
The scientists identified that an association between these changes and alterations in the brain system which is responsible for releasing the dopamine, a hormone and neurotransmitter which is a key component in the reward response of the brain. This brain “program” stimulates the individuals to engage in behaviors which promote survival like eating & having sex.
GAL (1-15) seemed to reduce the activity of the reward circuit in the rats, rendering these animals very less responsive to normally tasty food and the promise of the mating.
While this may be a relatively minor detection, the scientists believe that if they gain a good enough understanding of how the galanin works in the brain, this could lead to new treatments not just for the depression but also for the addiction disorders. A malfunctioning reward the circuit also characterizes these conditions. (New Depression Mechanism)
Note: Depression Cure does not provide any type of medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.