This work may not be copied, distributed, displayed, published, reproduced, transmitted, modified, posted, sold, licensed, or used for commercial purposes. By downloading this file, you are agreeing to the publisher’s Terms & Conditions.

Educational Activity

Neurobiology of Depression and Mechanism of Action of Depression Treatments

Pierre Blier, MD, PhD

Published: March 23, 2016

Article Abstract

Antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), may alleviate depressive symptoms but also leave residual symptoms. The mechanism of action of SSRIs increases serotonin (5-HT) activity but decreases norepinephrine (NE) and dopamine (DA) activity. By engaging additional targets (eg, NE, DA) along with 5-HT, clinicians may help patients with residual symptoms and treatment-resistant depression. Dual-acting agents and combination strategies can be used to target specific symptoms or block/activate specific receptors for broader therapeutic benefits. Clinicians who understand the mechanism of action of antidepressants can switch or combine agents as needed to help patients achieve complete remission.

This CME activity is expired. For more CME activities, visit
Find more articles on this and other psychiatry and CNS topics:
The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry
The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders


Related Articles

Volume: 77

Quick Links: