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Depression Caused by Dopamine Dysfunction by Michael Barks

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I’ll be honest; I used to not even believe in depression.  At one point in my life, I often didn’t believe in things that I didn’t understand.  A few years ago a friend of mine who suffered from depression took his own life.  A few years later I got in a new relationship with a girl that suffered from depression.  In the over two years that we have been together, the good days are really good and the bad days are really bad.  She has had to be hospitalized several times to treat her depression.  I myself, had to take here there twice.  Suddenly, I was a believer.  I decided to study depression, the causes, treatments, etc.  One of the main causes according to many doctors is dopamine dysfunction in the brain.

The human brain is made up of neurons that communicate with the brain with molecules called neurotransmitters.  They regulate the body’s actions and metabolic functions.  Dysfunction in any of these systems in the brain can cause depression.

Dopamine is one of the main neurotransmitters that aid the brain in experiencing different types and levels of pleasure and motivation, feelings of being rewarded, maintaining an acceptable level of focus, and finding pleasures in life.

On the other hand, exaggerated feelings of sadness, sudden increased or decreased changes in appetite, loss of interest in simple daily pleasurable activities, changes in sleep patterns, feelings of worthlessness, and thoughts of death, are all symptoms of depression.  Dopamine dysfunction has been associated with these symptoms.

Feelings of sadness, loss of interest in formerly pleasurable activities, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, feelings of worthlessness, and thoughts of death are all symptoms of a depressive disorder. Deficiency in dopamine function has been associated with these symptoms. Additionally, treatment with certain anti-depressant medications appears to improve the function of the dopamine neurotransmitter system. These findings suggest dopamine dysfunction may contribute to depression.  Dopamine dysfunction can be caused by several different things.  Cells that receive dopamine messages have proteins on their membranes called dopamine receptors.  Deficiency or dysfunction in the number of dopamine receptors disrupts dopamine’s ability to effectively communicate.  Dopamine that was secreted to send a message to another neuron must be broken down or removed from the fluid around the cell.  Dopamine function can also be disrupted if the cells that make the neurotransmitter aren’t working properly.

Depression, I assure you, is very real.  I’m sorry Tom Cruise, you are wrong.  What really concerns me are the people who suffer from this fatal disease who do not have health insurance.  If someone loses their job, and can’t afford Cobra insurance, they are forced to not take their medicine and to try and deal with it on their own.  Insurance companies refuse to treat preexisting conditions.  I honestly don’t know how some of these people sleep at night.  I really hope that this is something that will get better over time.  I have personally seen how fatal this disease is, and I can only pray that other families don’t have to go through what I went through because of this disease.

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