What if parts of your brain actually had “feelings” of their own? Well according to new research, your neurons can “get the blues” just like you.

Individuals who suffer with depression are provided with a variety of treatments to help, like serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are antidepressants. But “around a third of people with major depression disorder” don’t feel a difference with these drugs; this is due to their neurons being hyperactive when the drug is introduced (“When neurons,” 2019).

The drug itself is meant to flood the brain with more serotonin, a neurotransmitter that boosts mood – with this knowledge in mind, researchers studied a group of over 800 individuals who used SSRI and selected three patients that felt benefits from the drugs, and three that felt no improvement after taking it for 8 weeks. The participants’ skin cells were then extracted and reprogrammed into induced pluriopotent stem cells, and then into neurons (“When neurons,” 2019).

“What’s exciting is that we could look directly at human cells, neurons that are not usually accessible in living patients…we can finally tap into the potential of looking at neurons from individuals whose medication histories, genetics and response profiles we know,” stated Krishna Vadodaria, the first author of the study. After conducting their experiment, it was found that two particular receptors of serotonin were hyperactive, which prevented proper dispersal of serotonin – when using a chemical compound to block these two receptors, the hyperactivity was no longer present (“When neurons,” 2019).

“I hope this opens the door to many more studies of individuals who are in extreme cases in terms of how they respond to treatments…in turn that will help us understand major depression in the broader population,”  stated Vadodaria (“When neurons,” 2019).

Reference: Salk Institute. (2019, January 31). When neurons get the blues: Hyperactive brain cells may be to blame when antidepressants don’t work. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 10, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190131162500.htm