For many years, a deficiency of monoamines including serotonin has been the prevailing hypothesis on depression, yet research has failed to confirm consistent relations between brain serotonin and depression. High degrees of overlapping comorbidities and common drug efficacies suggest that depression is one of a family of related conditions sometimes referred to as the "affective spectrum disorders", and variably including migraine, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and generalized anxiety disorder, among many others. Herein, we present data from many different experimental modalities that strongly suggest components of mitochondrial dysfunction and inflammation in the pathogenesis of depression and other affective spectrum disorders. The three concepts of monoamines, energy metabolism and inflammatory pathways are inter-related in many complex manners. For example, the major categories of drugs used to treat depression have been demonstrated to exert effects on mitochondria and inflammation, as well as on monoamines. Furthermore, commonly-used mitochondrial-targeted treatments exert effects on mitochondria and inflammation, and are increasingly being shown to demonstrate efficacy in the affective spectrum disorders. We propose that interactions among monoamines, mitochondrial dysfunction and inflammation can inspire explanatory, rather than mere descriptive, models of these disorders.
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