Modifications of the serotonin system by antidepressant treatments: implications for the therapeutic response in major depression

J Clin Psychopharmacol. 1987 Dec;7(6 Suppl):24S-35S.


Results of electrophysiological single-cell recording studies suggest that most, if not all, types of antidepressant treatments increase 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) neurotransmission. Tricyclic antidepressants, electroconvulsive shock treatment, mianserin, adinazolam, and possibly sleep deprivation may exert their therapeutic effect through sensitization of postsynaptic neurons to 5-HT. Serotonin reuptake blockers may relieve depression through an increased efficacy of the presynaptic element resulting from a desensitization of somatodendritic and terminal 5-HT autoreceptors. Similarly, monoamine oxidase inhibitors may act by increasing the efficacy of 5-HT neurons. Intensification of 5-HT function appears to be a common denominator to antidepressant treatments; however, evidence suggests that this modification may only be a link in a chain of events leading to an antidepressant response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy
  • Depressive Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Serotonin / physiology*


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Serotonin