Chemicals in brain that cause depression

SAMHSA’s National Helpline | SAMHSA

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  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

    Also visit the online treatment locator.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service), or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.

Also visit the online treatment locator, or send your zip code via text message: 435748 (HELP4U) to find help near you. Read more about the HELP4U text messaging service.

The service is open 24/7, 365 days a year.

English and Spanish are available if you select the option to speak with a national representative. Currently, the 435748 (HELP4U) text messaging service is only available in English.

In 2020, the Helpline received 833,598 calls. This is a 27 percent increase from 2019, when the Helpline received a total of 656,953 calls for the year.

The referral service is free of charge. If you have no insurance or are underinsured, we will refer you to your state office, which is responsible for state-funded treatment programs. In addition, we can often refer you to facilities that charge on a sliding fee scale or accept Medicare or Medicaid. If you have health insurance, you are encouraged to contact your insurer for a list of participating health care providers and facilities.

The service is confidential. We will not ask you for any personal information. We may ask for your zip code or other pertinent geographic information in order to track calls being routed to other offices or to accurately identify the local resources appropriate to your needs.

No, we do not provide counseling. Trained information specialists answer calls, transfer callers to state services or other appropriate intake centers in their states, and connect them with local assistance and support.

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    It's Not Your Fault (NACoA) (PDF | 12 KB)
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Last Updated: 08/30/2022

SAMHSA Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator


Welcome to the Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator, a confidential and anonymous source of information for persons seeking treatment facilities in the United States or U.S. Territories for substance use/addiction and/or mental health problems.

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The Locator is authorized by the 21st Century Cures Act (Public Law 114-255, Section 9006; 42 U.S.C. 290bb-36d). SAMHSA endeavors to keep the Locator current. All information in the Locator is updated annually from facility responses to SAMHSA’s National Substance Use and Mental Health Services Survey (N-SUMHSS). New facilities that have completed an abbreviated survey and met all the qualifications are added monthly. Updates to facility names, addresses, telephone numbers, and services are made weekly for facilities informing SAMHSA of changes. Facilities may request additions or changes to their information by sending an e-mail to [email protected], by calling the BHSIS Project Office at 1-833-888-1553 (Mon-Fri 8-6 ET), or by electronic form submission using the Locator online application form (intended for additions of new facilities).


This diagnosis is often misdiagnosed. Depression is a disease that has many causes and about which we still do not know much.

Sadness, dark thoughts, low self-esteem, loss of interest or inability to enjoy... Depression is not just a blues, but a real illness. It affects all aspects of daily life and is accompanied by an increased risk of suicide. It can lead to the formation of various addictions, as well as heart disease, diabetes or sexual disorders.

Many factors are involved in the development of depression. Vulnerability factors are at the basis, for example, if a person was a victim of abuse in childhood. The development of depression is usually preceded by the impact of so-called trigger factors. They can be a breakup in a relationship, the death of a loved one, or financial problems.

Apparently, genetic factors also play a certain role, which makes it possible to speak of hereditary predisposition. Chronic illness, smoking, dependence on alcohol or other psychoactive substances, and even an unbalanced diet can also increase the risk of depression.

322 million

people living with depression in 2017 1

+ 18.4% 2

Less than half of people with depression receive antidepressant medication. 3



In people with depression, the biochemical processes occurring in the brain are disturbed. This disorder can manifest itself as a deficiency or imbalance in the content of one or more types of neurotransmitters - molecules that are released from the terminal part of the neuron (at the synapse) and act as carriers of chemical signals in the brain. Depression disrupts the balance of three neurotransmitters: serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. They are involved in the regulation of mood and behavior, and their function can be restored with the help of antidepressants.


According to guidelines issued by the World Health Organization and republished by the French health authority (Haute Autorité de Santé) in October 2017, “an episode of depression is characterized by the presence of at least two of the following three main symptoms (see infographic) for two consecutive weeks with a certain degree of severity; they must be different from the patient's previous condition and cause significant distress."

Depressive episodes usually resolve after a few weeks or months with treatment or spontaneously. This state is called remission.

If subsequent episodes of depression do not recur, recovery is declared, but this rarely happens. In 50–80% of cases, a new episode occurs within the next 5 years. 6 Depression is considered chronic when certain symptoms persist, sometimes less severely, for at least 2 years.


Psychotherapy is recommended regardless of the severity of the depression.

Several types of psychotherapy are used, including supportive, cognitive-behavioral, and analytic-based psychotherapy, as well as psychotherapies based on individual, family, and group sessions.

Relatives and friends invariably play a special role in the treatment of the patient. The patient's expression of his suffering and his acceptance of help are of the utmost importance for successful treatment.

In addition to psychotherapy, the use of drugs, in particular antidepressants, is most often useful or even necessary.

Antidepressants are recommended for moderate to severe episodes of depression.

There are several classes of antidepressants. Most of them target nerve cells that release serotonin, norepinephrine, or dopamine. Their action is realized through various mechanisms through which the concentration of neurotransmitters increases or the nerve circuits damaged due to depression are restored.

The physician selects the antidepressant that is most appropriate for the patient, based on the patient's symptoms, medical history, past or current conditions and treatment. The effectiveness of antidepressants usually becomes noticeable only after a few weeks.


  • The acute phase (6 to 12 weeks) is needed to overcome the current episode of depression.
  • Consolidation phase (4 to 6 months) aims to reduce the risk of disease recurrence in the short term.
  • Maintenance phase: After three episodes of depression, treatment can be given for several years to prevent relapse.

In most cases, treatment is carried out on an outpatient basis (at the patient's home) under the regular supervision of a healthcare professional. However, sometimes a patient may require emergency care or an episode of depression may be resistant to traditional medications. In this case, hospitalization may be considered.


For over 30 years, Servier has provided medical solutions to people who suffer from depression. Recently, the attention of our group has been focused, in particular, on the development of a digital cognitive-behavioral approach.

It combines a cognitive approach, which focuses on correcting the thoughts that keep the patient in a state of emotional decline, and a behavioral approach, which focuses on correcting unacceptable behavior. The goal of therapy is for patients to adopt a new way of thinking and develop optimal behavior.


  1. Incorporate regular, moderate-intensity physical activity into your daily routine
    Exercise (walking, running, swimming, cycling) at the recommended frequency of 30-40 minutes 5 times a week.
  2. Eat a balanced diet
    A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, fish and seafood, vegetable oils and whole grains. This type of food is high in essential fatty acids, vitamin B12, selenium, zinc, and iron, a lack of which increases the risk of depression.
  3. Discuss your psychological problems without delay
    Talking to family, friends or a doctor can help prevent a relapse of depression. In addition, there are communities that provide the necessary assistance to those in need

(1) (2) (3) WHO Report: Depression and other common mental disorders 2017


(5) Léon C, Chan Chee C, du Roscoät E, the Baromètre santé 2017 survey group. La depression en France chez les 18-75 ans: résultats du Baromètre santé 2017. Bulletin épidémiologique hebdomadaire. 2018;(32-33):637-44

(6) Website of the French National Inserm Institute for Health and Medical Research, report on depression.

Chemistry of emotions (moods) | Clinic Expert

The term "depression" has firmly entered the lexicon. About the need to identify a dangerous condition in time, articles and even fiction books are written, films are made. Meanwhile, in the speech of people far from medicine, the word "depression" is still considered a synonym for bad mood. Moreover, it is often possible to meet accusations against patients.

The term "depression" has firmly entered the lexicon. About the need to identify a dangerous condition in time, articles and even fiction books are written, films are made. Meanwhile, in the speech of people far from medicine, the word "depression" is still considered a synonym for bad mood. Moreover, it is often possible to meet accusations against patients.

In this article we tried to understand why biochemical processes do not need justification, but require serious study.

Great Factory

Human emotions are complex and varied. But all of them are connected with biological processes, which are also complex and multifactorial. In order for a person to experience this or that feeling, nerve cells must transmit an electrochemical impulse through the synaptic space. Special intermediary substances are involved in the transfer of momentum. They are called neurotransmitters.

Dopamine levels increase
and when remembering
about the pleasure experienced

The range of “mediators” is wide. In this article, we mention only a few. As a rule, the endocrine system reproduces the necessary neurotransmitters on its own. The body is the most perfect of laboratories. It knows how many hormones the system needs, distinguishes stimuli, in response to which it is worth intensifying work.

The same substance can perform several functions. So, serotonin affects the regulation of vascular tone, coordinates labor activity, and also participates in the formation of emotions of satisfaction and pleasure.

Scientific research has long proved that thoughts and human health are very closely interconnected. Quote from the material “Thoughts and health: there is contact!”

Dopamine plays an equally important role in the formation of a sense of satisfaction. It affects the limbic system of the brain. Certain external stimuli (delicious food, praise from a significant person, winning a competition) cause an increase in dopamine production. As subsequent experiments showed, the level of dopamine also increases with the memory of the experienced pleasure. In addition to the feeling of pleasure, dopamine affects mental activity. If dopaminergic transmission is impeded, people notice slow thinking. Dopamine is also important for the formation of socially acceptable behavior.

Oxytocin is called
happiness hormone

Oxytocin is sometimes called the happiness hormone. It promotes feelings of affection and trust. Plays a role in the formation of sexual arousal. During childbirth in women, oxytocin levels rise sharply and remain high throughout the breastfeeding period.

However, different neurotransmitters influence feelings. And because the "hormones of happiness" are diverse. Endorphins play a huge role. This is a whole group of polypeptide compounds produced in neurons. They were first discovered in 1975 year. These substances help the body adapt to stress, reduce pain, reduce stress.

Neurotransmitters act in a complex. An increase in the level of endorphins becomes a consequence of the release of adrenaline. Therefore, it is not always easy to study the action of a single hormone.

Is it really possible to "train" the brain? Find out in the material “TO for the brain. When to start?

It should also be noted that the level of “happiness hormones” increases not only during joyful events. A hormonal surge can occur with injuries, burns: this is how the body tries to resist pain.

Sudden failure

Any system can fail. Especially in such a complex, exposed to many internal and external factors. Therefore, in some people there is a violation of the production or functioning of neurotransmitters.

The reasons for such violations are various. Often, insufficient production of certain hormones is a hereditary trait. Heavy physical activity, stress, exhaustion can also cause disruptions. Chemical addictions (alcoholism, tobacco smoking, drug addiction) almost always lead to a decrease in the number of dopamine receptors. The same effect is noted in people with gambling addiction. You can list many more factors, some of which depend on human behavior directly, some indirectly, and most do not depend at all.

People with depression
help is usually available

A period of particular risk has been identified: people often experience depression for the first time during a period of serious hormonal changes - puberty, pregnancy, the postpartum period, the extinction of reproductive functions. However, the disease can manifest at any time.

The reward did not bring happiness. During the internship, Plath showed the first signs of depression. Quote from the material "Life under a glass jar"

In any case, it is important to remember that disturbances in the functioning of neurotransmitters are a multifactorial phenomenon. Blaming a sick person for “unjustified emotions” is the same as blaming a person for a tumor or an allergic reaction.

Fortunately, people with depression can usually be helped.

A long road to salvation

With the study of neurotransmitters and specific receptors, doctors have learned how to create drugs. There are several classes of antidepressants. Only a specialist can determine which drug is suitable for a particular patient. In the first days after the appointment, the person's condition is monitored especially carefully, and the regimen of admission can be adjusted. Many are lucky: the prescribed drug is suitable immediately. But for some, the medicine and the change of reception are determined for a long time. In any case, you should not despair. Science does not stand still.

People with depression
can help

Can a healthy person become happier by artificially increasing the level of happy hormones? There is an optimal level of neurotransmitters, deviations from which do not bode well. Many antidepressants simply do not cause mood changes in a non-depressed person. Others may cause side effects.

Excessive levels of serotonin threaten the development of serotonin syndrome. This is a rare but extremely dangerous condition.

Learn more