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A review of the biogenic amine hypothesis of depression and related research concerning the diagnosis and pharmacological treatment of depression

24 July 1987


This dissertation reviews the psychiatric, psychopharmacological, and neurophysiological research stimulated by the biogenic amine hypothesis of depression, which advances the view that the biological signs and psychological symptoms of major depression are associated with the depletion of central nervous system neurotransmitters. Recent research on potential biological markers, endocrine functioning, and the mechanisms of neural regulation in major depressive illness is examined, including research on neurotransmitter metabolites; sleep disturbances; stress; secretion of cortisol, growth hormone and thyrotropin-releasing hormone; and activity of specific neuronal receptor binding sites. The review concludes that there is no current hypothesis or model capable of integrating the precise biochemical and neurophysiological data emerging from numerous research domains. Further, the review suggests that a multiple-system homeostatic-dysregulation viewpoint, integrating the contributions of neuronal structure, biochemistry and functional neuronal regulatory dynamics, is necessary to a full understanding of the biology of major depression.


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