New research published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research investigates a potentially neuroprotective role of escitalopram, a common antidepressant drug.

Serotonin, a neurotransmitter derived from tryptophan, plays a myriad of roles in the human body. This chemical, or, to be precise, pathways involving serotonin, have been implicated in depression since the 1960s.

The so-called serotonin theory has been the leading explanation of depression’s etiology for many years. This excerpt comes from a landmark paper published in The Lancet in 1969. In other words, the molecular building block of serotonin – tryptophan – is in lower quantities, leading to a decrease in serotonin production. The reduction in serotonin leads to a reduction in mood.

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