Understanding how your brain works is a good way to understand how depression medication impacts it.
The human brain is an intricate network of interconnected cells - all functioning in precisely the correct way to enable cognition, thought, emotion, breathing, sensation, motor skills, memory, and human life and behavior as we know it.
The brain sends and receives chemical and electrical messages from the body and within the brain itself to enable all our functional needs. Different types of signals may control different processes in the body, and your brain interprets each signal for an appropriate response. For instance, some signals can make you feel tired, while others may make you hungry.
The human brain has approximately 100 billion cells. Between these cells are gaps called synapses. To communicate between these gaps, brain cells use chemicals called neurotransmitters.
In other words, neurotransmitters are the messengers that travel between the small spaces that separate adjacent brain cells, allowing the two cells to communicate. Considering the sheer number of brain cells, you can imagine how important these chemical messengers are for the brain to function.
This chain reaction never stops and ensures that messages and signals are relayed through the vast network of brain cells.
There are many types of neurotransmitters, including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These are the three main neurotransmitters that are generally affected by antidepressants. However, individual antidepressants may target only one or more neurotransmitters.
It is believed that when you experience depression, there is an alteration of signaling of one or more of these neurotransmitters in your brain. Medication classes for depression can adjust the signaling of neurotransmitters in various ways to improve your mood.