Strong evidence of a genetic vulnerability for the development of major forms of affective disorder suggests that manic and depressive symptoms are caused by specific biochemical abnormalities. Clues for particular chemical lesions have come mostly from the known effects of mood-altering drugs on neurotransmitters. Much current thinking favors a biogenicamine hypothesis, based on findings that antidepressant drugs all facilitate the synaptic activities of amines such as norepinephrine and serotonin, whether by inhibiting their neuronal-uptake inactivation, preventing their metabolic degradation, or other means. In a substantial number of patients, reserpine, which depletes the brain of its amine content, elicits a depressive.
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