Primary biochemical profiles of antidepressants and neuroleptics are summarized in comparison to their actual effects on monoamine neurotransmitters in humans during the time period when clinical response emerges. Even the most biochemically specific of these drugs produces effects on at least two monoamines by three to four weeks. Interestingly, taking into account relative changes in dopamine and serotonin metabolites in cerebrospinal fluid relates better to the primary biochemical action(s) of each drug than do absolute changes. Moreover, monoamine changes after drugs are in the opposite direction to those after ECT, suggesting that balance among rather than shifts in single neurotransmitters is the relevant target of major psychotropic drugs.
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