Researchers Claim a Natural Hormone May Provide Breakthrough Depression Treatment

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Depression sufferers around the world may have a source of hope as researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center claim to have found a “breakthrough” way to treat the disorder.

The study, published online in April’s issue of Molecular Psychiatry, claims to have improved our understanding of how a specific natural antidepressant hormone known as ghrelin works in the brain. In their report, they suggest ghrelin may have the potential to be a new strong antidepressant.

Ghrelin is commonly referred to as the “hunger hormone” for its ability to stimulate appetite, but it has also been found to contain natural antidepressant properties when its levels increase. The hormone is produced in the stomach and intestines, but can lead to the formation of new neurons in the hippocampus, the region of the brain associated with memory, mood, and complex eating behaviors.

“By investigating the way the so-called ‘hunger hormone’ ghrelin works to limit the extent of depression following long-term exposure to stress, we discovered what could become a brand new class of antidepressant drugs,” lead researcher Dr. Jeffrey Zigman, associate professor of internal medicine and psychiatry at UT Southwestern, noted in a press release.

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