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David Baxter

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Winter Serotonin Drops in Seasonal Depression
by Alka Agrawal, PhD
Sep 19th 2007

Depressed patients with seasonal affective disorder have an overactivity of serotonin transport during the winter, which normalizes after light treatment and in the summer, according to study findings published online Sept. 19 in Neuropsychopharmacology.

Matthaus Willeit, M.D., from the Medical University of Vienna in Austria, and colleagues used platelets from 73 drug-free depressed patients with seasonal affective disorder and 70 non-seasonal healthy controls to examine the activity of the serotonin transporter, 5-HTT.

The researchers found that both inward and outward serotonin transport was significantly enhanced in the depressed patients, but normalized after four weeks of bright light therapy and in the summer. Treatment response was clearly linked to changes in outward transport.

"In sum, we conclude that the 5-HTT is in a hyperfunctional state during depression in seasonal affective disorder and normalizes after light therapy and in natural summer remission," Willeit and colleagues conclude.

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