Advances in Pharmacological Treatments for Depression: Exploring Novel Developments and Targets – 2023 Update

Posted on:June 30, 2023
Last Updated: November 30, 2023
Time to read: 18–22 minutes

In the realm of depression treatment, current pharmacological approaches have largely relied on the monoamine deficiency hypothesis, leading to the development of monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), tricyclic antidepressant agents (TCAs), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and newer antidepressants such as vortioxetine and agomelatine that indirectly increase monoaminergic transmission through receptor modulation.

Depression is a complex disease, is challenging to diagnose, has an aetiology that is not fully established and can co-exist with several other mental disorders and somatic illnesses. [Gaebel et al. 2017]

However, despite their widespread use, existing treatments suffer significant drawbacks, including delayed onset of efficacy, treatment resistance, and tolerance issues. Moreover, the intricate relationship between depression and somatic illnesses adds complexity to the already intricate polypharmacy regimens.

This article aims to shed light on recent developments in the field, exploring promising receptor targets for the pharmacological treatment of depression.

With the emergence of novel compounds and the advancement of mechanistic knowledge, there is hope for second or third-generation analogues that exhibit enhanced efficacy and improved safety profiles. These advancements can potentially address the urgent need for enhanced depression treatments, particularly for individuals with difficult-to-treat depression.

We do not cover psychedelics in this review as we have covered the mechanism of action of psychedelics in detail in this article. 

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