Explore the Science of Depression

Medically reviewed by 
Chelsea Tersavich, PA-C
Published on 
November 20, 2023
Updated on 

Let’s explore the science behind depression.

Depression is a multifaceted condition influenced by a blend of genetic, environmental, and psychosocial factors. While the experience of depression varies uniquely for each individual, there are a few common events that happen in our brains when we feel its effects:

Neurotransmitter Imbalance

Neurotransmitters play a crucial role in regulating mood, emotions, and overall brain function.

Reduced levels of these neurotransmitters can lead to mood disturbances and the characteristic symptoms of depression.

Reduced Neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity is the brain's ability to adapt and form new connections between neurons.

In depression, there is evidence of reduced neuroplasticity, which may contribute to difficulties in processing emotions and negative thought patterns. 

Overactive Amygdala

The amygdala, part of the brain's limbic system responsible for emotions, can become overactive.

This hyperactivity may lead to increased sensitivity to negative stimuli, resulting in a heightened emotional response to distressing events.

Impaired Prefrontal Cortex Function

The prefrontal cortex, responsible for decision-making, problem-solving, and impulse control, can show reduced activity in depression.

This impairment might contribute to difficulties in regulating emotions and coping with stress.

Stress Hormones

The prolonged release of stress hormones, like cortisol, can change brain structure and function over time, which can further exacerbate the symptoms of depression.

Hippocampal Atrophy

The hippocampus, involved in memory and emotional processing, can experience shrinkage in individuals with depression.

This may affect memory, mood regulation, and contribute to cognitive difficulties associated with depression.


The Beyond Depression pathway will help you manage depressive symptoms and life experiences as they arise, and build a new life, with you in charge of your emotional states.


This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. If you are in a life-threatening situation, call the National Suicide Prevention Line at +1 (800) 273-8255, call 911, or go to the nearest emergency room.

Important FDA Safety Information

Ketamine is not FDA-approved for the treatment of depression or anxiety. Learn more about off-label uses here.

Side effects of ketamine treatment may include: altered sense of time, anxiety, blurred vision, diminished ability to see/hear/feel, dry mouth, elevated blood pressure or heart rate, elevated intraocular or intracranial pressure, excitability, loss of appetite, mental confusion, nausea/vomiting, nystagmus (rapid eye movements), restlessness, slurred speech, synesthesia (a mingling of the senses).

Do not proceed with ketamine treatment if any of the following apply to you:

  • Allergic to ketamine
  • Symptoms of psychosis or mania
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • CHF or other serious heart problem
  • Severe breathing problem
  • History of elevated intraocular or intracranial pressure
  • History of hyperthyroidism
  • Other serious medical illness
  • Pregnant, nursing, or trying to become pregnant

Ketamine has been reported to produce issues including, but not limited to, those listed below. However, lasting adverse side-effects are rare when medical protocols are carefully followed.

While ketamine has not been shown to be physically addictive, it has been shown to cause moderate psychological dependency in some recreational users.

  • In rare cases, frequent, heavy users have reported increased frequency of urination, urinary incontinence, pain urinating, passing blood in the urine, or reduced bladder size
  • Ketamine may worsen problems in people with schizophrenia, severe personality disorders, or other serious mental disorders.
  • Users with a personal or family history of psychosis should be cautious using any psychoactive substance, including ketamine, and discuss potential risks with your MindBloom® clinician before proceeding with treatment.
  • The dissociative effects of ketamine may increase patient vulnerability and the risk of accidents.

To promote positive outcomes and ensure safety, follow these ketamine treatment guidelines:

  • Do not operate a vehicle (e.g., car, motorcycle, bicycle) or heavy machinery following treatment until you’ve had a full night of sleep
  • Refrain from taking benzodiazepines or stimulants for 24 hours prior to treatment
  • Continue to take antihypertensive medication as prescribed
  • Avoid hangovers or alcohol intake
  • Refrain from consuming solid foods within 3 hours prior to treatment and liquids within 1 hour prior to treatment
  • Ketamine treatment should never be conducted without a monitor present to ensure your safety

Try Ketamine Treatment

If you're ready to explore ketamine treatment yourself, you can start the process through the link below.

Get StartedGet Started