Recent animal studies have led us to reconsider the mechanism of action of antidepressant and mood stabilizing drugs. Whereas effects on neurotransmitter systems and intracellular signalling pathways continue to amass, studies now suggest that these drugs may act to prevent neuronal damage and cell loss that may occur in the brain of patients with mood disorders. Animal studies suggest that antidepressant and mood stabilizing drugs are neuroprotective and may also lead to neurogenesis in selected brain regions. Although the mechanisms through which neuroprotection occurs and the experimental conditions differ for these 2 classes of drugs, the net effects are clearly relevant to the pathophysiology of mood disorders.
L. Trevor Young, Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience