Review of pharmacological treatment in mood disorders and future directions for drug development

Xiaohua Li, Mark A. Frye, Richard C. Shelton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


After a series of serendipitous discoveries of pharmacological treatments for mania and depression several decades ago, relatively little progress has been made for novel hypothesis-driven drug development in mood disorders. Multifactorial etiologies of, and lack of a full understanding of, the core neurobiology of these conditions clearly have contributed to these development challenges. There are, however, relatively novel targets that have raised opportunities for progress in the field, such as glutamate and cholinergic receptor modulators, circadian regulators, and enzyme inhibitors, for alternative treatment. This review will discuss these promising new treatments in mood disorders, the underlying mechanisms of action, and critical issues of their clinical application. For these new treatments to be successful in clinical practice, it is also important to design innovative clinical trials that identify the specific actions of new drugs, and, ideally, to develop biomarkers for monitoring individualized treatment response. It is predicted that future drug development will identify new agents targeting the molecular mechanisms involved in the pathophysiology of mood disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-101
Number of pages25
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • circadian
  • clinical pharmacology
  • clinical trials
  • mood disorders
  • neurotransmission
  • signal transduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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