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A scientific article discussing the science behind depression and anxiety and providing guidance
and resources for those battling depression, anxiety, and stress.

Emma Carpenter
Ryan Finnegan
Nimisha Jain
Anant Kanungo
Jackson Stone

Acknowledgements and Dedication

We would like to thank our AP Biology facilitator, Mrs. Kim Wootton, for giving us the
opportunity to dedicate our time and effort to a worthy cause that takes part in guiding the
betterment of healthy lifestyles of young adults.
Wed also like to acknowledge Mr. Ed Guignon for inspiring us to influence our
We dedicate this article and info graphic to all young adults struggling with their mental
and physical health.

The purpose of this document is to portray all current information on depression and
anxiety without any bias with the audience of young adult readers in mind. Every year more
information on brain function, as well as depression and credible research institutions publish
anxiety. These publications are not always congruent which can cause confusion in the general
public. Formatting these complex medical journals into easily understood sources for the public
is vital to slow down the epidemic of depression and anxiety.

Table of Content
Introduction......Page 4
Introduction to depression, what it is, and statistics behind depression.

Brain Physiology......Page 4
Basic anatomy of the brain and all vital parts including neurons, axons, synapses, etc.

Monoamines.....Page 5
Discussion of the effect of chemical imbalances on monoamines and the brain overall.

Connections......Page 6
Connecting brain physiology, neurotransmitters, and symptoms of depression to explain why this all effects depression.

Deficiency Diseases.......Page 7
Discusses different deficiency diseases that affect the brain.

Vitamins Chart........Page 8
Minerals Chart....Page 9
Managing Anxiety and Depression.Page 10
How to live with depression. Includes recommendations for daily practices, nutrition, and lifestyle tips.

Glossary.....Page 13
Work Cited....Page 15
Bibliography......Page 16
About the Authors....Page 17

The ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America) emphasizes that anxiety
disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the U.S, impacting 40 million adults; 18% of
the population. The DBSA (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance) emphasizes that untreated
depression is the number one suicide risk for young adults. The impact and number of diagnosed
patients of these mental illnesses are rapidly increasing every year. And its not only affecting
those with these mental illnesses but the rest of the American population as well. There is a direct
correlation between depression and violence, according to a study conducted in Sweden by the
University of Oxford. As well as a link between failure and dropout rates in school and
depression, according to NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness) This is not only harmful to
those suffering, but its also negatively impacting the rest of the population and our growth
towards a strong future as well.

Brain Physiology
Understanding the physiology of the brain can help provide answers to the chemical
imbalances in individuals affected by anxiety and depression. The brain is the spongy organ that
is taken under protection by the skull. There are many different parts of the brain but they all can
be split into 3 main sections: cerebrum, cerebellum, and the brain stem. Each section serves the
brain in a unique way, but as of right now researchers are still uncovering new theories and
studies as to how each part of the brain works.
The cerebrum is the largest part of the brain located
at the top of the organ as shown in the figure. It is divided
into 2 halves, the right side of the cerebrum controlling the
left side of the body and vice versa. For instance if an
individual was right handed, they would be left brain
dominate. Additionally the cerebrum is split into 4 lobes
each currently understood to control a separate part of ones
feelings and senses. The frontal lobe controls your
movement, speech, behavior, memory, intellectual
functions, and personality. The back lobe or occipital lobe
directs your your vision. The recognition of pain,
temperature, and spatial orientation is associated with the parietal lobe. On the bottom of the
cerebrum is the temporal lobe that stores your emotions and memories. Although the cerebrum is
split into parts, each of them are surrounded by a synapse membrane called the cerebral cortex.
This area is where the nerve cells make contact with the brain in order to transfer information to
your mind.

The cerebellum is the second largest organ of the brain and is housed right beneath the
cerebrum. Movement is one of the key functions of the cerebellum as it aids in balance, posture,
and reflexes. Some people with weaker balance could be considered to have slight cases of
cerebellar dysfunction. While this may not have an impact on your everyday life it can greatly
decrease one's aptitude in sports.
The brainstem is the part of your
brain that helps hold it into the skull while
connecting nerve tissues to the spinal cord.
Due to the location of the brain stem it is
often the involuntary controller of your
heartbeat as well as the intake of oxygen. In
addition, the desire to eat and drink can be
linked to connections that occur in the brain
stem. The most common incidents of damage
to the Brainstem occur in car accidents
which often leads to comas, stupors,
vegetative states or death.

The human brain is run by many different neurotransmitters, which are called
monoamines. These are proteins that receive, control, and send out electric signals that flow
through the brain to control our actions and thoughts. Some of these monoamines are serotonin,
dopamine, adrenaline, noradrenaline, and histamine. The regulation of these
comes from the Monoamine Oxidase Enzyme, an enzyme (A protein that stimulates a
biological process, like breaking down
molecules) attached to the mitochondria of brain
cells (St. Edwards University).
These enzymes break down monoamines
by oxidizing the neurotransmitters, which
removes the nitrogen amine groups on the ends
of it and leaves oxygen on the monoamines. The
monoamine oxidase enzyme exists in two
different forms that are called MAO-A and MAO-B. Although the use of MAO-A is unknown,
MAO-B is used to break down dopamine and serotonin. MAO-B will break down dopamine to
create ammonia (A vital nutrition source for other cells) and hydrogen peroxide, which
eventually gets turned into a waste. MAO-B breaks down serotonin by taking off the nitrogen in
the molecule, causing a deactivation reaction which creates ammonium and an inactive molecule,

essentially destroying the serotonin (St. Edwards University).

When neurons in our body transmit electron signals, some neurotransmitters are released
from the neuron's axon terminal across a
synaptic gap. When they are released, they This is the process of oxidation on a histamine molecule. As
trigger other neuron axons neighboring the you can see, the nitrogen is removed and oxygen is left.
current one. After triggering the other neuron
axon, they attach themselves to the axon
terminal for later impulse transmissions. If an
axon releases too many monoamines and not all
reattached to the axon, then that would leave
spontaneously, send transmissions. The body
responds to this by releasing cells with MAO-B to
break down the monoamines and get rid of the
This is a diagram of the interaction between axons,
excess (St. Edwards University).
synapses, and neurotransmitters. As seen, to send electric
If there were no cells with monoamines pulses, axons release neurotransmitters into the synapses.
oxidase enzymes, or if they were not functioning
properly, this would lead to an excess of
dopamine and serotonin in the body, which would relay random signals to other axons and cause
sudden changes in a subjects thinking process, mood, and overall mental state. Because of the
uncontrolled electric signals being sent out, it could even lead to mental retardation (St. Edwards
University). On the other hand, if there are too many cells with MAO-B, there would be a
deficiency of serotonin and dopamine. Without these neurotransmitters to regulate smooth
electron signals, neurons would fire out of control and would lead to a poor mental state.
The amount of cells with monoamine oxidase enzymes in our bodies can be regulated
indirectly with the amount of organic compounds we intake. Proteins are the building blocks of
enzymes and carbohydrates and a primary source of energy for cells. If we do not eat enough
proteins or carbohydrates, there will be no sources to build the enzymes or not enough energy to
keep the cells with the enzymes alive. This will lead to a deficiency in MAO-B, and thus a
surplus in serotonin, dopamine, and other monoamines. If we intake too many proteins and
carbohydrates, that will lead to an excess of cells with MAO-B, and thus a depletion of
neurotransmitters, also causing a poor mental state.


Mental disorders are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. Consuming a diet that
replenishes the chemical deficiencies can aid the effects of depression and anxiety. It has been
found that the average diet of Asian and American countries are lacking certain properties.

The brain contains neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin. Clinical studies
show that the brain cannot fully function properly when it does not have an abundant amount of
these neurotransmitters, creating a high risk of mood changes, and ultimately the development of
depression or anxiety (U.S. National Library of Medicine).
There are ways to both prevent and reduce the symptoms of mental disorders naturally.
First of all, by generally taking care of your body (sleeping for 9 hours a night, getting at least 30
minutes of exercise each day, eat the right foods in the right portions), that already puts you at
advantage against any diseases in general. More specifically, there are certain foods that can be
consumed that have vital components for the brain when attempting to subside depression and
anxiety. According to UCLA Newsroom, Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to fight against
mental disorders. In addition to this, omega-3s support a healthy heart It has also been
discovered that depression can result from a deficiency in the molecule BDNF (brain-derived
neurotropic transmitter).
In order to keep the body healthy and free of depression or anxiety, one could consume a
diet high in omega-3 fatty acids. This could include a variety of fish and nuts. An alternative
option would be to take an omega-3 fatty acid daily vitamin, which supplies the body with the
proper amount of omega-3 fatty acids, regardless of the daily food consumption.

Deficiency Diseases
The neurons in our body are cells and require not only organic compounds to function,
but also vitamins and minerals to act as aids for their enzymes to break down different materials.
Vitamins and minerals specifically act as keys to the enzymes in the cells to help them catalyze
chemical reactions that go through nerve cells. Without vitamins or minerals, the enzymes that
keep neurons alive and functioning would not be able to perform their jobs and the neurons
would be destroyed or dysfunctional. Specifically, the tissue made of neurons in the brain would
send or inhibit random signals from neurotransmitters, which would trigger other functions in
our brain randomly and cause more damage. On pages 8 and 9 are some of the many vitamins
and minerals we need and the result of their deficiency.




Grain Products, Pork, Legumes,

Nuts, Seeds, and Organ Meats

Function and Deficiency

Involved in metabolising
glucose, which is brain's main
energy source. Deficiency can
lead to Wernicke-Korsakoff
Syndrome and memory loss.

Vitamin B-12

Foods of Animal Origin (Meat,

Milk, Eggs)

Required to maintain myelin

sheath, the outer coating for
nerve cells. Deficiency leads to
permanent nerve damage and

Folic Acid

Liver, Yeast, Asparagus, Fried

Beans & Peas, Wheat, Broccoli

Involved in protein metabolism

and creation of amino acids.
Deficiency leads to general
mental health problems.


Grains, Meat, Fish

Assisting mitochondria in
releasing energy in body from
organic compounds. Deficiency
leads to pellagra.

Vitamin B-6

Chicken, Fish, Pork, Rice

Involved in production of brain

neurotransmitters and hormone
production. Deficiency leads to
fatigue, depression, and

Vitamin E

Plant Oils, Leafy Vegetables

Vitamin E is used to cure

Vitamin E deficiency (WebMD).
Deficiency can lead to
Parkinsons & Alzheimers

Vitamin A

Meat, Fish, Eggs

Deficiency leads to fatigue,

irritability, and loss of appetite

Mineral Name



Meat, Poultry, Fish > Enriched

Grains, Green Vegetables, Dried

Function and Deficiency

Iron is used to create
Hemoglobin which carries


Oxygen throughout your body.

People with Iron deficiency can
get Anemia which leads to a
shutoff to oxygen to the brain.
This can lead to fatigue and
impairing mental functions.


Green Vegetables, Whole

Grains, Nuts, Seeds, and

Magnesium helps your body

transmit nerve impulses and
strengthen bone structure.
Deficiency to Magnesium leads
to restlessness, nervousness,
muscular twitching, and


Whole Grains, Nuts, Fruits, and


Manganese supports
carbohydrate metabolism and
brain functioning. Deficiency of
Manganese is rare, but can lead
to abnormalities in the brain.


Meats, Seafood, Nuts, Seeds,

Whole Grain Breads, Cereal,
and Chocolate

Copper maintains the iron

metabolism in the body and in
the brain. Like Iron, deficiency
in Copper leads to Anemia
which lowers the amount of
oxygen the brain receives. Lack
of Copper also impairs brain
functions, the immune system,
chemical receptors, and


Red Meat, Liver, Eggs, Dairy

Products, Vegetables, and some

Zinc protects the body's cells by

maintaining cell membranes.
Zinc deficiency leads to
neurological impairments, as
well as changes in taste, smell,
and vision.


Seafood, Liver, Grains, Seeds

and Eggs

Selenium helps produce protein

hormones and protection for the
cell membrane. Selenium
deficiency is very rare due to the
low levels needed. Lack of
selenium can eventually lead to

nervous system damage.

Managing Anxiety and Depression


Find a quiet location.
Find an object to focus on. (The ceiling, a blank wall, a fan, etc.)
Either sit or lay down, whatever feels comfortable.
Optional Step: Turn on any music of your choice that you find soothing/calming.
Stare at the chosen object while taking in deep breaths.
Close your eyes and take deep breaths.
Switch between steps 5 and 6 as you feel comfortable.
This meditating activity should take about 10-15 minutes.
Peer Support
There are multiple support groups available for people battling the anxiety and depression. If you
dont feel comfortable leaving the house, there are multiple online support groups as well.
The ADAA has a list of support groups on their website at: http://www.adaa.org/supportgroups
They also have a list of online support groups on their website as well at:
Muscle Relaxation
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance promotes this activity of muscle relaxation for those
with anxiety who have trouble relaxing and calming down.
Follow these steps and relax your muscles after the completion of each step.

Clench your left hand into a fist.

Flex your biceps while bending your elbows.
Wrinkle your forehead.
Close your eyes tightly.
Press your lips together tightly.
Press your tongue against the roof of your mouth.
Clench your jaw.
Suck in your stomach and hold it; then expand it by taking a deep breath to fill it with air.
Arch your back to tense it.
Press your heels into the ground to flex your thighs.
Make your calves tense by curling your toes down.
Tense your shins by bending your toes towards the top of your foot.
Sertraline (Zoloft)

Antidepressant- selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor

Used to treat depression and anxiety
Side Effects
Drowsiness, dizziness, tired feeling
Mild nausea, stomach pain, upset stomach, constipation
Dry mouth
Changes in appetite or weight
Sleep problems (insomnia)

Fluoxetine (Prozac)
Antidepressant- selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor
Used to treat depression, anxiety and panic disorders
Side Effects
Sleep problems (insomnia), strange dreams
Headache, dizziness, vision changes
Tremors or shaking, feeling anxious or nervous
Pain, weakness, yawning, tired feeling
Upset stomach, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
Dry mouth, sweating, hot flashes
Changes in weight or appetite
Stuffy nose, sinus pain, sore throat, flu symptoms
Create a Trigger Table
Keeping a record of your thoughts and feelings during this process is extremely helpful, since it
keeps records of your stress and trigger patterns. The DBSA (Depression and Bipolar Support
Alliance) has created a table that can help you record such information:

My Reaction (Thoughts,
Emotions, Actions)

What can I do?

Get Active
Physical activity has been scientifically proven to make people feel better and happier. Exercise
stimulates chemicals in your brain and releases endorphins, which are hormones that reduce the
sensation of pain. Not only that, but exercise boosts your energy, while it delivers oxygen to your
tissues, which relieves the feeling of fatigue for those battling depression.
Get Involved
When struggling with anxiety and depression, its easy to get lost in negative thoughts. Its
important to have an activity of your liking that you can focus on and work on. For example, if
youre someone that likes art, coloring or painting are known stress-relievers that give you
something focus on and keep you away from negative thoughts.

Kimberly Babson, a health science specialist, says that, we are more likely to react emotionally
to stressful situations when we are sleep deprived. Other research as also shown has also linked
sleep deprivation with anxiety and depression. Getting enough sleep is already very important to
everyone, especially teens as their body grows and releases hormones while they are deep in
If you think you have anxiety and/or depression and have been experiencing some symptoms,
here is the link to quiz that can give you an idea of where you are.
Link: http://goo.gl/AVk7i5

*Please keep in mind that this quiz was not created by an actual doctor or scientist, it is just to
give you an idea or where you are and if you maybe need to see a doctor for more information



Organ: A part of an organism that is typically self-contained and has a specific vital function,
such as the heart or liver in humans.
Neurotransmitters: A chemical substance that is released at the end of a nerve fiber by the
arrival of a nerve impulse and, by diffusing across the synapse or junction, causes the transfer of
the impulse to another nerve fiber, a muscle fiber, or some other structure.
Mitochondria: An organelle found in large numbers in most cells, in which the biochemical
processes of respiration and energy production occur. It has a double membrane, the inner layer
being folded inward to form layers (cristae).
Hydrogen Peroxide: A colorless, viscous, unstable liquid with strong oxidizing properties,
commonly used in diluted form in disinfectants and bleaches.
Oxidizing: Combine or become combined chemically with oxygen.
Axon: The long threadlike part of a nerve cell along which impulses are conducted from the cell
body to other cells.
Synaptic Gap: The minute space between the cell membrane of an axon terminal and of the
target cell with which it synapses
Mental Retardation: Below average intelligence and set of life skills present before age 18.
Organic Compounds: Any member of a large class of gaseous, liquid, or solid chemical
compounds whose molecules contain carbon.
Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome: chronic memory disorder caused by severe deficiency of
Dementia: A chronic or persistent disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or
injury and marked by memory disorders, personality changes, and impaired reasoning.
Amino Acids: A simple organic compound containing both a carboxyl (COOH) and an amino
(NH2) group.
Pellagra: A deficiency disease caused by a lack of nicotinic acid or its precursor tryptophan in
the diet. It is characterized by dermatitis, diarrhea, and mental disturbance, and is often linked to
over-dependence on corn as a staple food.


Insomnia: Habitual sleeplessness; inability to sleep.

Parkinsons Disease: A progressive disease of the nervous system marked by tremor, muscular
rigidity, and slow, imprecise movement, chiefly affecting middle-aged and elderly people. It is
associated with degeneration of the basal ganglia of the brain and a deficiency of the
neurotransmitter dopamine.
Alzheimers Disease: A progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental
Metabolism: The chemical processes that occur within a living organism in order to maintain
Hormones: A regulatory substance produced in an organism and transported in tissue fluids such
as blood or sap to stimulate specific cells or tissues into action.

Works Cited

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Is Depression Just a Chemical Imbalance? - Depression Treatment Program at Portland

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activeingredientid=954&activeingredientname=vitamin e


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About The Authors

Nimisha Jain is currently a hard-working student who loves to learn new things and is curious
about how things work. Jain likes to be involved and part of the community and for that reason,
she is a part of numerous clubs and organizations, such as DECA, NT Motorsports, NT


Ambassadors, Outdoor Adventure Club, Community Service, Student Reporting Labs, Red
Cross, Farmers Club and much more. She currently has a psychology internship for which she
writes articles to be published on a psychology website. Jain also has a job tutoring kids. She
loves to read, paint, film, and take pictures in her free time.
Emma Carpenter has been an avid lover of music her entire life. She began playing piano at the
age of eight, picked up percussion in 6th grade, and most recently started teaching herself guitar
when she was fifteen. Emma also participated in dance both in and outside of school, and was a
member of the JV Silver Stars drill team for two years, her second year in which was head
lieutenant. Aside from her large passion for the arts, she has been a motivated and dedicated
student; she was accepted into the Gifted and Talented program in the first grade and excelled in
the curriculum all throughout elementary, middle, and high school. In addition to that, she has
been a member of the National Honor Society for two years. In her spare time, Emma enjoys
spending time with her friends and family, and of course both listening to and performing all
kinds of music on various instruments.
Anant Kanungo is a senior student, an NHS member, part of the Garden Club, and a Community
Service Club Member at New Tech High @ Coppell. He is a part of the CHS Varsity Swim Team
and an Eagle Scout of Troop 840 as well as the President of Venturing Crew 808. In his free
time, he likes to learn about math and science, and engineer a variety of things. Anant is
passionate about the study of mathematics, physics, and electrical engineering and would like to
study in one of those fields.
Jackson attends New Tech High School @ Coppell as a senior. He values science and
mathematics as vital to his future success as an engineer. To achieve his goals Jackson actively
strives to finish above his peers in all aspects of adolescence. Participating in the Young Mens
service League, Boy Scouts, National Honor Society, and Community Service Club he has
acquired over 300 hours of community service. In addition to service, Jackson spends his free
time playing lacrosse, tennis, golf, and ultimate Frisbee, as well as any outdoor activity that the
weather will allow. Through AP biology he hopes to better understand life, the earth, and how to
preserve it.
Ryan Finnegan is currently a senior at New Tech High @ Coppell. He is a part of the
school's student council organization (LLC) as well as a proud member of NHS. Ryan spends his
time doing community service as well as hanging out with his friends. He is currently unsure of
what major he is interested in. He would like to look into the fields of Computer Science,
Aerospace Engineering, Astronomy, etc. in the near future.