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Antidepressant medications can help pull people out of the depths of the blues. But it takes three to six weeks before patients feel the full effects of these drugs.

Now, a new study led by researchers at McGill University in Montreal offers hope for a faster-acting antidepressant.

The work was carried out on mice with a new class of experimental compounds known as serotonin receptor agonists, which enhance certain nerve impulses within the brain.

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(Currently, the most widely used antidepressants - selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) - work by increasing the availability of serotonin, a chemical messenger in the brain.)

Dr. Guillaume Lucas, who led the research, said the study showed "a rapid onset of action."

But, of course, a lot more research is needed to prove the compounds work the same way in people.

Dr. Lucas hopes the study, published in the journal Neuron, will spark the interest of a major drug company to finance human trials.

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