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Treatment of anxiety and depression: medicinal plants in retrospect

Anxiety and depression are complex heterogeneous psychiatric disorders and leading causes of disability worldwide. This review summarizes reports on the fundamentals, prevalence, diagnosis, neurobiology, advancement in treatment of these diseases and preclinical assessment of botanicals. This review was conducted through bibliographic investigation of scientific journals, books, electronic sources,unpublished theses and electronic medium such as Science Direct and PubMed. A number of the first-line drugs (benzodiazepine, azapirone, antidepressant tricyclics,monoamine oxidase inhibitors, serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors, noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors, serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors,etc.) for the treatment of these psychiatric disorders are products of serendipitous discoveries. Inspite of the numerous classes of drugs that are available for the treatment of anxiety and depression, full remission has remained elusive. The emerging clinical cases have shown increasing interests among health practitioners and patients in phytomedicine. The development of anxiolytic and anti depressant drugs of plant origin takes advantage of multidisciplinary approach including but not limited to ethnopharmacological survey (careful investigation of folkloric application of medicinal plant), phytochemical and pharmacological studies. The selection of a suitable plant for a pharmacological study is a basic and very important step. Relevant clues to achieving this step include traditional use, chemical composition, toxicity, randomized selection or a combination of several criteria. Medicinalplants have been and continue to be a rich source of biomolecule with therapeutic values for the treatment of anxiety and depression.