Glutamate and GABA


Glutamate and GABA

Glutamate and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) are the brain’s major “workhorse” neurotransmitters. Over half of all brain synapses release Glutamate, and 30-40% of all brain synapses release GABA.

GABA and Glutamate regulate action potential traffic.

GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter, stops action potentials.


Glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter,
starts action potentials or keeps them going.

Since GABA is inhibitory and Glutamate is excitatory, both neurotransmitters work together to control many processes, including the brain’s overall level of excitation.


Tranquilizers increase ↑ GABA activity.

Alcohol decreases ↓ Glutamate activity.  Alcohol increases ↑ GABA activity.

Caffeine increases ↑ Glutamate activity.  Caffeine inhibits × GABA release.

PCP “angel dust” increases ↑ Glutamate activity.

The result of excess Glutamate or the imbalance of Glutamate & GABA in the brain have been implicated in a number of mental and neurological disorders … as well as drug-induced behavior and addiction.

Enhanced version of a blog’s (beyondmeds) discussion on the topic:

Glutamate is partner to GABA.  The two complement and balance each other, like two sides of a seesaw; you never have one without the other.  So if one is out of balance, so is the other.  If GABA function is screwed up, there’s going to be something screwed up with the Glutamate function as well. And the only neurotransmitter that is more used in the body than GABA is – Glutamate.

Lamictal (lamotrigine) acts on Glutamate receptors and Glutamate release.  It regulates / inhibits the release of Glutamate.

Benzodiazepines (benzos) effect GABA, resulting in sedative, hypnotic (sleep-inducing), anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), anticonvulsant, and muscle relaxant properties.

When you go off benzos it’s like you’re letting off the brakes on the Glutamate system.

When you go off Lamictal it’s like you’re pushing down the gas pedal on the Glutamate system.

You want to be careful when you’re doing both at the same time.

Quoted & Image from Source: – addiction – reward pathways

Quoted from Sources: – Gaba – Glutamate – Benzos – Lamictal – Benzodiazepine – Lamotrigine

1 Comment
  • Anonymous

    Thank you so much for this simplified explanation! Studying for a mental health final and this has helped me better understand it a lot!

    Thank you again!

    December 11, 2013 at 10:03 am

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