Depression is a condition that involves mood disorder. It leads to a constant sense of grief and lack of interest.
Called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it influences your mood, thoughts and the way you behave and can cause different emotional and physical issues. You may even feel unable to perform your everyday duties, and sometimes you may feel very sad about your life.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 7.6 % of people who are above the age of 12 have depression in any 2-week’s period.
This is important and shows how serious the issue is. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that depression is the most common disease globally and the main reason for disability. They found that 350 million people are suffering from depression on a worldwide scale.
Here is an important research conducted by the ENIGMA group and co-authored by University of Sydney scholars at the Brain and Mind Research Institute.
The authors published the research in Molecular Psychiatry. They stated that when patients face repeated periods of depression, their hippocampus shows apparent, physical reduction. The hippocampus (Latin, from the Greek for seahorse) is a part of the limbic system, the section of the brain that is responsible for our emotionality. The hippocampus is also essential for our short-term memory. Researchers studied the hippocampus, They wanted to find out if a hippocampus smaller in size would lead to indications of depression.
At the Brain and Mind Research Institute, scientist Ian Hickey established a 9,000 people-brain scan library.
When he compared the results of the tests conducted on healthy patients’ brains to the results of those who had been through periods of depression, he could reasonably conclude that depression damages our brain physically. For real. Moreover, physical changes in patients with depression below the age of 21, were most apparent.
Researchers discovered that the hippocampus’ volume got reduced up to 10 percent when someone went through periods of depression.
In some animals, the reduction of the volume of the hippocampus also changes their behavior. Signs of a shrunken hippocampus involve difficulties in focusing and memory issues.
Here comes the question, which happens first? The shrinking of the hippocampus or the depression?
Your brain’s health may very; you can improve your brain’s condition and your hippocampus. Scientists at the Centre for Psychiatric Research in Stockholm have examined depressed people for ten years in one study, and the outcomes prove that we could change the negative consequences that affect the hippocampus.
The right, individualized treatment can change these effects, mainly because the hippocampus is one of the most regenerative areas.
This ability, to repair and produce new nerves – neurogenesis and neuroplasticity – shows that you can improve your brain’s condition. And change the shrunken hippocampus and prevent the depressive periods from happening. In animal tests, neurogenesis is predominant. It makes the depressed brains healthy. On the top of that, various trials and antidepressant medications prove to start or help the process.
“These conclusions shed new light on brain structures and potential mechanisms causing depression,” states Associate Professor Jim Lagopoulos of the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Research Institute.
Finding of Poul Videbech, a specialist in psychiatry.
Professor Poul Videbech, a specialist in psychiatry at the Centre for Psychiatric Research at Aarhus University Hospital wanted to understand why some patients recovered their prior ability to remember and concentrate after the depression was over. He explained that this was thanks to the brain’s plasticity. The brain can not only deteriorate but also repair its damaged brain mass by creating new cells. This capacity of the brain to regenerate itself – neurogenesis – was found in 1996. Although the discovery is more than a decade old, only a limited number of researchers know about it.
We don’t know why neurogenesis happens in some people. Scientists believe that the process begins in the stem cells in the hippocampus; these cells can split and create new nerve cells.
Videbech began his studies after he had diagnosed and treated many depression patients at the hospital. A standard sign of the disease as mentioned above is difficulty in focusing and remembering things. But he found out that the symptoms often continued after the patient had officially recovered.
”Their symptoms were uncomfortable, at times crippling, and after I had heard the same story many times, I started asking myself about the cause. So I began scanning their brains.”
In the past, scientists thought that antidepressants worked primarily because they affected the neurotransmitter serotonin. But the latest research shows that antidepressants affect neurogenesis by starting the formation of new nerve cells.
The brain scans revealed intense activity in the hippocampus, which contains the memory function and controls the body’s different pressure functions.
The scans also confirmed that this section was often reduced considerably in patients with depression. Especially if they had gone through several long depression periods. The most severe cases were in patients whose depressions were still active.
Videbech thinks that the brain’s plasticity is very unusual and deserves further study.
”But I also think it is interesting that we can create new kinds of treatment that can provoke neurogenesis. Thus stopping nerve tissue’s damage and at the same time making the brain repair on its own” he states.
Specialists could treat patients with medications, but exercise also could have a positive influence.
”That’s why I advise my patients to exercise as much as they can,” adds Videbech.
We, form Intelligence is Sexy, strongly recommend finding professional help if you suffer from depression which is affecting your normal way of life.
Do you know people who have? Please, share your experience.