The Brain’s Impact On Depression
Popular lore has it that emotions reside in the heart. Science, though, tracks the seat of your emotions to the brain. Certain areas of the brain help regulate mood. Researchers believe that more important than levels of specific brain chemicals nerve cell connections, nerve cell growth, and the functioning of nerve circuits have a major impact on depression. Still, their understanding of the neurological underpinnings of mood is incomplete.
Or The Other Way Around
The direction of causality hasnt been determined, but there are 100% concrete links between inflammation, brain fog, and depression these links may go beyond just the cognitive and emotional factors in depressions brain fog.
Other diseases that may involve autoimmune and/or inflammatory processes also correlate with brain fog.
So some doctors and scientists now believe inflammation may be a significant root of depressive symptoms though not the only one.
This would make depression and brain fog siblings, instead of parent and child both results of the same underlying processes.
Effects Of Depression On The Brain
Thanks to advances in medical technology, researchers have been able to track down the exact areas of the brain that are impacted by severe depression, and in turn, the areas that affect depression. As a result, studies show that the three areas that are most affected are the hippocampus, the amygdala, and the prefrontal cortex.
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What Help Is Available
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants a class of drugs that increase the amount of serotonin in the brain and cognitive behavioural therapy , or a combination of both, are the most common forms of treatment for depression, and depression-related symptoms, like brain fog. CBT is a form of talking therapy that aims to retrain your thinking processes. Therapist Sally Baker says that SSRIs tend to give people a small burst in energy that can be just enough to give them the motivation to start talking about and reworking their thought processes.
Antidepressants and CBT can help you to find the edges of that grey fog, she says. Medication tends to give you just enough of a lift to begin therapy and start making changes.
Neurology doctor at the Mayo Clinic, Dr Hannah Betcher, very often recommends psychotherapy with medication. The skills you learn in psychotherapy can be helpful in the long term, she says. CBT and behavioural activation therapy have a lot of proven research behind them. They are about recognition and reinforcement in a positive way, helping you to focus on what you were able to do that day.
Seeking treatment early isnt always possible, as the signs arent always obvious, and feelings of shame and confusion might make it difficult to actually take the steps towards treatment
*this name has been changed
Connective And Structural Changes
When a person experiences depression, it can also cause connective and structural changes to the brain.
Some connective and structural changes include:
- Affecting attention and executive function by reducing the functionality of the prefrontal cortex
- Causing memory impairment by reducing the functionality of the hippocampus
- Affecting emotional regulation and mood by reducing the functionality of the amygdala
How does untreated depression affect the brain? Longer-lasting depression potentially leads to persisting dysfunction in memory, mood, attention, executive function, and emotional regulation.<
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What Causes Depression: Brain Chemistry
You might have heard that depression stems from a chemical imbalance, and thats partly true. In people with depression, the levels of certain brain chemicals are thought to be out of balance, particularly these neurotransmitters:
Antidepressant medications are believed to work, in part, by helping correct these brain chemical imbalances.
While serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine have long been considered the big three neurotransmitters involved in depression, recent research suggests that what causes depression may be more complicated than just having not enough or too much of these neurotransmitters in certain parts of the brain.
What Does Major Depression Do To The Brain
Depression is more than just a mood disorder. It is a psychological condition that affects more than just the way you feel. Major depression, also known as clinical depression, can cause the chemical activity of your brain to change resulting in numerous different symptoms. So, how exactly does depression impact the brain? Keep reading to find out!
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What Fatigue Feels Like
Fatigue, like brain fog, can be a product of many different physical and mental conditions. It can be very tricky to describe to others because its often mistaken as simply feeling tired.
But fatigue is much more than just tiredness. People experiencing fatigue often feel tired even after light exertion. Getting through an average day seems like a marathon. And waking unrefreshed is a big indicator that your feeling dead may be a more complex issue.
A Depressed Brain Isnt Damaged Goods
We all have the same basic brain structure although the neuronal connections, determining the activation of and communication between brain circuits, are unique to every person. The particular circuits excited over and over in your brain become the go-to default pattern for you and are the product of your thoughts, interactions with others and the world, and the events that happen to you.
In the 1960s, we were told depression was due to a deficiency of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Then, a still popular theory blamed depression on too little serotonin. Today, we know that its much more complicated than either of these and involves many other neurochemicals which influence and are influenced by depression. To oversimplify, each neurotransmitter tends to contribute to a particular depressive symptom.
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Brain Structure And Function
Depression is linked to widespread changes in brain structure and function including in the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, and amygdala. These regions are all involved in cognition, executive function , and emotion processing.
These regions are interlinked via neural circuits, and they send and receive messages from each other, so problems in one region will impact on others. And, the neural circuits responsible for cognition and emotion processing overlap with those that control our stress response systems. So periods of high stress can also impair cognitive function and worsen mood.
The changes in these brain regions seen in depression can have a big impact on how well our brain works during memory tasks. For example, people with depression often have a smaller hippocampus, and had increased activity extending from the prefrontal cortex during a working memory task in which they were asked to remember specific letters. This meant the brains of people with depression brains had to work harder during the memory task by recruiting the help of additional brain regions to perform at the same level as participants who didnt have depression.
Adopt A Mindfulness Practice
Finally, you have to take care of your mind if you want it to work properly.Countless studies have found the link between positive mental health and meditation or some other type of mindfulness exercise. By focusing your attention on the present moment and just sinking into the bliss that each uninterrupted second of meditation allows, you can actually restructure your brain and eliminate depression. In fact, many studies have found meditation to rival medication in treating depression.
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What Can Be Done About Depression After Tbi
If you have symptoms of depression, it is important to seek professional help as soon as possible, preferably with a health care provider who is familiar with TBI. Depression is not a sign of weakness, and it is not anyones fault. Depression can be a medical problem, just like high blood pressure or diabetes. You cannot get over depression by simply wishing it away, using more willpower or toughening up. It is best to get treatment early to prevent needless suffering and worsening symptoms.
If you have thoughts of suicide, get help right away.; If you have strong thoughts of suicide and a suicide plan, call a local crisis line, 911, the 24-hour National Crisis Hotline at;800-273-8255, or go to an emergency room immediately.
The good news is that certain antidepressant medications and psychotherapy treatments, or a combination of the two, can help most people who have depression.
Structural And Connective Changes
As mentioned earlier, depression can cause shrinkage to specific areas of the brain and therefore cause their dysfunction.;;
For example, reduced functionality of the;prefrontal cortex can affect their executive function and attention, dysfunction of the amygdala can affect emotional regulation and mood and reduced hippocampal functionality can cause memory issues.;
These changes usually take a;minimum of 8 months;to develop and;may persist for longer periods;after longer-lasting depressive episodes, particularly affecting memory emotional regulation, mood, and attention.;
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Conclusion And Future Direction
In vivo MRI scans have made great achievements in the study of psychiatric disorders, which have resulted in the dawn of the understanding of the pathophysiology of psychosis, especially of MDD. Many brain region alterations have been reported, and some crucial circuits have also been revealed via imaging studies. The discovery of brain network put forward new ideas in the understanding of the disease of depression, providing effective stimulation sites and efficacy evaluations for the commonly used transcranial magnetic stimulation or deep brain stimulation techniques. In addition, these findings also suggest that MDD is not only due to local lesions but is also a multiloop disorder. However, previous studies still had limitations, and more research is needed in the future. First, most of the studies mentioned small sample sizes, which could have increased the falsepositive and falsenegative rates of the results. Therefore, multicenter cooperation not only would solve this problem of sample content but also could result in more indepth research. Second, the identification of significant lesions relies on longterm followups and the comparison of treated and nontreated patients. Future studies need to conduct longitudinal studies with larger samples. Moreover, using animal experiments to verify the neuroimaging findings and applying the results to humans is very important and will be a big step in the application of neuroimaging to the clinical field.
How Depression Changes Your Brain
It seems that more people in the world live with depression than ever before. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, an estimated 350 million people of all ages worldwide suffer from this mentally debilitating disease.
Depression can literally change your brain, altering the neural pathways and synapses and shrinking the size of your hippocampus, an area of the brain that regulates emotions and memory. Mentally, you probably feel foggy and exhausted, as your brain must work harder to process information and feelings. If you dont feel well mentally, it can take a toll on every other area of your life.
Depression can make you feel disconnected from the world around you, helpless to make any sort of change, and paralyzed by the thoughts inside your head. To combat all of these feelings, many people unfortunately turn to prescription drugs as a temporary answer, but we still dont know the long-term effects of these powerful drugs. Instead of medicating ourselves, we can turn to more natural remedies that often work better than even pills can.
Today, well go over how exactly depression alters your brain, and ways to reverse the damage naturally. It takes willpower and determination, but you CAN take your life back with a few simple lifestyle changes and ways of thinking.
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Harvard Instructor Shares How Companies Can Make Their Workers Happier
During the workday when you get caught in the stress of the moment, step back, take a breath and chill. Achieving balance between the gas and brakes is a never-ending dance. Especially in our culture where doing is more valued than being where youre taught to believe that the more you do, the greater your worth. Some employers will make unreasonable demands. Life wont always go your way, hardships and obstacles will occur and family obligations will challenge you. At times it might even seem like the world is conspiring against you. But it isnt. Youre simply experiencing life on its own terms, not yours.
Learn To Still Your Mind
If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health issue, dont hesitate to reach out for help. Contact Mental Health America to find resources closest to you or call 800-273-8255, a 24 hour crisis center. Contact the Anxiety And Depression Association of America for more information on prevention, treatment and symptoms of anxiety, depression and related conditions . You can also call 800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 at the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline. Trained crisis workers will listen to you and direct you to the resources you need. In an emergency, call 911 or contact a local hospital or mental health facility.
World Health Organization. . Depression and other common mental disorders: global health estimates. Geneva: World Health Organization.
Genes’ Effect On Mood And Depression
Every part of your body, including your brain, is controlled by genes. Genes make proteins that are involved in biological processes. Throughout life, different genes turn on and off, so that in the best case they make the right proteins at the right time. But if the genes get it wrong, they can alter your biology in a way that results in your mood becoming unstable. In a person who is genetically vulnerable to depression, any stress can then push this system off balance.
Mood is affected by dozens of genes, and as our genetic endowments differ, so do our depressions. The hope is that as researchers pinpoint the genes involved in mood disorders and better understand their functions, depression treatment can become more individualized and more successful. Patients would receive the best medication for their type of depression.
Another goal of gene research, of course, is to understand how, exactly, biology makes certain people vulnerable to depression. For example, several genes influence the stress response, leaving us more or less likely to become depressed in response to trouble.
The evidence for other types of depression is more subtle, but it is real. A person who has a first-degree relative who suffered major depression has an increase in risk for the condition of 1.5% to 3% over normal.
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Can Brain Changes That Occur In Chronic Depression Be Reversed
In this video, Greg Mattingly, MD, discusses how some of the neurological impacts of chronic;depression;can;possibly be reversed. Dr. Mattingly is;Associate Clinical Professor, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, principal investigator in clinical trials for Midwest Research Group and founding partner of St. Charles Psychiatric Associates, St. Charles, Missouri.
Read the transcript:
Chronic depression causes damage within neural networks in the brain. As we’ve talked about before, chronic depression causes decreased neural connectivity, where one set of neural cells doesn’t crosstalk to another set of nerve cells.
Pioneering work by Yvette Sheline, Wayne Drevets, and others has shown the chronic depression decreases the size of the hippocampus, damages parts of the anterior cingulate and other pathways within the brain.
The good news is, some of this damage can be reversed. We have wonderful new information about the role of neural networks, about the role of neural growth factors.
I’d like to go back in time. One of the reasons that I chose to go into neuroscience, chose to go into psychiatry, was in 1986, the Nobel Prize was awarded for the discovery of neural growth factor. That pioneering work was done by some researchers whose lab was at my university, at Washington University. For the women in the audience, Rita Montalcini was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize in neural science.
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Depression And The Brain: A Depressed Brain Vs A Normal Brain
When most people think of depression, they think of the emotional and behavioral effects of depression.
Some people may even consider some of the physical effects like weight change or irregular sleep problems, but what many people tend to forget about is the connection between depression and the brain. Scientists have speculated for many years about what a depressed brain looks like and have found key differences between a depressed brain versus a normal brain.
The Difference Between a Depressed Brain vs. a Normal Brain
At Banyan Mental Health, our Boca mood and anxiety disorder treatment programs work with people who struggle with depression, and we are familiar with the many ways that this disorder can affect someone. Although our treatments focus on healing our patients mental health, the brain of someone with depression is not to be ignored.
When comparing a depressed brain versus a normal brain, scientists have found some subtle but important differences including grey matter abnormalities, brain shrinkage, and a more active amygdala in depressed brains.
Grey Matter Abnormalities
Grey matter in the brain refers to brain tissue that is made up of cell bodies and nerve cells. People with depression were shown to have thicker grey matter in parts of the brain involved in self-perception and emotions.1 This abnormality could be contributing to the problems someone with depression has in these areas.
More Active Amygdala
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What Causes Depression After Tbi
Many different factors contribute to depression after TBI, and these vary a great deal from person to person.
- Physical changes in the brain due to injury. Depression may result from injury to the areas of the brain that control emotions. Changes in the levels of certain natural chemicals in the brain, called neurotransmitters, can cause depression.
- Emotional response to injury. Depression can also arise as a person struggles to adjust to temporary or lasting disability, losses or role changes within the family and society.
- Factors unrelated to injury.Some people have a higher risk for depression due to inherited genes, personal or family history, and other influences that were present before the brain injury.