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What Does Depression Do To The Brain

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How Do Brain Networks Produce Major Depression

How Your Brain Works When You’re Depressed | Better | NBC News

Psychologically, hallmarks of major depression include the overemphasis placed on negative events and emotions , and the state of anhedonia . Together, these factors conspire to make the depressed subject feel as though everything is terrible and that nothing is really worth doing. Two important brain regions for this are the amygdala, for negative emotions, and the nucleus accumbens, for pleasure .

What Type Of Meditation Is Best For Depression

Studies have shown that mindfulness meditation may reduce depression, as well as anxiety and stress. The Society for Integrative Oncology recommends using mindfulness meditation to ease depression and anxiety in cancer patients, and studies have even documented ways in which mindfulness changes the brain.

Temporal Aspects Of Depression And Drug Strategies

Not only are there different subtypes of depression, but the disease too has a temporal aspect that is not well understood. Some people experience depression for short periods of time, and others can be depressed for years. In a new study published April 11, 2019 in Science, Liston and his lab looked at the neurobiological mechanisms underlying the induction and remission of depressive episodes.

For this project, the researchers relied on mouse models and optogenetic tools. What we set out to do was follow, track, and quantify the remodeling of synapses in the living brain, using advanced imaging methods in mice, says Liston. The researchers tracked these synapses in real-time, watching how they were affected by stress and antidepressants.

Going into the study, Liston knew that antidepressants increased synapse connections. The connection between depression and synapse loss and formation, however, was unclear. The question the researchers wanted to answer was this: Are the two causally involved or merely correlated?

Working with Haruo Kasai and Haruhiko Bitocollaborators at the University of Tokyo who developed optogenetic tools for deleting new synapsesListons work was able to show that new synapses are required for sustaining antidepressant behavioral effects and maintaining remission over time. Interestingly, however, the synapses were not necessary to induce behavioral changes initially.

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How Depression Affects The Brain

When we think about depression, what comes to mind are feelings and emotions or, for some, the absence of feelings and emotions. In order to really understand depression, however, its important to be aware that the condition has physical aspects as well. Most people understand what depression looks like on the outside, in terms of a persons behavior, but our medical understanding of the actual progression of the disease and its treatments continues to evolve.

What we know right now is that, on a chemical level, depression involves neurotransmitters, which can be thought of as the messengers that carry signals between brain cells, or neurons.

The current standard of care for the treatment of depression is based on what we call the monoamine deficiency hypothesis, essentially presuming that one of three neurotransmitters in the brain is deficient or underactive, says Rachel Katz, MD, a Yale Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry.

But according to Dr. Katz, this is only part of the story. There are about 100 types of neurotransmitters overall, and billions of connections between neurons in each persons brain.

There remains much to learn.

How Do Antidepressants Work

TMS Therapy

The nerve cells in our brain use various chemicals to pass on signals. Even though not all details are known, experts believe that is caused by an imbalance of certain chemical messengers like serotonin, which means that signals can’t be passed along the nerves properly. Antidepressants aim to increase the availability of these chemicals. The various drugs do that in different ways.

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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.

Effects Of Depression On The Digestive System

While depression is often thought of as a mental health condition, it also plays a heavy role in appetite and nutrition. Some people cope by overeating or bingeing. This can lead to weight gain and obesity-related conditions like type 2 diabetes.

You may even lose your appetite entirely or fail to eat the right amount of nutritious food. A sudden loss of interest in eating in older adults can lead to a condition called geriatric anorexia.

Eating problems can lead to symptoms that include:

Medication may not improve these symptoms if a person doesnt eat the correct diet. Sweets and foods high in carbohydrates may provide immediate relief, but the effects are often temporary.

higher risk of developing atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease for a period of 10 years. Younger people 20-39 years old have a higher lifetime risk of developing CVD.

Depression and stress may also have a negative impact on the immune system, making you more vulnerable to infections and diseases.

Research shows there may be a relationship between inflammation and depression, although the exact connection is unclear.

Inflammation is linked to many health problems. Some anti-inflammatory agents have been shown to benefit some people with depression.

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What Are The Side Effects Of Antidepressants

Like all medications, antidepressants can have side effects. Over half of all people who take antidepressants have side effects. They usually occur during the first few weeks of treatment and are less common later on.

Some of these side effects are believed to be a direct consequence of the medication’s effect on the brain and are relatively similar among various drugs within the same group. Examples include a dry mouth, headaches, dizziness, restlessness and sexual problems. These kinds of problems are often perceived to be side effects of the medications. But some of them may be caused by the itself.

Whether or not someone has side effects, which side effects they have, and how frequent they are will depend on the drug, the dose used, and whether they have just started taking it or have been taking it for some time. And everyone reacts slightly differently to drugs too. The risk of side effects increases if you are also taking other medication. One of the drugs may make the side effects of the other worse. These kinds of drug interactions are common in older people and people with chronic illnesses who are taking several different kinds of medication.

For this reason, it’s important to thoroughly discuss the pros and cons of the various medications with your doctor.

Some side effects are more common with particular drugs:

How Does Depression Affect The Brain

How Depression Affects The Brain – Yale Medicine Explains

Depression can result in negative emotions, overreactions, reduced intellectual abilities, and a general sense of feeling down. These symptoms can range from mild to severe with suicidal thoughts occurring in the most critical of diagnoses. All of these are just symptoms of depression, however. The underlying issues, and important areas of study regarding this disorder, have more to do with the actual changes depression can cause to the brain. Here, well explore an answer to the question how does depression affect the brain?

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Depression And Anxiety Often Occur Together

SAD is an intense fear or anxiety of being judged or rejected in a social situation. The symptoms can be so debilitating that normal life becomes very difficult.

People with SAD struggle to find and keep friends and partners. There are around 15 million adults with SAD in the U.S.

It is not unusual for people diagnosed with depression to also have an anxiety disorder, and the other way around. Nearly half of people diagnosed with depression are also found to have an anxiety disorder.

Dr. Zhao explains that MDD and SAD also have some clinical symptoms in common that might suggest that they share some brain mechanisms. However, she notes that few studies have looked for similarities or differences in brain structure of people affected by MDD and SAD.

In their study, they found that the MDD and SAD patients had similar and different alterations in the thickness of parts of the cortex. Some of the alterations related to a thickening, while others to a thinning, of the affected region.

For example, both conditions showed differences in the salience and dorsal attention networks compared with the healthy controls. These two networks comprise brain regions that help to decide what we pay attention to and focus on from the wealth of stimuli around us.

Another area of the cortex, the insular cortex, a region that is important for perception and self-awareness, also appeared to be thicker in both the MDD and SAD patients compared with the controls.

Depression Treatments On The Horizon

Researchers are studying other molecular pathways in the brain to see their role in depression. It may be that rather than a simple deficiency in one specific brain chemical being the causative factor, some depression symptoms could be related to the relative levels of each type of neurotransmitter in different brain regions.

Rather than being a simple equation of some unknown factor causing low levels of one or more neurotransmitters and these low levels creating the symptoms of depression, the actual basis of depression is much more complex.

While this complexity is often evident to people living with depression, medical professionals and researchers are still trying to understand the intricate nature of diagnosing and treating the condition.

For example, in addition to the role of neurotransmitters, we know there are multiple factors involved in causing depression ranging from genetic factors and childhood experiences to our present day-to-day lives and relationships. Even inflammation is being explored as a potential contributing factor.

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Depression Getting The Right Diagnosis

Listons research is concerned with figuring out what exactly is going on inside the brain during depression. Traditionally, psychiatrists have diagnosed mental disorders in patients by adding up a number of symptomsbased on a version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders first developed in the 1970s. While this diagnostic system has been the foundation to psychiatry for years and has been of great benefit to patients and their doctors, Liston says that it, too, has become a hindrance to scientific progress in the field.

For example, patients with varying symptoms receive the same catchall diagnosis. With depression, many symptoms contain opposites. It stands to reason that someone who comes to me in my office describing four hours of sleep, anxiety, and weight loss does not have the same biological problem as someone who is describing the opposite symptoms of 20 hours sleep and weight gain, says Liston. These two people are opposites in so many ways and yet they get the same diagnostic label and treatments. It’s fortuitous and surprising that our existing treatments work as well as they do.

How Is Depression Related To Anxiety

Physical Effects Of Depression On The Brain

Depression and anxiety are considered two faces of the same coin. Both involve brooding over experiencein depression, things that happened in the past in anxiety, things that might happen in the future. Depression is also thought to result from sustained anxiety. More than half of all people with major depression also suffer from persistent anxiety. The two conditions share many symptoms, including insomnia, difficulty concentrating, negative thinking, and loss of appetite. Many treatments that relieve depression also relieve anxiety.

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Depression Causes Physical Symptoms

Depression affects much more than moods. These are a few of the most common physical symptoms of depression:

  • Increased aches and pains, which occur in about two out of three people with depression
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Insomnia, lack of deep sleep, or oversleeping

What causes these symptoms of depression? Changes in the brain have an effect on many of the body’s systems. For example, abnormal functioning of brain messengers such as serotonin can alter your pain threshold. This means you become more sensitive to pain, especially back pain. Serotonin also affects sleep and lowers sex drive — nearly half of everybody with depression has problems with sex.

Unfortunately, individuals with depression, as well as their families and health care professionals, often overlook the physical signs and symptoms of depression. In one case, researchers found that sleep troubles, fatigue, and worries about health are reliable indicators of depression in older adults. But, they found, these signs are routinely and incorrectly dismissed as a natural part of aging.

Study Reveals What Depression Anxiety Look Like In The Brain

People with depression and social anxiety have some common and specific structural abnormalities in their brains that can be spotted in imaging scans.

This was the major finding of a study from Sichuan University in Chengdu in China, which features this week at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago, IL.

The researchers Dr. Youjin Zhao and co-author Dr. Su Lui came to their conclusions after examining high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging brain scans of 37 people with major depressive disorder , 24 with social anxiety disorder , and 41 people in good health .

They looked for differences in the gray matter of the brain, focusing specifically on the thickness of the cerebral cortex, a of tissue that is densely packed with neurons and deals with most of the brains information processing.

MDD, commonly referred to as depression, is a serious medical illness characterized by persistent sadness and irritability. It is a leading cause of disease and injury worldwide.

Depression causes people to lose interest in things that they used to enjoy and find fulfilling in some cases, the illness is so severe that it can be an enormous struggle just to get out of bed. It damages not only the individuals affected but also their families, friends, and communities.

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Of The Best Duvet Covers That Add Style To Your Bed

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.

Is There A Dark Side To Meditation

Your Brain on Depression: Neuroscience, Animated

Willoughby Britton, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University agrees, noting that the potential negative effects of meditationincluding fear, panic, hallucinations, mania, loss of motivation and memory, and depersonalizationcan be distressing at best and debilitating at worst.

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How Does Loneliness Lead To Depression

Loneliness assaults the body and mind in multiple ways. By itself, it is felt as a major stress, and is linked to the release of stress hormones, which are known to impair such brain operations as learning and memory retrieval. Whats more, loneliness magnifies the perception of all other stresses. It diminishes functioning of the immune system and readily leads to inflammation, a known pathway to depression.

The emotional discomfort of loneliness makes us feel sad, and sadness saps our energy and slows functioning of all body systems. Companionship is such a powerful buffer to all human difficulty that loneliness is said to have even more of a detrimental effect on health than cigarette smoking.

Brain Regions And Mood

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.

Increasingly sophisticated forms of brain imaging such as positron emission tomography , single-photon emission computed tomography , and functional magnetic resonance imaging permit a much closer look at the working brain than was possible in the past. An fMRI scan, for example, can track changes that take place when a region of the brain responds during various tasks. A PET or SPECT scan can map the brain by measuring the distribution and density of neurotransmitter receptors in certain areas.

Use of this technology has led to a better understanding of which brain regions regulate mood and how other functions, such as memory, may be affected by depression. Areas that play a significant role in depression are the amygdala, the thalamus, and the hippocampus .

Figure 1: Areas of the brain involved with depression

The regions shown here are mirrored in both hemispheres of the brain. Also, these structures are interlocking the illustration suggests relative position but not precise location.

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