Where Do Emotions Come From
The limbic system is a group of interconnected structures located deep within the brain. Its the part of the brain thats responsible for behavioral and emotional responses.
Scientists havent reached an agreement about the full list of structures that make up the limbic system, but the following structures are generally accepted as part of the group:
- Hypothalamus. In addition to controlling emotional responses, the hypothalamus is also involved in sexual responses, hormone release, and regulating body temperature.
- Hippocampus. The hippocampus helps preserve and retrieve memories. It also plays a role in how you understand the spatial dimensions of your environment.
- Amygdala. The amygdala helps coordinate responses to things in your environment, especially those that trigger an emotional response. This structure plays an important role in fear and anger.
- Limbic cortex. This part contains two structures, the cingulate gyrus and the parahippocampal gyrus. Together, they impact mood, motivation, and judgement.
Depression Reduces White Matter In The Brain
A group of researchers from the University of Edinburgh, in the United Kingdom, conducted a study that was later published in Scientific Reports. The experts concluded that the white matter of the brain decreases in people who have depression.
The scientists used a group of 3,461 adults as their basis. Some of them had symptoms of depression, others had been diagnosed with that disease and some more had a stable mood. They all had MRI scans.
The results showed that people who were depressed, or with symptoms of depression, had less white matter in the brain. This is in charge of coordinating communication between the different systems of the human body and between the different areas of the brain.
What Part Of The Brain Controls Fear
From a biological standpoint, fear is a very important emotion. It helps you respond appropriately to threatening situations that could harm you.
This response is generated by stimulation of the amygdala, followed by the hypothalamus. This is why some people with brain damage affecting their amygdala dont always respond appropriately to dangerous scenarios.
When the amygdala stimulates the hypothalamus, it initiates the fight-or-flight response. The hypothalamus sends signals to the adrenal glands to produce hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol.
As these hormones enter the bloodstream, you might notice some physical changes, such as an increase in:
- heart rate
- blood sugar
In addition to initiating the fight-or-flight response, the amygdala also plays a role in fear learning. This refers to the process by which you develop an association between certain situations and feelings of fear.
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A Long Road To Understanding Depression
For years and years, doctors and researchers assumed that depression stemmed from an abnormality within these neurotransmitters, particularly serotonin or norepinephrine. But over time, these two neurotransmitters did not seem to account for the symptoms associated with major depression. As a result, doctors began to look elsewhere.
The search proved fruitful. There are chemical messengers, which include glutamate and GABA, between the nerve cells in the higher centers of the brain involved in regulating mood and emotion, says John Krystal, MD, chair of Yales Department of Psychiatry, noting that these may be alternative causes for the symptoms of depression.
These two are the brains most common neurotransmitters. They regulate how the brain changes and develops over a lifetime. When a person experiences chronic stress and anxiety, some of these connections between nerve cells break apart. As a result, communication between the affected cells becomes noisy, according to Dr. Krystal. And its this noise, along with the overall loss of connections, that many believe contribute to the biology of depression.
There are clear differences between a healthy brain and a depressed brain, Dr. Katz says. And the exciting thing is, when you treat that depression effectively, the brain goes back to looking like a healthy brain.
In this video, Drs. Katz and Krystal explain how depression affects the brain.
Can Brain Changes Be Reversed
Knowing how does depression affect the brain is important, but it is equally important to know if you can reverse those changes. Fortunately, it is possible to reverse those changes with the help of proper treatment for depression.
1. Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise improves mental health by boosting the production of “feel good” hormones and normalizing insulin resistance in the body. It also helps boost neurotransmitters that are directly associated with mood control, such as serotonin, endorphins, glutamate, dopamine, and GABA . You can also eliminate stress chemicals through regular exercise. Moreover, it helps increase the volume of gray matter in hippocampus, which can improve the brain’s ability to produce new cells, thus reversing the damage done to your hippocampus.
2. Pay Attention to Your Diet
How does depression affect the brain? Now you know the answer, then how to reverse the brain changes? What you eat can affect the way your brain works. If you are already under stress, eating wrong types of foods is only going to make matters worse. Many people tend to overeat when they are depressed, so you need to keep an eye on how much you eat. Include foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, and some best choices are tuna and salmon. Similarly, foods that contain folic acid such as avocado and spinach may also help ease depression.
3. Get Enough Sleep
4. Do Not Ignore Your Responsibilities
5. Overcome Negative Thoughts
6. Keep Yourself Busy
Also Check: What Percent Of The Population Has Depression
How To Get Help
Tell your doctor if you have symptoms of depression. Theyâll want to rule out other health conditions so they can find you the right treatment. You might need to make some lifestyle changes, take medicine, or talk to a mental health specialist. Some people benefit from a mix of all three.
Some treatments for mild or serious depression include:
- Healthy diet change
Suicide is a serious symptom of depression. Get help right away if youâre thinking about hurting yourself. You can reach someone at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Theyâre available anytime, day or night.
Molecular Psychiatry: âSubcortical brain alterations in major depressive disorder: findings from the ENIGMA Major Depressive Disorder working group.â
Translational Psychiatry: âProfound and reproducible patterns of reduced regional gray matter characterize major depressive disorder.â
Neural Plasticity: âThe Role of Neural Plasticity in Depression: From Hippocampus to Prefrontal Cortex.â
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America : âDepression, antidepressants, and the shrinking hippocampus.â
Frontiers in Immunology: âThe Role of Inflammation in Depression and Fatigue.â
The Lancet Psychiatry: âMicroglia and major depression: not yet a clear picture,â âAssociation of translocator protein total distribution volume with duration of untreated major depressive disorder: a cross-sectional study.â
Neurophysiological Imaging In Major Depressive And Bipolar Disorders
Many of the regions in which structural abnormalities are evident in mood disorders also contain abnormalities of blood flow and glucose metabolism . In most of these structures, and particularly those that form the extended visceromotor network, the metabolic activity measured under resting conditions appears increased in the depressed phase relative to the remitted phase of MDD. This pattern of differences were shown by longitudinal studies of depressed patients imaged before vs after treatment , and of remitted patients scanned before vs during depressive relapse .
In a similar manner, some other abnormalities in physiological activity in the amygdala and other structures appear specific to clinically defined subtypes of mood disorders. For example, in the amygdala, resting metabolism was elevated in subjects classified as BD-depressed, familial pure depressive disease , melancholic subtype, or responsive to a night of total sleep deprivation . However, other MDD subgroups have not shown elevated resting metabolic activity in the amygdala, raising the possibility this abnormality is associated with specific illness subtypes or manifestations such as cortisol hypersecretion .
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Understanding The Depression Neurotransmitters Working Inside Your Brain
Reviewed by Heather Cashell, LCSW
Humans have studied the brain for thousands of years, and while weve learned so much about how it works, theres still so much left to understand. Since the brain controls nearly everything we do, its only right that we look to the brain when our bodies feel out-of-whack.
Things are no different when talking about depression. With what we know today, the symptoms of depression are heavily linked to deficiencies in the brain and other parts of the body. In terms of brain activity, the deficiencies are generally linked to neurotransmitters in the brain.
These neurotransmitters are the real bread and butter when it comes to an understanding of how the brain works, how it communicates with itself, and how it communicates with the rest of the body. A deeper understanding of neurotransmitters is essential when understanding the brain.
So, what is a neurotransmitter? And Depression Neurotransmitters? And Depression Neurotransmitters?
Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers inside the brain that allow neurons to communicate with one another. This communication is one reason we feel pleasure, pain, confusion, a loss of memory, a loss of motor skills, and so much more.
There are nearly 90 billion neurons located inside the brain, and theyre all important to the brain’s function. The neurons are connected to one another through synapses, which are the spaces in-between each neuron.
Neuroimaging Abnormalities In Mood Disorders
Although MDD and BD constitute the first and fifth leading causes of years lived with disability, respectively , little is known about their pathogenesis. As these conditions are not associated with gross brain pathology, or with clear animal models for spontaneous recurrent mood episodes, the development of tools that allowed noninvasive assessment of human brain structure and function has proven critical to elucidating their neurobiology. Thus, the development of neuroimaging methods for in vivo characterization of the anatomical, physiological, and neurochemical correlates of mood disorders has enabled significant advances toward elucidating their pathophysiology.
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What Happens To The Brain During Depression
Mental health conditions like depression can change your brain chemistry. If you want to have a better grasp on your mental state and what kind of treatment you need, you must understand how your brain reacts to depression.
In this overview, we cover key health information on the effects of depression on your brain and how these translate to changes in both mental and physical health.
Reliable Identification Of Major Depression
In this study, 100% of 24 depressed patients and 89.7% of 29 healthy control subjects were correctly classified by the linear support vector machine classifier, corresponding to an accuracy of 94.3%. Recently, several brain imaging studies have attempted to distinguish depressed patients from healthy controls . However, to the best of our knowledge, no previous studies have achieved such a high level of classification accuracy, considering the sample size. Thus, we believe that this classifier detected the reliable population differences between depressed patients and healthy controls . Furthermore, choosing the generalization rate as the statistic, the statistical significance of the observed classification accuracies was estimated by permutation testing. The results demonstrate that the linear support vector machine classifier learned the relationship between the data and the labels with a probability of being wrong of < 0.0001. In other words, this multivariate pattern analysis method reliably captured the disorder-related resting-state functional connectivity patterns.
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Cortical Projections To Hypothalamus And Brainstem
As mentioned above, there are substantial outputs from the medial prefrontal network to the hypothalamus, the periaqueductal gray, and other visceral control centers. . There is some degree of organization within this system, such that the subgenual cortex provides the heaviest projection, which terminates in both the medial and lateral hypothalamus, and in both dorsolateral and ventrolateral columns of the PAG, while the fibers from the lateral part of the medical network are restricted to the lateral hypothalamus, and the ventrolateral PAG . The origin of this projection extends beyond the medial prefrontal network to include the STGr and STSd, and area 9 in the dorsal prefrontal cortex, both of which are strongly connected to the medial network. Older reports indicate that electrical stimulation of the medial network areas produces disturbances in functions such as heart rate and respiration , and recent fMRI studies have shown that activity in the medial prefrontal cortex correlates with visceral activation in response to emotional or even non-emotional stimuli.
Residential Treatment Provides A Space To Heal
One of the most important reasons to choose residential care for depression treatment is that it gives you the space, the time, and the opportunity to truly focus on healing. There are no distractions of home, work, and other responsibilities, only a safe place to get better. The damage that depression has done to your brain and body can be slowed, stopped, and even reversed with good care.
The most effective treatment for depression is a combination of therapy and medications, both of which take time to work. This is another reason that residential treatment is a smart choice for depression care. It gives you time to develop a rapport with a therapist and to make positive changes. It also gives you a chance to try one or more antidepressants to find the medication that will adjust your brain chemicals in just the right way for maximum impact with fewest side effects.
Getting relief from depression through treatment will immediately begin to help your brain, reversing the shrinking of certain areas, the inflammation, and the overflow of cortisol. This in turn will help you feel better overall, and you will begin to get relief for the physical symptoms.
Bridges to Recovery offers comprehensive treatment for people struggling with mental health disorders as well as co-occurring substance use disorders. Contact us to learn more about our renowned Los Angeles-based program and how we can help you or your loved one start on the path to lasting wellness.
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First How Common Is Anxiety
Anxiety is so much more prevalent in the United States today than is recognized. Currently over 40 million Americans suffer from some form of anxiety EVERYDAY. Anxiety is the experience of environmental stressors which is marked by continued excessive worry, feeling nervous or on edge, sleep abnormalities, difficulty concentrating, emotional swings, fatigue, gastrointestinal upset, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and restlessness. Anxiety is not only stressful emotionally, but overtime can be very stressful physically on the brain and body.
Awareness of how anxiety can affect quality of life for both the individual experiencing the anxiety and the loved ones around them is extremely important. Anxiety is very treatable, even without medication, yet only less than 40% of those with anxiety are treated successfully and with the right approach.
Single Brain Region Links Depression And Anxiety Heart Disease And Treatment Sensitivity
- University of Cambridge
- Over-activity in a single brain region called the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex underlies several key symptoms of mood and anxiety disorders, but an antidepressant only successfully treats some of the symptoms. A new study suggests that sgACC is a crucial region in depression and anxiety, and targeted treatment based on a patient’s symptoms could lead to better outcomes.
Over-activity in a single brain region called the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex underlies several key symptoms of mood and anxiety disorders, but an antidepressant only successfully treats some of the symptoms. A new study, published today in the journal Nature Communications, suggests that sgACC is a crucial region in depression and anxiety, and targeted treatment based on a patient’s symptoms could lead to better outcomes.
Depression is a debilitating disorder affecting hundreds of millions of people worldwide, but people experience it differently. Some mainly have symptoms of elevated negative emotion like guilt and anxiety some have a loss of ability to experience pleasure and others a mix of the two.
Using marmosets, a type of non-human primate, the team of researchers infused tiny concentrations of an excitatory drug into sgACC to over-activate it. Marmosets are used because their brains share important similarities with those of humans and it is possible to manipulate brain regions to understand causal effects.
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How To Treat And Prevent Depression Naturally
Since individuals with depression are seen to face a steeper cognitive decline in later years, it is advantageous to treat depressive symptoms right away. The longer your brain is exposed to the chemicals changes and stress associated with depression, the more cognition will fade.
Outside of therapy and medications for major depressive disorders, there are things you can do to fight feelings of depression. Improving your mood will be the best way to keep your brain young.
How Does The Brain Work
The brain sends and receives chemical and electrical signals throughout the body. Different signals control different processes, and your brain interprets each. Some make you feel tired, for example, while others make you feel pain.
Some messages are kept within the brain, while others are relayed through the spine and across the bodys vast network of nerves to distant extremities. To do this, the central nervous system relies on billions of neurons .
Increasing Our Understanding Of Brain Structure
All of these brain changes can be a lot to take in, especially when they involve some long, scientific, words that are totally new to us. It can sound really scary and overwhelming.
The good news is, that the more we understand whats going on, the more we can do about it. An increased understanding of the specific chains of events and mechanisms involved in depression allows researchers to create more specific treatments with better outcomes.
Researchers are also hopeful that learning about how depression can alter our brain structure will help to reduce the amount of stigma that some people hold when it comes to depression because theyll be able to see how it physically affects our body.
A lot of hope can be placed in the knowledge that science is advancing all of the time.
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