The 4 Major Ways Depression Effects On Brain

Feeling down isn’t depression. You may experience a physical change in your brain. Because depression effects on brain.

It can affect your thoughts, feelings, and actions. These changes aren’t understood by experts. Inflammation, genetics, and stress might also play a role.

You should seek help if you are depressed. You become more and more damaged over time as a result of repeat episodes. If you seek treatment early, you may be able to avoid or alleviate some of the following problems.

In 2016, 16.2 million Americans experienced a major depressive episode.

Depression can affect a person physically as well as psychologically. Inflammation, oxygen restriction, and shrinkage are all examples of physical changes. Depression can affect your nervous system’s central control center.

Here is information on how depression can change the brain, and what you can do to prevent it from occurring.

Find more about: Depression and its types

Brain shrinkage

Effects on brain
Effects on brain

Recent research indicates that depression can impact the size of specific brain regions.

Depression can shrink specific brain regions, but how much shrinkage may occur is still being debated by researchers. But current studies indicate that these areas of the brain may be affected:

  • Hippocampus
  • Thalamus
  • Amygdala
  • Frontal
  • Prefrontal cortices

Depressive episodes last for an extended period of time and shrink these areas accordingly.

For example, hippocampus changes can be seen anywhere from eight months to a year during a single episode of depression or a series of shorter episodes. The brain functions linked to a certain section shrink together when a part of it shrinks.

As an example, the prefrontal cortex and amygdala work together to regulate our feelings and recognize others’ feelings. People who suffer from postpartum depression (PPD) may be unable to empathize as much.

Brain inflammation

Inflammation and depression are also being linked in new ways. Depression may cause inflammation or inflammation may cause depression.

Although depression is associated with brain inflammation, the duration of depression is also tied to the occurrence of inflammation in the brain. People who have been depressed for over ten years suffer from 30 percent more inflammation than those who have been depressed for three or fewer years.

As a result, persistent depressive disorder exhibits significant brain inflammation.

Inflammation of the brain can cause the brain’s cells to die, which can result in a variety of complications, including:

  • Shrinkage (explained above)
  • Neurotransmitter function is decreased
  • Age-related reduction in brain plasticity (neuroplasticity)

These dysfunctions can be caused by:

  • Brain development
  • Learning
  • Memory
  • Mood

Oxygen restriction

Oxygen deficiency is associated with depression. Depression may cause these changes in breathing, but it is unclear which cause and which comes first.

People with major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder have elevated levels of a cellular factor generated in response to a lack of oxygen in the brain (hypoxia).

A reduction in oxygen in the brain can lead to:

  • Inflammation
  • Brain cell injury
  • Brain cell death

Our study has shown that inflammation and cell death can lead to various symptoms that affect development, memory, and mood. Hypoxia even experienced temporarily can lead to confusion, as witnessed by high-altitude hikers.

Researchers have found that hyperbaric oxygen therapy can help alleviate depression symptoms in humans.

Also, check: Side Effects of Overthinking

Structural and connective changes

Depression also affects the brain’s structure and connective tissue.

Some of these include:

  • Symptoms of reduced hippocampal function. This can lead to memory loss.
  • Prefrontal cortex function is reduced. As a result, the person can be prevented from completing tasks (executive function) and have trouble paying attention.
  • Amygdala function is reduced. Mood and emotional regulation can be directly affected by this.

It typically takes at least eight months for changes to be introduced.

Several factors contribute to persistent dysfunction in memory, executive functioning, mood, attention, and emotional regulation after longer bouts of depression.

What can I do to prevent these changes?

The steps above can also serve as a way to prevent or minimize the changes listed above since there are various ways to treat the symptoms of depression.

Some examples are:

Getting help to prevent depression effects on brain

Asking for help is very important. In particular, the stigma surrounding mental illness prevents many people from seeking help.

We can help society move away from the stigma associated with depression if we understand that it is a physical disease, as we’ve discussed above.

Whenever you feel depressed, remember that you are not alone and that it is not your fault.

The use of cognitive and group therapy, particularly those that incorporate stress-relieving mindfulness techniques, can be an excellent way of overcoming stigma and finding support. Even depression symptoms have been treated with them.

Recommended: Multiple Strategies To Control Overthinking

Taking antidepressants

You may wish to consider antidepressants if you’re suffering from a depressive episode. Including them in your treatment plan can be beneficial for reducing these physical side effects, as well as depression.

It is possible to treat both your physical symptoms and your depression with a combination of psychotherapy and antidepressants.

Stress reduction

If you are not depressed, preventing the onset of a depressive episode is the best way to avoid these brain changes. Psychological stress has been linked to many forms of depression, including major depression.

If you want to help someone reduce their stress level, just asking them to do so may seem impossible or overwhelming, but there are fairly simple things you can do. You are not alone if you’re depressed, and there are a lot of resources out there to help you. Take a look at:

NAMI HelpLine

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