Physical Effects Of Depression On The Brain


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What Happens To The Brain During Depression

Understanding PTSD’s Effects on Brain, Body, and Emotions | Janet Seahorn | TEDxCSU

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.

Side Effects Of Medications

Side effects can occur from taking over-the-counter or prescription drugs. Although they are often minor and improve as the body acclimates to the drug, some side effects can be severe and persistent. Medications for treating depression may have side effects, some of which can be physical. Some of the common side effects of antidepressants include blurred vision, dizziness, fatigue, insomnia, nausea, trouble concentrating, sexual dysfunction, and dry mouth.

If it becomes hard to cope with the side effects of medications, the person may eventually stop using them. For those using medications to manage depression, the side effects of antidepressants can inhibit treatment. The mental and emotional side effects of antidepressants can be unpleasant and may suggest that drugs are not the right intervention for you. If, after starting antidepressants, you notice that the symptoms of anxiety and depression worsens, consult your medical professional immediately.

People Suffering From Depression Run The Risk That Their Brains Shrink And Will Remain Smaller After The Disease Is Over The Discovery Provides New Knowledge About The Brain And New Understanding Of How Antidepressants Work

A depression not only makes a person feel sad and dejected it can also damage the brain permanently, so the person has difficulties remembering and concentrating once the disease is over. Up to 20 percent of depression patients never make a full recovery.

These are the conclusions of two projects conducted by Professor Poul Videbech, a specialist in psychiatry at the Centre for Psychiatric Research at Aarhus University Hospital.

In one of the projects he scanned the brains of people suffering from depression, and in the other he conducted a systematic review of all the scientific literature on the subject.

My review shows that a depression leaves its mark on the brain as it results in a ten percent reduction of the hippocampus, he says. In some cases, this reduction continues when the depression itself is over.

Antidepressants can help

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Physical Effects Of Depression

The physical effects of depression impact the brain, heart and other parts of the body. Research shows that depression negatively affects the brain. A decrease in brain volume is one of the most disturbing side effects of depression. Fortunately, antidepressants appear to be able to reverse this brain volume loss.3

Depression and pain are also inter-related. You can read more about the pain of depression here.

Long-term depression is also known to negatively impact the heart. Depression causes inappropriate release of adrenaline which, over time, damages the cardiovascular system. An increase in artery and blood vessel stress are further health effects of depression. This can increase the risk of blood clots and heart attack.4

The effects of depression cause an overall increase in mortality, where those with depression may die 25 years sooner than the average person. This is thought to be due to both the physical and social side effects of depression.

Nature And Nurture In Mental Health


that, in turn, the question of whether ‘nature’ or ‘nurture’ influences an individual’s mental health is equally as challenging. Good mental health, the state of well-being in which every individual can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community, is hard to achieve for those who experience mental disorders. Mental disorders are health conditions that significantly affect how a person thinks, feels or behaves

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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.

Brain Shrinkage

More Active Amygdala

Meditation Depression And The Brain Mindful In Minutes Meditation

In this freeform episode Kelly dives into the science behind depression and how it impacts your brain, and how meditation can help to reverse these neurological changes and support you during depression, and finishes with her own personal tips for navigating depression.If you, or someone you know is struggling with depression here is a list of resources.Studies that were referenced in this episode are linked belowSara Lazar on how meditation changes the brainHow meditation helps with depression Physical effects of depression on the brainUnlock this episode and all old episodes ad free and intro free by becoming a subscriber- the new year with intention with the Ignite 2023 virtual retreat. Save your spot here and get instant access on 12/26Let’s get away!

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Do I Need Health Insurance To Receive This Service

The referral service is free of charge. If you have no insurance or are underinsured, we will refer you to your state office, which is responsible for state-funded treatment programs. In addition, we can often refer you to facilities that charge on a sliding fee scale or accept Medicare or Medicaid. If you have health insurance, you are encouraged to contact your insurer for a list of participating health care providers and facilities.

Heart Disease Research Paper

How stress affects your brain – Madhumita Murgia

Heart diseases are a long term effect that workaholics face due to the unhealthy lifestyle they have chosen.Many forms of heart disease can be prevented or treated with healthy lifestyle choices . There are several different types of heart diseases such as heart failure, heart attack, stroke, cardiac arrest and many more. Signs of different heart diseases are pain in the neck, upper abdomen or back, pain, numbness, weakness or coldness in their legs or arms, shortness of breath

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What Is Major Depression

Major depression, or major depressive disorder, is a mood disorder and mental illness that causes significantly and persistently low moods. More than just feeling down for a day or two, depression causes a bad mood that you cant shake for weeks. Some of the key symptoms and signs of depression are:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in activities you normally enjoy
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Anxiety, restlessness, frustration, or irritability
  • Feeling worthless, guilty, or ashamed
  • Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering
  • Thoughts of suicide and death

You may be diagnosed with depression if you have some of these symptoms for a couple weeks or longer, if they are severe enough to disrupt your normal functioning, and if they cannot be explained by substance abuse, medications, or an illness.

Onset Of Depression More Complex Than A Brain Chemical Imbalance

It’s often said that depression results from a chemical imbalance, but that figure of speech doesn’t capture how complex the disease is. Research suggests that depression doesn’t spring from simply having too much or too little of certain brain chemicals. Rather, there are many possible causes of depression, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, and stressful life events. It’s believed that several of these forces interact to bring on depression.

To be sure, chemicals are involved in this process, but it is not a simple matter of one chemical being too low and another too high. Rather, many chemicals are involved, working both inside and outside nerve cells. There are millions, even billions, of chemical reactions that make up the dynamic system that is responsible for your mood, perceptions, and how you experience life.

With this level of complexity, you can see how two people might have similar symptoms of depression, but the problem on the inside, and therefore what treatments will work best, may be entirely different.

This article will address the how different parts of the brain affect mood.

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Is Depression Caused By A Chemical Imbalance

The human brain is extremely complicated. Because antidepressants work by changing brain chemistry, some people have assumed that depression is caused by changes in brain chemistry which are then ‘corrected’ by the drugs. Some doctors may tell you that you have a ‘chemical imbalance’ and need medication to correct it.

But the evidence for this is very weak, and if changes to brain chemistry occur, we don’t know whether these are the result of the depression or its cause.

Treatment Can Counter Emotional Tolls

Physical Effects Of Depression On The Brain

Although persistent anxiety and depression are highly treatable with medications, cognitive behavioral therapy and talk therapy, without treatment these conditions tend to get worse. According to Dr. John Frownfelter, treatment for any condition works better when doctors understand the pressures patients face that affect their behavior and result in clinical harm.

Dr. Frownfelter is an internist and chief medical officer of a start-up called Jvion. The organization uses artificial intelligence to identify not just medical factors but psychological, social and behavioral ones as well that can impact the effectiveness of treatment on patients health. Its aim is to foster more holistic approaches to treatment that address the whole patient, body and mind combined.

The analyses used by Jvion, a Hindi word meaning life-giving, could alert a doctor when underlying depression might be hindering the effectiveness of prescribed treatments for another condition. For example, patients being treated for diabetes who are feeling hopeless may fail to improve because they take their prescribed medication only sporadically and dont follow a proper diet, Dr. Frownfelter said.

Some changes to medical care during the pandemic have greatly increased patient access to depression and anxiety treatment. The expansion of telehealth has enabled patients to access treatment by psychotherapists who may be as far as a continent away.

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Diagnosing And Treating Depression

There’s no physical test for depression.

If you experience depression symptoms most of the day, every day, for more than two weeks, you should visit your GP. This is especially important if:

  • you have symptoms of depression that aren’t getting any better
  • you have thoughts of self-harm or suicide
  • your work, relationships with friends and family, or interests are affected by your mood

It can be hard for people with depression to imagine that anything can help them but the sooner you seek help, the sooner the symptoms start to get better.

Your GP may examine you and perform blood or urine tests to make sure there isn’t another condition causing your depression symptoms, like an underactive thyroid.

When you see your GP, they’ll try to find out if you have depression by asking you questions. These are likely to be about your health, how you’re feeling, and how that is affecting you mentally and physically.

Telling your doctor your symptoms and the affect they are having on you will help your GP to tell if you have depression, and how severe the condition is. It’s important to be as open as possible.

Your conversation with your GP will be confidential. This rule can only be broken if your GP thinks there is a significant risk of harm to you or others, and that telling a family member or carer would make that risk lower.

For Many Years People Thought That Antidepressants Worked Primarily Because They Affected The Neurotransmitter Serotonin But The Latest Research Indicates That Antidepressants Influence Neurogenesis By Starting The Formation Of New Nerve Cells

Professor Poul Videbech

While depression can have serious consequences for the patient, Videbech says there is hope as the brain can be forced to heal itself in many cases.

Treatment with antidepressants and electroshock seem to be able to start the formation of new nerve cells, so areas that have shrunk can be built up again. Videbech expects that future studies will document the same effects with psychotherapy.

Studies at the Centre for Psychiatric Research, where people suffering from depression have been followed for more than ten years through brain scans, certainly show that shrinking of the hippocampus is reversible if the depression is treated.

Experience from own practice

Videbech started his studies after he had diagnosed and treated many depression patients at the hospital. A symptom typical of the disease is difficulty in concentrating and remembering.

The Hippocampus , is a convolution of the brain, located in the medial temporal lobe. The hippocampus is important for our short-term memory.

But he discovered that the symptoms often continued when the patient had officially recovered.

Their symptoms were very uncomfortable, at times crippling, and after I had heard the same story many times I started wondering about the cause,. So I started scanning their brains.

Studied all the literature

The discovery came as something of a surprise, and Videbech thought that other researchers may have made the same discovery in recent years.

Stem cells form new nerve cells

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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.

Sleep Disturbances And Emotional Issues

Depression Is Not Caused by a Chemical Imbalance

The cortisol influx caused by depression can cause your amygdala to enlarge, increasing its activity. Since it helps control your emotions, damage to your amygdala can throw your emotions off balance. You may experience uncontrollable mood fluctuations as a result, causing you to experience both negative and positive emotions very intensely.

An enlarged amygdala doesnt just impede your emotional health and your mood stability its increased activity can also cause other issues, like sleep issues and disturbances. Sleep deprivation, in turn, can worsen your overreactions to stimuli. Poor sleep also causes you to develop a more negative mood and mindset, which can cause your depression to worsen.

Since this creates a feedback loop, issues with your amygdala can be one of the most dangerous things about major depressive disorder.

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Effects Of Depression On The Central Nervous System

Depression can cause a lot of symptoms within the central nervous system, many of which are easy to dismiss or ignore.

Older adults may also have difficulty identifying cognitive changes because its easy to dismiss the signs of depression as related to getting older.

According to the American Psychological Association, older adults with depression have more difficulties with memory loss and reaction time during everyday activities compared with younger adults with depression.

Symptoms of depression include overwhelming sadness, grief, and a sense of guilt. It may be described as a feeling of emptiness or hopelessness. Some people may find it difficult to put these feelings into words.

It may also be difficult for them to understand as symptoms can manifest and cause physical reactions. Frequent episodes of crying may be a symptom of depression, although not everyone cries if theyre depressed.

You may also feel tired all the time or have trouble sleeping at night. Other symptoms include:

  • loss of interest in things that used to bring pleasure

There may also be chronic body aches, and the pain may not respond to medication. This is also sometimes an effect of certain neurological diseases, like Alzheimers disease, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis.

People with depression may have trouble maintaining a typical work schedule or fulfilling social obligations. This could be due to symptoms like an inability to concentrate, memory problems, and difficulty making decisions.

How Does Depression Affect The Body

Your brain is a swarm of activity. It sends signals between various regions of the brain that control your mood, emotions, and your bodys regular healthy functions. These signals are neurotransmitters. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter most associated with mood. Its commonly believed that when levels of this hormone drop, it puts you at risk for depression and various mood and emotional problems. Besides balancing mood and emotions, serotonin also helps regulate things like sleep, mood, bone health, and sex drive.3Serotonin may be best known as a brain chemical, but it travels throughout the body, in the bloodstream.4

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