It’s estimated that 16.2 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in 2016.
While depression can affect a person psychologically, it also has the potential to affect physical structures in the brain. These physical changes range from inflammation and oxygen restriction, to actual shrinking.
In short, depression can impact the central control center of your nervous system.
For those interested in learning more about how depression can affect the physical brain, and ways to potentially avoid these changes, we’ve laid it all out for you.
1. Brain shrinkage
The latest research shows that the size of specific brain regions can decrease in people who experience depression.
Researchers continue to debate which regions of the brain can shrink due to depression and by how much. But current studies have shown that the following parts of the brain can be affected:
- prefrontal cortices
The amount these areas shrink is linked to the severity and length the depressive episode lasts.
In the hippocampus, for example, noticeable changes can occur anywhere from 8 months to a yearTrusted Source during a single bout of depression or multiple, shorter episodes.
That said, when a section of the brain shrinks, so do the functions associated with that particular section.
For instance, the prefrontal cortex and amygdala work together to control emotional responses and the recognition of emotional cues in other people. This can potentially contribute to a reduction in empathy in individuals who have postpartum depression (PPD).
2. Structural and connective changes
The effects of depression on the brain also can result in structural and connective changes.
Reduced functionality of the hippocampus: This can result in memory impairment.
Reduced functionality of the prefrontal cortex: This can result in preventing the person from getting things done (executive function) and affect their attention.
Reduced functionality of the amygdala: This can directly affect mood and emotional regulation.
Changes typically take a minimum of eight monthsTrusted Source to develop.
The potential for persisting dysfunction in memory, executive function, attention, mood, and emotional regulation does exist after bouts of longer-lasting depression.
3. Brain inflammation
There are also new links being made between inflammation and depression. It’s still not clear, however, whether inflammation causes depression or vice versa.
But brain inflammation during depression is linked to the amount of time a person has been depressed. One recent studyTrusted Source showed that people depressed for more than 10 years showed 30 percent more inflammation compared to people depressed for less time.
As a result, significant brain inflammation is more likely to be relevant in persistent depressive disorder.
Because brain inflammation can cause the cells of the brain to die, this can lead to a number of complications, including:
- shrinkage (discussed above)
- decreased function of neurotransmitters
- reduced ability of the brain to change as the person ages (neuroplasticity)
Together these can lead to dysfunctions in:
- brain development
For More information to visit our Site strapcart.com