How Does Depression Affect the Brain?

Depression is a serious medical illness that causes a person to experience a persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest in things that they once enjoyed. It can affect how they think, feel and behave and prevent them from accomplishing tasks at work or school, and at home. A depressed person may feel like there is no reason to go on living.

According to expert providers of depression treatment in Dubai, this mood disorder, also called clinical depression or major depressive disorder, is not something that a person can easily “snap out of,” and it is more than a simple case of feeling the blues.

Some of the common symptoms of depression are:

If a person experiences these symptoms for at least two weeks, and these are observed to affect their usual ability to function, they can be diagnosed with depression.

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What are the effects of depression on the human brain?

Depression can affect a person’s physical health in a number of ways. It can cause weight loss or weight gain, sleep difficulties, heart disease, gastrointestinal issues, sexual health problems, inflammation, chronic pain, and worsened chronic health conditions.

But aside from these, research shows that clinical depression also has physical effects on a person’s brain.

Here’s what has been observed thus far:

1. Depression causes the brain to shrink.

A study published in the British Medical Bulletin revealed that having clinical depression can cause certain regions of the brain to “shrink” or to lose gray matter volume (gray matter refers to tissue containing brain cells).

Shrinkage was observed in the following areas of the brain:

2. Depression is linked to brain inflammation.

While it is still unclear whether depression causes brain inflammation, or it is the other way around, there has been a link observed between the amount of time a person experiences depression and the percentage of inflammation seen in the brain.

Left unattended, brain inflammation can hurt or kill brain cells as well as prevent new cells from developing. This, in turn, results in shrinkage, reduced neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to change as a person ages), and decreased neurotransmitter function.

Ultimately, inflammation can negatively affect a person’s memory, mood, ability to learn, and brain development.

3. Depression is associated with reduced brain oxygen levels.

Depression can cause changes in a person’s breathing, and this could contribute to reduced oxygen levels in the brain or hypoxia.

Brain cells begin to die after just five minutes of oxygen loss, and the person may experience trouble moving parts of their body, some temporary memory loss, and inattentiveness.

Are these effects permanent?

Further study is still needed to determine if these significant effects of depression on the brain are irreversible.

What scientists urge people to keep in mind is that the brain is neuroplastic, or can be changed, so there is hope that certain depression treatments and management methods may yield a positive impact on a person’s brain and overall health.

Overcoming depression and improving overall health

Depression is a medical condition that can significantly affect one’s brain and body. Understanding and treating depression can help a person regain a fuller, healthier life.

Talk to us today so you can discover how neurofeedback therapy can lead to a healthier, happier you.

Dr. Upasana Gala is the founder and CEO of Evolve Brain Training, a Neurofeedback-centered institute that focuses on using non-invasive brain training techniques to maximize the brain's true potential.

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