Depression may cause the release of glucocorticoid in the brain, a type of steroid that can damage the hippocampus and other areas of the central nervous system. When this occurs, you may experience symptoms associated with neurocognitive disorder (dementia), such as memory loss.
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.
Depression causes the hippocampus to raise its cortisol levels, impeding the development of neurons in your brain. The shrinkage of brain circuits is closely connected to the reduction of the affected part's function. While other cerebral areas shrink due to high levels of cortisol, the amygdala enlarges.
Dendrites are cellular extensions found in the neurons, or nerve cells. This suggests that depression is not an irreversible neurodegenerative disorder. Instead, its impact on the brain may be reversible, and the brain can heal.
Summary: Pathological anxiety and chronic stress lead to structural degeneration and impaired functioning of the hippocampus and the PFC, which may account for the increased risk of developing neuropsychiatric disorders, including depression and dementia.
It has been noted that during times of chronic stress, the myelin sheaths that make up white matter become overproduced, while less gray matter is produced. When this happens, there can be an imbalance in gray and white matter. In some cases, this results in permanent changes to the brain's structure.
Depression and mood disorders are characterized by structural as well as neurochemical alterations in the brain. However, these changes are not permanent, and can be blocked or reversed with behavioral and pharmacological treatments.
To further enhance your brain function as you recover from depression, it is vital to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night, increase your social connectedness, and avoid alcohol and recreational drugs like marijuana because they adversely affect cognition and mood.
If the symptoms develop later or gradually, they may constitute a relapse of the depression. Ultimately, these withdrawal symptoms will improve with time, but they can be unpleasant for days and possibly even weeks. In time, the brain readjusts and people should experience a return to their normal state.
If you keep taking your medicine, there is a good chance that you will start to feel less depressed and that the side effects will decrease. Most people feel that the benefits of antidepressants are well worth the price of living with some side effects.
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.
A PET scan can compare brain activity during periods of depression (left) with normal brain activity (right). An increase of blue and green colors, along with decreased white and yellow areas, shows decreased brain activity due to depression.
The hippocampus, an area of the brain responsible for memory and emotion, shrinks in people with recurrent and poorly treated depression, a global study has found.
Therapy, medication, and brain stimulation are the primary treatment options for depression. But complementary approaches can be a helpful addition to your treatment plan: Acupuncture.
The good news is these cognitive symptoms tend to improve with treatment. The bad news is they usually don't disappear. In one study, patients suffering from depression reported cognitive problems 94 percent of the time; that percentage decreased to 44 percent after most symptoms of depression had abated.
Persistent depressive disorder is a continuous, long-term form of depression. You may feel sad and empty, lose interest in daily activities and have trouble getting things done. You may also have low self-esteem, feel like a failure and feel hopeless.
Major depressive disorder isn't something that eventually “passes.” While most people feel sad at times in their lives, major depression is when a person is in a depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks.
People who are depressed cannot simply “pull themselves together” and be cured. Without proper treatment, including antidepressants and/or psychotherapy, untreated clinical depression can last for weeks, months, or years. Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people with depression.
Heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure and stroke. Sleep problems. Weight gain. Memory and concentration impairment.
Strategies to recover from chronic stress can include practicing mindfulness activities such as meditation and breathing exercises. People can also have a support system composed of family and friends, as well as a counselor or a psychiatrist if needed. A psychiatrist can prescribe medication to reduce stress.
But chronic stress, which is constant and persists over an extended period of time, can be debilitating and overwhelming. Chronic stress can affect both our physical and psychological well-being by causing a variety of problems including anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system.
And the answer is yes. The brain is incredibly resilient and possesses the ability to repair itself through the process of neuroplasticity. This phenomenon is the reason why many brain injury survivors can make astounding recoveries.