How does depression affect your brain?
Depression (major depressive disorder) is not to be taken lightly. It’s not just about feeling sad, but a continuous sense of sadness for a period of two weeks at least and usually accompanied by a loss of interest in normal activities. This may go to the extent of disrupting a person’s normal daily routine and lead to mood swings too.
When depression in a person continues, it does not just affect the person psychologically but makes physical changes in the brain. You will be surprised to know that this includes brain inflammation, reduction in oxygen levels to actual shrinking.
Which parts of the brains does it affect?
Research shows that depression affects the hippocampus, thalamus, amygdala, frontal and prefrontal cortices. In fact, these areas have been seen to actually shrink. When this happens, it also affects the functions that they do.
Being low on oxygen
When there is a reduced level of oxygen in the body, this has been linked to causing depression. This may be the result of changes that take place in the brain as it is highly sensitive to oxygen.
Changes in structure and connectivity
Eight months of depression or more can impact the brain in a major way. The hippocampus does not function at its usual efficiency and this may result in memory impairment. The prefrontal cortex also gets affected and the result is this can impact execution of tasks. The amygdala is another area that’s impacted and this affects moods and the regulation of emotion.
Inflammation of the brain
When a person is depressed for a long period of time, this can result in brain inflammation. This makes brain cells die which leads to shrinkage, reduction in the efficiency of neurotransmitters and the brain losing the ability to change with age. These can lead to disruptions in memory, mood, learning and brain development.