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Does Depression Damage Your Brain?

September 24, 2021 , Agape Treatment Center

Does Depression Damage Your Brain?

Depression is a Serious Mood Disorder

Depression affects millions of people – According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), it is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. Major depression can result in severe impairments that interfere with or limit one’s ability to carry out major life activities for some individuals.

Depression (major depressive disorder or clinical depression) is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks, according to The National Institute of Mental Health.

Does Depression Cause Damage to Your Brain?

Depression is one of the most common mental health challenges in the world today. If you live with this condition, you know how debilitating it can be on your mental, physical, and emotional health. Depression can make you feel worthless and hopeless and can leave you bedridden or battling suicidal thoughts. Luckily, a combination of therapy and medication can help treat depression. But if left untreated, it can damage the brain.

Depression is more than just feeling down. It just might physically change your brain. This can affect how you think, feel, and act. Experts who study this aren’t sure what causes these changes. They think genetics, stress, and inflammation might play a role. Nevertheless, it’s important to get help for your depression. That’s because repeat episodes seem to damage your brain more and more over time. Early treatment might help you avoid or ease some of the following changes.

Depression And The Size Of Your Brain

There’s some debate about which areas are affected and how much. There’s growing evidence that several parts of the brain shrink in people with depression. Specifically, areas with many brain cells, which is gray matter volume (GMV). Those that have regular or ongoing depression with serious symptoms seem to lose more GMV. Studies show depression can lower gray matter volume in these areas:

  • Hippocampus. That part of your brain is important for learning and memory. But, unfortunately, it connects to other parts of your brain that control emotion and is responsive to stress hormones. That makes it vulnerable to depression.
  • Prefrontal cortex. This area plays a role in your higher-level thinking and planning. There’s also evidence these parts of your brain get smaller:
  • Thalamus
  • Caudate nucleus
  • Insula

When these areas don’t work the right way, you might have:

  • Memory problems
  • Trouble thinking clearly
  • Guilt or hopelessness
  • No motivation
  • Sleep or appetite problems
  • Anxiety

Signs Of Severe Depression Disorder

When you have a major depressive disorder, you are more than just feeling down for a day or two; depression causes a bad mood that you can’t 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 of 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.

Overcome Mental Illness at AGAPE Treatment Center

At the AGAPE Behavioral Healthcare Network, we take mental health issues of all varieties very seriously and provide a safe, nurturing environment where one can learn about the disorders plaguing them from an emotionally unstable life.

Our licensed mental health clinicians will fully assess an individual that seems, feels, or has been previously diagnosed with a mental health disorder and meet them exactly where they are in life.