How Depression Wears Down the Brain

For millions of Americans, depression represents a heavy burden to bear on a regular basis. Aside from making life fairly miserable, depression might also have serious long-term ramifications for the brain.

A Cause or a Symptom?

Can depression accelerate the aging of the brain? According to a report from the University of Sussex, the answer to that question is “yes.” For their report, this research team reviewed 34 previous studies, encompassing a total of over
71,000 individuals. Upon analyzing these sources, the authors found that depression appeared to inhibit the brain’s ability to function properly, making it harder for it to process and recall information. The study offered three possible theories for their conclusions:
• Deteriorating cognitive health could be caused by depression.
• Depression may be a symptom of the real cause of worsening cognitive capabilities.
• Depression and worsening cognitive health are triggered by separate conditions, which nonetheless have similar risk factors.
The authors noted that some combination of the theories presented above likely explains the connection between cognitive health and depression.

Helping the Elderly

The reports senior author, Dr. Darya Gaysina, argued that the study illustrated the importance of depression as a public health issue. “Our findings should give the government even more reason to take mental health issues seriously and to ensure that health provisions are properly resourced,” stated Gaysina. “We need to protect the mental wellbeing of our older adults and to provide robust support services to those experiencing depression and anxiety in order to safeguard brain function in later life.”
Major depressive disorder affects more adults than you may think. In any given year, it is estimated that some 16 million Americans must contend with the symptoms of this condition.

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