Depression alone and psychological problems at a whole have become a recurring problem, akin to a pandemic in norm modern societies. Our moods are the most common projections of our own lives, experiencing ups and downs as we go. But from time to time, these “mood swings” can become much more perverse, some can even have debilitating effects on our daily lives, careers and if left unchecked, can become fatal.
What is the depression?
It is estimated that around 10% of the world’s population will or have, at one point in their lives, suffered from a psychological problem or in this case, from depression. Keep in mind that prolonged spans of depressions constitute to what is known medically as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) but is often mistaken for normal depression. In biological terms, depression affects the brain in numerous ways but perhaps, as pointed out by scientific evidence, the Hippocampus suffers the most from a depression. While it has been revealed by neuroimaging studies that it is the brain circuits responsible for regulating moods that have been dysregulated, it is the damage done to the hippocampus from a depression is most severe.
Basically, depression puts the Amygdala, the brain region tasked with responding to salient emotional stimulate such as rewards and threats. When in the state of depression, the Amygdala is put on hyperactive mode e.g, it is on overdrive. This directly contributes the first sign of depression, a state in which the brain is constantly processing and navigating the environment, therefore leads to the excessive response to a negative situation. The amygdala is also connected to a certain set of brain regions that hone the physiological and behavioral response to emotional stimulation. For the sake of the topic, this article will only refer to those directly connected to depression, and they are: The Hippocampus and the Medial Prefrontal Cortex.
As stated before, while it IS the Hippocampus that suffers the most from a case of depression, the Medial Prefrontal Cortex suffers from stress, which is directly caused by hyperactivity of the Amygdala. The Medial Prefrontal Cortex is extremely vulnerable to stress, the reason to which has been addressed extensively in numerous psychological medical documents. Psychologists and patients alike have noted the commonality of stress and depression to occur at the same period of time. From a purely non-medical viewpoint, stress can cause depression while it is also a sign of depression. In other words, you can’t get one without the other, at least sooner or later as the cause for depression may vary and stress is only one of many. But chances are, once you display symptoms of stress, depression is often sure to follow.
And now to the important part: The Hippocampus. When you look at the Hippocampus of a person suffering from depression, it is much smaller than one of a normal, happy person. Of course, there are other regions of the brain also suffering from depression but Hippocampus is the brain region normally associated with controlling emotions and perhaps the most important aspect of life: memory. In hindsight, the longer the person is depressed, the smaller the Hippocampus gets. Studies show there is a connection between the loss of memory and a decrease of neurons within the Hippocampus region. Moreover, stress can cause the Hippocampus to atrophy.
Together with the Prefrontal Cortex, the Hippocampus forms an intricate network in charge of responding to emotional events. One can conclude correctly that a depressed person’s response to an emotional event will be, at best inappropriate, at worst, dysfunctional. Hence the normal symptoms present when it comes to a depressed person: The feeling of sadness, distress, unmotivated, excessive tiredness and perhaps the most recognizable sign: The loss of interest in pleasurable activities, known as anhedonia.
Several popular psychology websites have offered tests to help you self-diagnose to see if you’re having a depression. Here’s one example. If you have more than half of these signs then be careful, because you’re having a depression:
- Pointless: Nothing in life feels important or meaningful to you anymore.
- Pressure on the Head: You feel a heavy sensation in your head. This may make you feel sleepy.
- Avoidance and Isolation: You withdraw from friends and family and choose instead to be alone.
- The Cage: You cannot express yourself. You have become quiet, shy and blocked.
- You Disgust Me / Self-Hate: You hate yourself when you look in the mirror.
- Self-Destructive Rituals: You engage in destructive behaviors like drinking, taking drugs or overeating, even with the awareness that you will feel worse as a result.
- Dicing With Death: You act in reckless or dangerous ways and don’t care if you get seriously injured or die as a result.
- Life’s A Bitch: You feel that the world is against you because so much is going wrong in your life.
- Unreality / Dissociation: You have the sensation that your life is not real.
- Words Won’t Come: You find it hard to communicate your feelings to friends and family in words.
Remember that, if you or someone you realize any signs of the warning on depression, contact with specialist mental health immediately, or go to the emergency of a local hospital to assess immediately and the treatment.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017
Symptoms of depression http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/detecting-depression#1 Accessed December 12, 2016
Signs of Depression http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/recognizing-symptoms Accessed December 12, 2016
What Depression Looks Like http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20521449,00.html Accessed December 12, 2016