The Effects Depression Has on the Brain Explained


Depression can cause changes in the brain’s chemical structure and function, including both short-term and long-term effects on brain connectivity, which affects everything from mood regulation to memory and decision-making.


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Depression is a widespread mental health condition that impacts millions of individuals across the globe. This condition can severely limit one’s ability to perform daily activities. If you’re suffering from depression, it may even make you think to yourself– my brain is broken.

It is a known fact that depression can have physical effects on the brain.

Depression can cause changes in the brain’s chemical structure and function, affecting everything from mood regulation to memory and decision-making; sometimes, it may seem like your brain feels broken.

How Does Depression Affect The Brain on a Physical Level?

Depression can go beyond feeling down. It can physically affect your brain, altering how you think and feel, leaving you asking yourself – what is wrong with my brain?

Experts still are unsure exactly what causes depression to manifest physically in people. Yet, many steps are available medically and holistically for those struggling to overcome depression such as therapy, medication, or lifestyle modifications like emotional support networks and healthy habits.

When managing more severe symptoms of depression, professional mental health services, like those from psychiatrists or psychologists with expertise in mood disorders, may be essential.

A professional will help provide diagnoses, develop treatment plans, and oversee care to reduce symptoms while increasing overall functioning.

Brain Connectivity

The term brain connectivity refers to how connected various regions of our brains are and how they interact with one another.

It measures how neurons communicate across regions in our mind, as well as coordination among regions that control thought and movement, including learning and memory abilities, emotion regulation, decision making, and behavioral responses.

Brain connectivity impacts everything from our ability to learn new information, as well as emotional regulation, decision making, and overall general behavior.

Short-term impacts of depression on brain connectivity

Depression has numerous short-term impacts on brain connectivity. Studies have demonstrated that individuals living with depression tend to exhibit decreased communication between the prefrontal cortex and deeper regions of the brain such as the amygdala and hippocampus.

This impact on brain connectivity can result in impaired decision-making, memory loss, difficulty controlling emotions, and decreased executive functioning.

Depression also alters how information is processed across different regions of the brain – leading to slower processing speeds, difficulty with concentration or focus, and longer reaction times compared to those without depression.

Such brain connectivity changes may have serious ramifications on people living with depression, causing various impacts on daily life.

Long-term impacts of depression on brain connectivity

Long-term depression has an even more significant impact on brain connectivity than short-term episodes do.

Neuroimaging studies demonstrate this fact by showing that individuals suffering from chronic depression have less activity in the prefrontal cortex while experiencing increases in activity within deeper parts of their brain, such as the amygdala.

Chronic stress associated with depression has been found to lead to the rewiring of brain pathways, making it harder for individuals to regulate emotions or think clearly, and may also alter memory storage capacity causing difficulties in recalling memories.

Long-term depression can impede decision-making processes and compromise executive functioning, potentially having serious ramifications on daily functioning and quality of life for those suffering from depression.

Are the Changes Permanent?

Scientists continue to explore whether depression’s changes to the brain are permanent. Prolonged depression symptoms have been associated with long-term brain changes primarily within the hippocampus region; this may explain why treatment can be challenging.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and antidepressant medication have both proven effective treatments for depression. According to research, both can significantly impact brain volume and connectivity associated with depression – though results will differ on a case-by-case basis.

Studies are needed to ascertain if these treatments can make lasting changes on the brain for those suffering from depression.

How NeuroSpa Can Assist

At NeuroSpa, patients begin with a comprehensive psychiatric assessment to diagnose mental health conditions. Our team of professionals will then continue by recommending the most beneficial course of action to restore mental well-being.

Our clinicians will assess you to develop an optimal plan, which may include TMS therapy, ketamine therapy, telehealth services, or any combination approach to address the diagnoses uncovered during our psychiatric evaluation process.

As part of your care at NeuroSpa, our team will consistently assess how your condition improves over time and adjust any course of treatment accordingly.

If you or a loved one have been suffering from depression, schedule an appointment with NeuroSpa today.

Signs You Are Experiencing Depression vs. A Midlife Crisis

Aging is a process that can sometimes feel uncomfortable while we go through profound, abrupt changes throughout our lives. A midlife crisis isn’t a psychological disorder per se, but it’s still an uncomfortable period of transition between 40 and 55, although there’s some variability in the timing of midlife crises. Men and women experience midlife crises somewhat differently.

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