What You Don’t Know About Depression
Approximately 15.7 million American adults are affected by depression.
Many of us are no longer shocked by that statistic as we may have loved ones who have struggled with depression or had encounters with it ourselves.
Depression affects every area of one’s life
Many of us would be shocked if we understood the extent to which depression can affect us. It can have an effect on our personalities, relationships, careers, hobbies, and even our brains. Much in the same way our good habits can change our brain for the better, the sadness and isolation of depression can change our brains for the worse.
Research has shown that, over time, depression can start to wear down the important gray matter in crucial areas such as the:
1. Prefrontal cortex (the command center of the brain)
2. Hippocampus (the brain’s emotional and memory center)
3. Activity in these areas is often lower than it should be in people suffering from depression, depending on the type, but brain SPECT scans are showing that these areas are being actually changed by the depression.
Depression is a brain disease not just sadness
Depression is much more than just an extended, deep sadness; it is an extremely complex disease with a set of challenging symptoms that are the result of biological problems in the brain; it can affect anyone, from grandparents to grandchildren.
Instead of going away on its own, depression will often stick around, changing you and, as demonstrated by research, your brain. Many people have tried to explain this feeling; some say they now feel trapped and alone when they used to be so happy.
Brain Systems Involved with Depression
Through brain SPECT imaging at Amen Clinics, we have found that there are five major systems in the brain involved with how we feel, what we think and how we act or behave.
Abnormalities in any of these five systems – including combinations – can contribute to the symptoms of depression.
1. The Basal Ganglia: Allows for smooth integration of emotions, thoughts, and physical movement.
2. The Deep Limbic System: Sets the emotional tone of your mind, stores emotional memories, controls motivation and appetite.
3. The Anterior Cingulate Gyrus: Responsible for cognitive flexibility, this is your ability to go with the flow, adapt to change, and deal successfully with new problems.
4. The Temporal Lobes: The storage of memories and images that help us define our sense of ourselves.
5. The Prefrontal Cortex: The “Executive Center” of the brain.
But this news is not all bad. Many of us know how it feels, and are working on feeling better. We realize we are not as alone as our changing brains make us feel and depression CAN be treated. However, having seen tens of thousands of patients at Amen Clinics, we know that depression is not a simple disorder with a one-size-fits-all solution.
The Amen Clinics biomedical evaluation is part of the Amen Clinics Method Four Circles Approach to mental and physical health. We treat each patient as an individual, and take a full personal history before beginning SPECT imaging or recommending any treatment program. Call us today at 1-888-288-9834 or schedule an appointment online.