Patients with recurrent depression have smaller hippocampi
on 16 November 2018

Scientists discover some insights into the correlation between recurring depression and a key component of our brain, the hippocampus. The hippocampus plays a crucial role in the formation, storage and retrieval of memories, so clearly an undersized hippocampus may imply a dysfunction to this very important area of the brain . . . 

The anomaly of stress-related hippocampal atrophy!

Use it or lose it they say, maybe there is more truth to this than we realised?" It has been proven that the more you use your brain the bigger it gets, but that is not bigger in its physical size but in the number and richness of its synaptic connections and networks. In a UK study, dubbed "Taxicology." the size of the hippocampus of a select group of London taxi drivers showed an increase in the size of the lateral hippocampus; and, interestingly, the more experience they had, the larger it was. Since it appears that the use of the brain can expand its neuronal and synaptic size and function, could purposeful mental exercises and mindfulness be the key to reduce or ward off major depression?

Experientially I have noticed that the more we get involved in communicating with our brain/mind, the more we are able to manage our emotional states, if we manage our mind well, it will manage us well too! In this research, it seems the brains of people with recurrent depression have a noticeably smaller hippocampus - the part of the brain most associated with forming new memories - than healthy individuals, a new global study of nearly 9,000 people reveals. 

While not mentioned in this study, anxiety and distress are almost always present as a comorbid condition with depression. Stress hormones are known to affect the hippocampus and in severely stressful situations this can lead to hippocampal shrinkage. Therefore, it would seem somewhat obvious that people who suffer from recurrent depression are also likely to suffer from recurrent stress and/or anxiety too. As a treatment alternative, hypnotherapy is an excellent way to discover how to manage your mind, and consequently; your life! It has also been proven as an effective way to manage many cases of depression.

Hypnotherapy stands out as one of the most effective strategic life management methods there is, especially in its ability to promote clear thinking and good states of mental wellness. The behaviours that make life challenging are often a result of too much stress, too little sleep and way too little by way of clarity! So, to take back control of your mind and your life, it makes perfect sense to use a methodology that addresses the subconscious mind's role in perpetuating negative, vague and ambiguous states of mind. Hypnosis helps us to create calm relaxing states of mind that make life work better! If you would like to address any concerns you have in this direction, or, if you just want to make your life feel better,  then why not make an appointment for a Free Consultation? Hypnosis gives you the ability to have a good life!

The objective here is to help people understand how and why we become illogically trapped into irrational emotional experiences that may actually be happening for reasons different to that which we would imagine! If you want to know more about how Hypnotherapy can help you; why not make an appointment for a Free Consultation?

For more information on the Free Consultation - Go Here Or, to book your Free Consultation today, you can do so here

The Research:
Published in Molecular Psychiatry, the ENIGMA study is co-authored by University of Sydney scholars at the Brain and Mind Research Institute. The research is the largest international study to compare brain volumes in people with and without major depression. It highlights the need to identify and treat depression effectively when it first occurs, particularly among teenagers and young adults. Using magnetic resonance imaged (MRI) brain scans, and clinical data from 1,728 people with major depression and 7,199 healthy individuals, the study combined 15 datasets from Europe, the USA, and Australia. Major depression is a common condition affecting at least one in six people during their lifetime. It is a serious clinical mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, frustration, loss, or anger interfere with a person's everyday life for weeks, months or years at a time.

Key findings
The key finding that people with major depression have a smaller hippocampus confirms earlier clinical work conducted at the BMRI. In this study, the key finding was largely explained by subjects with recurrent depression. People with recurrent depression represented 65 per cent of study subjects with major depression. People with an early age of onset of major depression (before the age of 21 years) also had a smaller hippocampus than healthy individuals, consistent with the notion that many of these young people go on to have recurrent disorders. However, people who had a first episode of major depression (34 per cent of study subjects with major depression) did not have a small hippocampus than healthy individuals, indicating that the changes are due to the adverse effects of depressive illness on the brain.

"These findings shed new light on brain structures and possible mechanisms responsible for depression," says Associate Professor Jim Lagopoulos of the University of Sydney's Brain and Mind Research Institute. "Despite intensive research aimed at identifying brain structures linked to depression in recent decades, our understanding of what causes depression is still rudimentary. "One reason for this has been the lack of sufficiently large studies, variability in the disease and treatments provided, and the complex interactions between clinical characteristics and brain structure."  Commenting on the clinical significance of the findings, Co-Director of the Brain and Mind Research Institute, Professor Ian Hickie says: "This large study confirms the need to treat first episodes of depression effectively, particularly in teenagers and young adults, to prevent the brain changes that accompany recurrent depression.

"This is another reason that we need to ensure that young people receive effective treatments for depression - a key goal of our Centre of Research Excellence in Optimising Early Interventions for Young People with Emerging Mood Disorder. "This new finding of smaller hippocampal volume in people with major depression may offer some support to the neurotrophic hypothesis of depression," adds Jim Lagopoulos. "This hypothesis argues that a range of neurobiological processes such as elevated glucocorticoid levels in those with chronic depression may induce brain shrinkage.

"Clearly, there's a need for longitudinal studies that can track changes in hippocampal volume among people with depression over time, to better clarify whether hippocampal abnormalities result from a prolonged duration of chronic stress, or represent a vulnerability factor for depression, or both," he said.

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