• WHAT HAPPENS IN THE BRAIN WHEN YOU’RE DEPRESSED

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    It was shocking to wake up to the news of designer Kate Spade’s suicide. Yet, the disorder that tragically claimed her life  has been around for millennia. The ancient Greeks thought depression started in the spleen. Later some blamed demonic possession for a person’s lingering melancholy. Doctors today know better; depression begins and ends in your brain.

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    “Depression is a syndrome that likely emerges from several different brain processes that vary among patients,” explains Dr. Boadie Dunlop, director of the Mood and Anxiety Disorder Program at Emory University. Put simply, no two brains are exactly the same, and the underlying causes of depression vary from person to person, Dunlop stresses. That said, he and other modern-day mental health researchers have started to uncover some of the most common brain traits and conditions shared by depression sufferers. Read: HOW I USED FITNESS FOR MY MENTAL HEALTH

     

    The Emotion Connection

    “Compared to people who are mentally well, patients with depression often show increases in activity in important emotion-processing regions,” Dunlap says. Brain structures like the amygdala light up more vigorously among depressions sufferers, his research shows. Other studies have linked an uptick in amygdala activity to states of anger, sadness, and fear.

    There’s also research linking depression to the thalamus, a part of your brain that helps manage your responses to sensory information. The research hints that, among people with certain forms of depression, the thalamus might trigger their brains to produce unpleasant feelings in response to normal or benign external data, explains a report from Harvard Medical School. (Imagine a bummer feeling brought on by a sandwich, or a rerun of Grey’s Anatomy.)
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