Depression is a serious medical disorder that can last for long periods of time.
Brain cells use electrical signals to communicate information. White matter is an important part of the brain's neural network. Negative changes can disrupt the brain's wiring. The changes can interfere with analytical and emotional processing. In a study with more than 3000 people, the results shed light on the biological changes that occur in the brain when a person is depressed.
Depression Changes White Matter
Depression affects millions of people around the world. The mood disorder causes feelings of emptiness, exhaustion, tiredness and a loss of interest in fun activities. Scientists mapped the structure of white matter. Depressed people had damaged white matter. In contrast, the damage was not present in people who are not chronically depressed. The results will help scientists find new treatments for depression. The results also give credence to the notion that depression has a psychological and a neurological basis.
The Dopamine Reward Center and Addiction
Scientists are also studying the link between depression and substance abuse. Depression can lead to alcohol and drug addiction issues. The brain creates addictions and habits in the dopamine reward system. In recent years, scientists have found several genetic links to depression. Dopamine receptors are reduced when a person is chronically depressed. When a person is addicted to a substance, the brain craves larger quantities of the harmful substance.
Another study found that depression symptoms occur in the orbitofrontal cortex. The orbitofrontal cortex handles expectation and sensory integration. The biological link does not mean that psychology is not an important factor. It does show that depression may have detectable biological markers.
Scientists have not made any definitive conclusions. However, the results will help researchers move forward in finding new treatments for depression.
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