How Depression Affects the Brain: Symptoms & Treatment

How Depression Affects the Brain

From Springbrook Hospital –

Depression is a common mental disorder that can have a substantial impact on the way the brain functions. For example, persistent sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of enjoyment or interest in activities characterize depression. Additionally, depression can cause various physical symptoms, such as unusual sleeping patterns, changes in appetite, and fluctuations in energy levels. But why do these feelings and changes happen? First, let’s talk about how depression affects the brain.

How Depression Affects the Brain

Life can certainly be difficult and filled with challenges that cause moods to fluctuate. In fact, some studies estimate that around 10% of people will suffer from depression or another mood disorder at some point in their lives. But in some cases, these negative mood swings can become prolonged and debilitating and impair someone’s ability to keep a job or maintain meaningful relationships.

Unfortunately, there is no consensus on how depression affects the brain. But what researchers can identify are the common symptoms of depression. While each case is unique to the individual, depression often presents with symptoms like:

  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Feelings of apathy
  • Not wanting to spend time with friends or family
  • Suicidal ideations
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Substance abuse

Doctors around the world continue to work toward figuring out exactly how depression affects the brain. But one of the most common ideas centers around a disruption in the brain’s neurotransmitters.

Neurotransmitters and Depression

Neurotransmitters and Depression

There are many theories about how depression affects the brain, but one of the most common is the monoamine deficiency hypothesis. This assumption suggests a defect or lack of activity in certain neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers inside your brain that help one brain cell communicate with another to forward a message. While there are more than a hundred neurotransmitters in the brain, for decades, scientists believed depression resulted from an abnormality in three specifically: serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine levels.

However, more recent studies suggest that deficiencies in neurotransmitters such as GABA and glutamate might be responsible for causing depression symptoms. Glutamate and GABA are two of the brain’s most abundant and commonplace neurotransmitters. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that decreases the electrical activity in your brain and causes it to slow down. This chemical messenger controls neurons’ excitability and helps regulate brain activity.

Additionally, it’s involved in several essential functions, including:

  • Sleep
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle tone
  • Stress reduction

On the other hand, glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter involved in many processes, including the synthesis of proteins, the transmission of nerve impulses, and the regulation of metabolism. This amino acid is also responsible for regulating proper brain function, including memory and learning.

In short, how depression affects the brain may be by depriving the brain of these essential neurotransmitters. Since these neurotransmitters are partially responsible for mood and stress regulation, not having enough of them may cause depression symptoms like catastrophizing and feeling overwhelmed. This could also explain the occurrence of brain fog, trouble sleeping, and the general apathy that characterize depression.

Depression Treatment Options

Depression Treatment Options

If you’ve been struggling with depression for an extended period, it can be hard to ask for help. How depression affects the brain often results in feelings of isolation and despair, but a mental health professional can help. With an accredited mental health program, you can get help for your depression symptoms and learn to

Intensive Treatment Program

While someone may need inpatient treatment for several reasons, people with major depression disorder are especially prone to needing crisis care. This is because mood disorders include mental illnesses like bipolar disorder or anxiety disorder, and sufferers are more likely than others to have bad days where they might be a danger to themselves.

The intensive treatment program at Springbrook Behavioral Hospital can help you pinpoint sources of stress and depression before guiding you through evidence-based treatment options designed to help you determine your stressors.

Some of the treatment modalities available in this inpatient depression treatment program include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Support groups
  • Supplemental therapy
  • Medication education and management
  • Discharge and aftercare planning

We also provide crisis stabilization and symptom reduction to individuals who arrive in acute distress. Additionally, patients with mental health conditions receive immediate assistance in a structured and safe environment. This type of care program helps keep individuals safe even during the worst depression symptoms.

Partial Hospitalization Program for Depression

The partial hospitalization program (PHP) provides a less intensive treatment approach than inpatient treatment programs. While it utilizes similar therapies and treatments, PHP does not offer the same 24/7 support that inpatient does. For this reason, PHP is typically recommended after an individual has completed an inpatient treatment program.

PHP patients participate in many of the same treatment options as residential patients but only dedicate a few hours five days a week to their program. Therefore, a partial hospitalization program is ideal for patients with less severe symptoms of depression or those who are looking to step down from inpatient care.

Where to Find Depression Help Near Me

If you would like to know more about how depression affects your brain or how our depression treatment programs can help you, reach out to us at 352-600-3288. Or you can submit a confidential contact form online. The fight against depression can be like a never-ending battle. But with the support of the experienced medical staff at Springbrook Behavioral Hospital, you can find relief from your depression symptoms.

The post How Depression Affects the Brain: Symptoms & Treatment appeared first on Springbrook Hospital.

Original Author: Springbook Hospital

More from author

Related posts


Latest posts

Frequently Asked Questions About Eating Disorders

What is an eating disorder? Eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, a form of self-starvation; bulimia nervosa, in which individuals engage in repetitive cycles of binge-eating alternating with...

How to talk to someone about their eating disorder

The decision to make a change is rarely an easy one for someone with an eating disorder. If the eating disorder has left them...

Loved one’s eating disorder

Understanding your loved one’s eating disorder Eating disorders involve extreme disturbances in eating behaviors—following rigid diets, bingeing on food in secret, throwing up after meals,...

Want to stay up to date with the latest news?

We would love to hear from you! Please fill in your details and we will stay in touch. It's that simple!