One step closer to finding the root of depression

Mind

20th October 2016

New research has revealed the physical root of depression, according to a study published in the journal Brain.

The study, which was carried out by the University of Warwick in collaboration with Fudan University in China, shows that depression affects the brain’s lateral orbitofrontal cortex – which is implicated in non-reward functions – so that sufferers of the disease feel a sense of loss and disappointment associated with not receiving rewards.

Depression is also associated with reduced connectivity between the reward brain area in the medial orbitofrontal cortex and memory systems in the brain, which could explain why sufferers have a reduced focus on happy memories.

Professor Jianfeng Feng, the study’s lead author, said: ‘More than one in ten people in their life time suffer from depression, a disease which is so common in modern society that we can even find the remains of Prozac in the tap water in London.’

‘Our finding, with the combination of big data we collected around the world and our novel methods, enables us to locate the roots of depression which should open up new avenues for better therapeutic treatments in the near future for this horrible disease.’

Instant analysis

Major depression is now thought to be the second leading cause of disability worldwide, and a major contributor to both suicide and – surprising to many – ischaemic heart disease. Anything that further increases our understanding of this common and debilitating condition is always welcome, and if it opens up a new avenue of treatment then even better.

This Chinese-based study of over 1,000 people used high-resolution MRI scans to analyse the parts of the brain affected by depression and found that these areas appear to have different functional connectivity in people with depression. This is postulated to trigger low self-esteem and a reduced focus on happy memories, key triggers in depressive illness.

Potentially exciting as this is regarding new treatments that could aim to impact on these areas of the brain the study is still relatively small in number, further studies are needed to replicate its findings and any potential new treatment on the back of this will be many years away. However, this does warrant serious research and adds another potential line of attack against a health problem that still has much to be discovered.’

Score 3/5

RH


  • davidofkent

    Age has a part to play, I believe. When you are young, with your life ahead of you, you feel optimistic. When you are old with your life mostly behind you there is nothing to look forward to. Add to that the feeling that society is deteriorating at an alarming rate and it is easy to become miserable. I only remember the bad things that have happened to me and none of the good. I know for a fact that I don’t get enough rewards. My energy bills have just gone up as have my telephone and mobile costs. A cinema seat is now outrageously priced whilst the television offers almost 90% outright rubbish. And don’t get me started on those people who are called comedians (no I’m not talking about the Labour Party). Fortunately, there are many worthwhile books to read. Depression is real and a perfectly understandable reaction to the evidence that this country has lost its way. I do hope they get a move on with Brexit. At least I have that to look forward to, if I survive long enough!

    • When you are young, with your life ahead of you, you feel optimistic
      Speak for yourself.

  • jeremy Morfey

    Some of it may be a natural response, well documented in PTSD. A protection device against traumatic events is to forget about them, thereby making life tolerable.

    What happens in depression is that this becomes a response to all events and all demands on one’s memory to the point of life becoming a mush of things we’d really rather avoid.

  • tracery

    Is it any wonder that depression has become increasingly common given the state of our overcrowded country that has resulted from mass immigration and its adverse impact on public services, as well as the absurdity of political correctness which is slowly but surely strangling free speech, particularly in the work-place where one’s employment prospects can be threatened for daring to express politically incorrect opinions. The fact is that those who have governed this country in the last forty years or so have transformed what was once a relatively homogeneous society into one in which large parts of the country have become multicultural hell-holes. Who would not be depressed by what has been allowed to happen?

    • Mme. Marion Marechal Merseault

      Well, the fact that the snowflake generation has been primed to receive rewards just for existing, and then has to suffer the major letdown of finding out that no, you do not “deserve” a job, let alone a six-figure one, because you shelled out roughly the same amount for a English or gender studies degree, has to be a factor in the spike of depression rates and suicides. The conditions you describe are on one hand a way of diffusing this mass breakdown by allowing the snowflakes to continue living in ponyland, and at the same time a backlash to the “oppressive” conditions that made them feel so miserable.

      The one thing these tantrum-pitchers refuse to acknowledge amid their widespread autistic meltdowns over “microaggressions” and, now, a president who “triggers” them beyond belief, is that in the long run, no lives matter. The pink-haired trolls could cut themselves with the shards of Hillary’s would-be shattered glass ceiling all they want and nothing of value would be lost. Cynicism is a bitter pill, and from the looks of things, a lot of people are having a severe allergic reaction.

  • They probably have fewer happy memories to remember! Scientists that can’t do ‘common sense’ are never going to be any help.