Thursday, March 26, 2009

Brain Differences in People with Family History of Depression


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Researchers have detected a difference in the brains of people with a family history of depression.

They believe depression may be passed down between generations by a thinning of the gray matter in the right cerebral hemisphere. The gray matter in this area was 28% less thick in people with a family history of depression than in those without one whether the person had actually experienced a depressive episode.

Other research has determined the right hemisphere is the center of social and emotional information and processing. The researchers speculate an impairment in this region may predispose these individuals to the development of depression and anxiety.

No one is sure whether this brain trait is a risk factor for developing depression, a sign an individual will develop depression or something else entirely.

These findings are especially important for people who mistakenly think depression is nothing more than weakness or fragility. We don't blame people for other brain abnormalities that give them challenges, and we've got to learn to do the same for mental health issues. The more we learn about these conditions, the more we learn how similar they can be to other diseases.

Sources:
Inherited Depression Risk Linked to Brain Structure Abnormalities
Study Links Depression to Thinning of Brain's Cortex

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