Depression 'causes brain change'

Posted on 20 July 2011

Older people with depression, who may be paying for care, may have different brain anatomy to those who do not have the condition, research indicates.

A study published in Biological Psychiatry which looked at a large population of elderly people found that those with depression have a smaller hippocampal volume than healthy individuals.

Participants underwent an imaging scan, which was then followed up at five and ten year periods to uncover whether a smaller hippocampus was a risk factor for depression, or an effect of the mental health illness.

Corresponding author Dr Tom den Heijer said: "We found that persons with a smaller hippocampus were not at higher risk to develop depression. In contrast, those with depression declined in volume over time. Our study therefore suggests that a small hippocampal volume in depressed patients is more likely an effect of the depression rather than a cause."

Meanwhile, research published in journal Frontiers of Psychology found that people who took antidepressants were significantly more likely to experience a relapse in depression than those who were not prescribed medication for the condition.

Posted by Natalie Edwards

 

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