A recent article appeared in Molecular Psychiatry by L. Schmaal et al noted subcortical brain alterations in patients who have major depression. Brain volume shrinkage is secondary to depression and not the cause of depression. The study included a large data base of 1,700 patients and about 7,000 healthy controls. The primary decrease in size was found in the smaller hippocampal volumes of patients with depression. Smaller volumes predicted protracted course and protracted response to anti depressants.
One possibility is that the stress associated with depression affects the brain cells and causes the shrinkage.
We have ways of managing stress and inflammation such nutrition and other lifestyle changes. Also, treating the depression before it becomes chronic is important.
Article written by Jerry Bruns, MD
Dr. Bruns is a native of Southern California. He attended medical school at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio and finished his psychiatric residency and clinical fellowship at USC. Dr. Bruns is the founder of La Mer Integrative and Behavioral Medical Group and he has practiced Psychiatry in Ventura County since 1990. Dr. Bruns special interests include healthy aging and nutrition and their critical role in overall health for the active patient. He also specializes in anxiety, depression and behavioral management with the elderly and also the developmentally disabled young adults. Currently Dr. Bruns serves as Chairman of the Medical Advisory Board of the Alzheimer's Association in Ventura County. He is a frequent leader in collegial continuing education programs and directing innovative clinical outpatient programs.