It’s been previously believed that brain damage causes or worsens your chances of having chronic depression.
Now with a study conducted by the ENIGMA MDD Working group, it’s being understood that persistent depression causes physiological damage to the brain. This enforces the idea of how important it is for developing a positive outlook on life. The study was published in Molecular Psychology and it surveyed 9,000 individual samples which is unprecedented. It’s the health of the hippocampus which has correlation with the damage and depression.
The size of the hippocampus and the onset of depression have distinct relationships as uncovered by past studies. The difference with this study is that the testing group was larger than ever before, thus could bring about very specific results, proving the true cause and effect of depression.
Governing the creation of new memories and the formation of long term memories, as well as spatial navigation, the hippocampus is located in the medial temporal lobe of the brain aka the center of the lower middle part of the brain and is present on both halves of the brain. The hippocampus houses the amygdala as well. This had already been linked to depression in the past. While it forms and maintains memories, it also controls your emotions. Here we have Professor Ian Hickie, who was the co-author of the study, explaining the relationship of the hippocampus and emotions:
“Your whole sense of self depends on continuously understanding who you are in the world – your state of memory is not about just knowing how to do Sudoku or remembering your password – it’s the whole concept we hold of ourselves… We’ve seen in a lot of other animal experiments that when you shrink the hippocampus, you don’t just change memory, you change all sorts of other behaviors associated with that – so shrinkage is associated with a loss of function.”
Memories become negative and then future thoughts will be bleak as the hippocampus shrinks. This in turn becomes a self fulfilling cycle. Your brain is now limited in function and effectiveness. How can this be reversed? More research needs to be done in order to examine how this form of damage can be turned around. But so far we have practices such as yoga and meditation which, from concrete experimentation, have been shown to thicken brain tissue, developing new neural connections.
This is really huge in proving the absolute necessity of developing, maintaining and practicing positive thought for your physical well being.