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How Long-Term Depression May Alter Your Brain

What do Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and depression have in common?

According to a recent study published in The Lancet Psychiatry, maybe more than originally thought. To study the potential long-term effects of untreated depression, the investigators use position emission tomography scans (PET scans) to compare the differing amounts of inflammation in the brain. Results showed that the individuals with 10 or more years of untreated depression had more inflammation in comparison to individuals with less than 10 years of untreated depression.

While some inflammation in our body is protective, too much inflammation leads to chronic illness such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Since this was a small study, more research is needed to bolster these findings. But if the results hold up, this is a significant finding. This would mean that depression shares similarities with degenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s. This would also have implications for treatment as more research is collectively indicating that depression is a biological based disorder of the brain, and if left untreated may alter the brain.

Original article written by David DiSalvo

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