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Understanding and handling depression


Understanding and handling depression

Inspire is delighted to have teamed up with Expat Life magazine to bring you more great content to do with Thailand

Depression is often diagnosed as a prolonged episode of severe sadness often accompanied by disinterest and disengagement in activities which once provided enjoyment. Sadness itself is a common and healthy human emotion, most often experienced after disappointment, loss or personal stress. Negative emotions may return in bouts, but in most cases they diffuse overtime. Sometimes however, this sadness can manifest into something deeper and more entrenched. This can begin to affect your overall outlook, lifestyle and relationships, indicating the onset of depression. It is important to realise that depression is not uncommon and comes in many forms, each of which can be treated through introducing positive changes into your lifestyle as well as clinical means, if needed. Remember that these negative feelings will pass and there is a wide network of support and advice which you can tap into. One common cause of depression is hormone imbalances: Changes in the balance of hormones may trigger major depression in certain people, especially during menopause or during and after pregnancy. As a doctor, I can’t help but listen to my patients, learn from them and at times in my life feel the lows.

Why should you treat depression?

Depression can last months, and the reality is we have to get on with life and work, live and interact with others even when our moods are low, so treatment is important. Not only that, depression affects brain function. There are three parts of the brain that appear to play a role in major depression: the hippocampus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex. The hippocampus is located near the centre of the brain. It stores memories and regulates the production of a hormone called cortisol. The body releases cortisol during times of physical and mental stress, including during times of depression. Problems can occur when excessive amounts of cortisol are sent to the brain due to a stressful event or a chemical imbalance in the body. In a healthy brain, brain cells (neurons) are produced throughout a person’s adult life in a part of the hippocampus called the dentate gyrus. In people with major depression, however, the long-term exposure to increased cortisol levels can slow the production of new neurons and cause the neurons in the hippocampus to shrink. This can lead to memory problems.

The prefrontal cortex is located in the very front of the brain. It is responsible for regulating emotions, making decisions, and forming memories. When the body produces an excess amount of cortisol, the prefrontal cortex also appears to shrink.The amygdala is the part of the brain that facilitates emotional responses, such as pleasure and fear. In people with major depression, the amygdala becomes enlarged and more active as a result of constant exposure to high levels of cortisol. An enlarged and hyperactive amygdala, along with abnormal activity in other parts of the brain, can result in disturbed sleep and activity patterns. It can also cause the body to release irregular amounts of hormones and other chemicals in the body, leading to further complications. Many researchers believe high cortisol levels play the biggest role in changing the physical structure and chemical activities of the brain, triggering the onset of major depression. Normally, cortisol levels are highest in the morning and decrease at night. In people with major depression, however, cortisol levels are always elevated, even at night.


Source: Expat Life Thailand

Inspire is delighted to have teamed up with Expat Life magazine to bring you more great content to do with Thailand

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