Researchers have found depression is linked to areas of the brain shrinking in size but when depression is paired with anxiety one area of the brain becomes “significantly” larger.
A new study, published in The Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, looked at more than 10,000 people to find the effects of depression and anxiety on brain volume. The study shows depression shrinks the hippocampus, which is situated in the middle of your brain, and is the part of the brain linked to memory and learning.
So prolonged depression can actually reduce your ability to learn new information and recall it.
But, in contrast, the study found that when depression and anxiety occur together, it leads to an increase in size of the part of the brain linked to emotions, the amygdala. This is really interesting because most studies looking at the effect of depression on the brain do not account for the fact that people who have depression often experience anxiety too.
Indeed anxiety and depression are closely linked and are often part of a process that people run many times a day. Because depression is the process of feeling regret about past events, which usually leads to anxiety, which is the process of worrying about future events.
I cover this process of depressing in far more detail in this article.
A particularly important finding of this research is that people who had both depression and anxiety had less shrinkage in many brain areas and even an increase in the amygdala. This indicates that the true effect of depression on the brain has been underestimated because of an opposite effect in the amygdala. The amygdala is a walnut-shaped structure in the centre of our emotional brain, which is the fear centre of the brain is being overstimulated and sends out an alarm signal that carries the stress hormone, cortisol to the rest of the body.
So what this research suggests is that people who regularly depression and anxiety shrink their capacity to learn, whilst increasing their ability to feel fear. That seems to me to be an incredibly powerful method of preventing people from escaping from the situation, and probably explains why depression and anxiety is the most debilitating disorder worldwide, with recent studies showing that following COVID-19, one-in-five adults experience periods of depression and anxiety on a regular basis.
Now without depressing you even more, this research is of concern because a smaller hippocampus is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and may accelerate the development of dementia. So what is really important if you or someone you know suffers from depression, is to take action. And the fastest and most effective method of helping escape that loop of depression and anxiety is to seek out a practitioner of Eye Movement Therapy. I see great progress in clients with only a few sessions, and there are IEMT practitioners world-wide.
Here’s a link to my IEMT playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list…
Along with a link to the IEMT Practitioners website: https://integraleyemovementtherapy.co… where you can find a local practitioner who can help you.