According to the findings of a new study the brain alters after years of continuous depression suggesting the urgent need to change how we think about depression as it progresses. The research tells us that people with longer periods of depression that goes untreated lasting for more than a decade had significantly more brain inflammation compared to those having less than 10 years of untreated depression.
The co-author of the study Jeff Meyer from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Canada says that the Greater inflammation in the brain is a common response with degenerative brain diseases as they continue to progress such as with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. The study gives us the first biological evidence for large brain changes occurring in long-lasting depression proving that it is a different level of illness which needs different therapeutics.
The study published in the journal named The Lancet Psychiatry had the researchers involving a group of people with more than 10 years of depression and another group with less than 10 years of depression along with a group of people with no history of depression ever as a comparison group.
In the study, the brain inflammation was measured using a type of brain imaging known as positron emission tomography or PET. The brain's immune cells which are known as microglia are involved in the brain's normal inflammatory response to any kind of trauma or an injury, but too much of this inflammation is associated with degenerative illnesses and also depression.
When microglia or brain’s immune cells are activated they make more translocator protein also known as TSPO which is a marker of inflammation that can be seen using the PET imaging. The researchers discovered that the TSPO levels were approximately 30per cent higher in different brain regions in people with long-lasting untreated depression when compared to people with short periods of untreated depression.The group of people with long-term depression was also seen having higher TSPO levels than those with no depression at all.