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Depression makes you stupider?

That’s the message I’m taking home from this Boston Globe article, which basically says that depression is an atropying of the cells of the brain.

"The best way to think about depression is as a mild neurodegenerative disorder," says Ronald Duman, a professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at Yale. "Your brain cells atrophy, just like in other diseases [such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's]. The only difference with depression is that it's reversible. The brain can recover."

Wow! I don’t get very depressed often — I’m normally very happy. And now I have a reason to do ANYTHING to avoid being sad and depressed — it destroys your brain!

It is jarring to think of depression in terms of atrophied brain cells, rather than an altered emotional state. It is called “depression,” after all. Yet these scientists argue that the name conceals the fundamental nature of the illness, in which the building blocks of the brain – neurons – start to crumble. This leads, over time, to the shrinking of certain brain structures, like the hippocampus, which the brain needs to function normally.

Isn’t that amazing?

Original article: http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2008/07/06/head_fake/?page=full

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