Untreated Depression and Its Long-Term Effects on the Brain

How does depression affect the brain long-term? What difference does it make if the depression is left untreated? Those are two of the questions that a research team attempted to answer; and their findings were published in February 2018. Their study reveals the neuroprogression of depression, or the brain pathology that occurs when the illness lasts for years. Find out what they learned through their investigations.

The Participants

The research team collected participants from the city of Toronto, Canada, and its surrounding area. The participants ranged in age from 18 to 75 years of age. The ones in the control group were mentally healthy, while others had to score a minimum of 17 on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, with no history of smoking, alcohol dependence, drug abuse, neurological illness, serious medical problems, or autoimmune disorders. Other exclusions applied as well to ensure that the study was as clear and accurate as possible, free of mitigating factors.

The Effects on the Brain

The team discovered that patients who had suffered a long time with untreated depressive disorder had significantly greater microglial activation, compared to patients who had pursued antidepressant treatment or patients who were healthy.

The indicator of the microglial activation, known as TSPO VT, increases every year that the condition goes untreated. In patients who suffered from major depressive disorder for 10 years or more, without seeking treatment, TSPO VT was “31-39% greater n the three primary grey-matter regions of participants… compared with healthy participants” according to the study. That’s a huge difference.

The Benefits of Antidepressants

Another aspect of the study reveals the beneficial effects of antidepressant medication. The longer those medications were taken, the better the results of the PET scanning compared to untreated patients.

Jeff Meyer, MD and PhD with the Research Imaging Center at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Canada, was the study investigator. He explains that “SSRIs halt this increasing inflammation, but there may be better ways to target the inflammation instead of just halting it.” The current available medications stop the injury to the brain, but they can’t necessarily pinpoint the source of the inflammation and eradicate it. That’s why it’s vital to begin treatment as early as possible, rather than allowing the condition to progress over years.

A Step Towards a Better Life

Major depressive disorder can worsen the longer you allow it to go untreated. It actually changes the way your brain works, in a noticeable way that’s obvious on a PET scan . Plus, it affects every aspect of your life— your relationships, your job, your hobbies, your health, and your personal enjoyment of life. Why suffer for years with this debilitating condition? Instead, seek help from a professional psychiatrist in Singapore. There are effective solutions for your depression, including various types of therapy and medication.

There’s no shame in struggling with depression in Singapore. At Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic, you won’t be judged; you’ll be welcomed and well cared for. Our offices are calm and comfortable, and your information is always kept strictly private. Contact us today to set up your first appointment. Think of it as your first step towards a better, more joyful life.

Article by Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic