Archive for category Symptoms Of Depression

Stress, Depression Reduce Brain Volume Thanks to Genetic ‘Switch’


Stress, Depression Reduce Brain Volume Thanks to Genetic 'Switch' Scientists have known that stress and depression can cause the brain to retract or lose volume, a condition associated with both emotional and cognitive impairment. Now, a new study discovers why this occurs.

Yale scientists have found that the deactivation of a single genetic switch can instigate a cascading loss of brain connections in humans and depression in animal models.

Researchers say the genetic switch, known as a transcription factor, represses the expression of several genes that are necessary for the formation of synaptic connections between brain cells. The loss of connections, in turn, can contribute to loss of brain mass in the prefrontal cortex, say the scientists.

“We wanted to test the idea that stress causes a loss of brain synapses in humans,” said senior author Ronald Duman, Ph.D. “We show that circuits normally involved in emotion, as well as cognition, are disrupted when this single transcription factor is activated.”

In the study, the research team analyzed tissue of depressed and non-depressed patients donated from a brain bank and looked for different patterns of gene activation.

The brains of patients who had been depressed exhibited lower levels of expression in genes that are required for the function and structure of brain synapses.

Lead author and postdoctoral researcher H.J. Kang, Ph.D., discovered that at least five of these genes could be regulated by a single transcription factor called GATA1.

When the transcription factor was activated in animal models, rodents exhibited depressive-like symptoms, suggesting GATA1 plays a role not only in the loss of connections between neurons but also in symptoms of depression.

This finding of genetic variations in GATA1 may help researchers identify people at high risk for major depression or sensitivity to stress.

“We hope that by enhancing synaptic connections, either with novel medications or behavioral therapy, we can develop more effective antidepressant therapies,” Duman said.

Source: Yale University

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Do I Have an Issue?


Hi, I’m 14. I’ve been in high school for about a year now. I started becoming very very lonely. I used to go out with my “friends”. Now I stay home every single day & it’s summer. I sometimes cry myself to sleep because I feel so unwanted! My parents are divorce, I live with my dad & my dad HATES my mom. I haven’t seen my mom in 4 years. Witch probably makes me so emotional. I sometimes even cry because I don’t think I feel love or understood by anyone. I don’t like talking a bout my feelings to people because I feel unwanted, I feel like they won’t care. I keep so much to myself. It brakes me. I believe my dad is Bi-Polar & has anger issues, witch could be a reason why I get mad very easy. I hate my body so much! I’m fat! Im very insecure. I have so much emotion in me. I’m always sad, I could be happy for one minute then back to sad. I also sleep my whole day away.

A. It seems as though you may be experiencing symptoms of depression. You have negative thoughts, you don’t feel good about yourself and you are withdrawing from friends and family. Your feelings may be related to the breakup of your parents’ marriage or their contentious relationship. They may be so focused on battling each other that they are neglecting your emotional needs.

Another aspect of this problem is that you have been without your mother for four years. It is unclear why you have not seen your mother for such a long time but this likely is contributing to your problems.

I would strongly advise you to speak to your father or other members of your family about the possibility of professional help. Don’t ignore these problems. Your symptoms need to be addressed. It seems as though your father is currently unable to meet your emotional needs and if that is the case, then you should seek help from a mental health professional. A therapist can assist you in developing coping skills and the processing of your feelings in a psychologically healthy way.

If you feel uncomfortable approaching your father about this issue, then as soon as school begins next month, speak to a guidance counselor. The guidance counselor could assist you in addressing these problems or refer you to a mental health professional.

In the meantime, force yourself to be in the presence of others. That may not be easy but do it anyway. The less that you are isolated, the better. Isolation increases the likelihood of negative feelings. I would also encourage you to begin writing in a journal. A journal could be helpful in a number of ways including being a release for your emotions and documenting your symptoms. When and if you have the opportunity to meet with a mental health professional, having those notes from your journal could greatly assist the therapist in determining what might be wrong. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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