You are here

Brain change 'result of depression, not cause'

Brain change 'result of depression, not cause'
20th July 2011

A smaller hippocampus is the result of depression rather than a risk factor in older people who may be utilising assisted living, research has shown.

While a small hippocampus, located in the brain, has long been associated with depression, it was unclear as to whether possessing a smaller hippocampus put an individual at risk of the condition or whether it was caused by it.

A study, published in journal Biological Psychiatry, carried out three brain imagining scans on older people - one at the beginning of the study and then five year and ten year follow ups, while assessing them for depressive symptoms and disorders.

Corresponding author Dr Tom den Heijer reported: "We found that persons with a smaller hippocampus were not at higher risk to develop depression. In contrast, those with depression declined in volume over time. Our study therefore suggests that a small hippocampal volume in depressed patients is more likely an effect of the depression rather than a cause."

Older people should make an effort to avoid depression in order to experience a superior retirement period, a new study published in journal Biological Psychiatry has suggested.

A biased tendency towards and preference for a positive, emotionally gratifying experience can help people to age successfully, researchers found.

Read about support and personalised care at Barchester care homes for anyone with mental health concerns.