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Depression Side Effects: Shrinking The Brain To Causing Inflammation, Chronic Depression Can Permanently Damage Your Brain

Throughout the daily routine, there is a lot of stress in one's life. Due to the change in lifestyle and work culture, mental issues have become common among people of different age groups. It has been seen that almost 15% of Indian adults suffer from some mental health issue, and nearly 1 in 20 individuals suffer from depression. It is a mental disorder that affects people negatively and causes persistent sadness and a lack of motivation. As common as it may appear, depression affects the brain and disrupts other major organs' functioning. This dangerous condition can affect the brain's physical structure, causing inflammation and shrinking. Depression is not noticeable in the initial stages and slowly affects the brain over some time. spoke to Dr Anurag Saxena, HOD and Consultant, Neurosurgery, HCMCT Manipal Hospitals, Dwarka, to understand more about this condition and how it permanently affects your brain.

How Depression Permanently Affects Your Brain

Some of the common ways in which depression permanently affects the brain include:

Brain Shrinking

Long-term chronic depression can affect several parts of the brain and cause the brain to shrink. The affected areas lose grey matter volume (GVM) or brain cells. Depression affects the hippocampus, which is responsible for learning and memory. This organ is also responsible for controlling emotions and stress hormones, which make us vulnerable to depression. Apart from that, depression also affects the prefrontal cortex, which plays a vital role in higher-level thinking and planning.

Brain Inflammation

Depression increases the brain's inflammation risk and can even lead to life-threatening situations. It damages the brain cells and causes them to die eventually, which leads to several complications. It also results in reduced neuroplasticity, which is responsible for an individual's personality. Brain inflammation also leads to a reduction of neurotransmitters, without which the body cannot function.


Depression also has a link to reduced blood flow to the brain. As a result, the organ does not get sufficient oxygen supply and other nutrients to perform its functions. The brain is susceptible to the amount of oxygen supply, so it can also lead to permanent brain cell damage. Inflammation, injury, and death of brain cells can result from the brain not receiving adequate amounts of oxygen. These changes in the brain, in turn, affect learning, memory, and mood.

Ways To Manage

As depression is a progressive condition, it is essential to manage it as it will damage the brain and trigger suicidal thoughts in the person. Therefore, it is recommended to get help instantly. Some of the ways to manage this condition include:


Lifestyle plays a preeminent role in determining the progression of this condition. Even if one is not suffering from depression, adding meditation to the daily routine is recommended. Meditation has been shown to alter specific brain regions associated with depression. Adding at least 30 minutes of meditation to the daily routine helps protect the hippocampus and other significant brain parts.

Eat healthily

Although there is no specific diet associated with tackling depression, one can always follow a healthy diet routine as it will keep other organs healthy and supply enough nutrients to the brain. In addition, adding antioxidants to the daily diet can prevent cell damage.

Talk therapy and medication.

As simple as it may seem, talking and sharing thoughts effectively manage depression. Individuals should recognise and change negative thoughts and behaviours. People who are depressed frequently struggle with negative thought patterns. These thought patterns have the potential to influence our behaviour. One can seek help from doctors to manage this condition. Doctors may prescribe certain medications to ease the nerves and reduce the damage based on the patient's state.

Proper sleep

As sleep and depression are linked, getting enough sleep can significantly tackle the condition. It helps the brain get enough rest and manage mood swings. Therefore, getting at least 7 hours of sleep regularly is recommended.

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