Anxiety and depression results in substantial volumetric brain differences
When anxious and depressed an area of the brain increases in size, a new study in the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience determined.
In the study, initiated by a research group at the Australian National University, the brains of over 10,000 participants were examined.
In examining the effects of anxiety and depression on brain volume, researchers demonstrated an impact on the hippocampus region of the brain associated with cognitive health. Depression reduces the size of this brain region, the study found.
In a different brain region, the amygdala, researchers also determined that the co-occurrence of anxiety and depression led to an increase in its size. The amygdala is mainly responsible for emotionality.
“We found people who have depression alone have lower brain volumes in many areas of the brain, and in particular the hippocampus,” said Daniela Espinoza Oyarce, the study’s lead author.
“Anxiety lowers the effect of depression on brain volume sizes by three percent on average—somewhat hiding the true shrinking effects of depression.”
In spite of the findings, however, more research is necessary to fully understand how anxiety reduces the effects of depression in the brain.