Your Life Experiences Affect Your Brain’s Health

Often we blame food, chemicals, and medications to the decline of our neurologic functions. Researches would note the significance of the type of food we eat and how it affects our brain functions. Clinical tests would also reflect the implication of medications and heavy metals and chemicals to the deterioration of cognitive functions. Little did we know that one of the most looked into cause of brain function depletion are our experiences in life, especially those that are devastating, traumatic, and horrifying which leads to depression. Depression causes measurable changes in the areas of the brain that brings about abnormal function. A depression not only makes a person feel sad and dejected – it can also damage the brain permanently.
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Depression causes mood swings and later would progress to difficulty with cognitive functions such as remembering things, difficulty in making decisions, planning, setting priorities and taking actions. Brain imaging studies using MRI scanning show that these common day-to-day depression symptoms are associated with abnormalities in specific areas of the brain, including the hippocampus (the memory center), the anterior cingulate (the brain’s conflict-resolution area), and the prefrontal cortex (involved with planning and executing activities). Depression is highly associated with the activities of the part of the brain called the limbic system. This area is particularly responsible for emotions, physical and sexual drives, and the body’s stress responses. Aside from the very bold effect of depression to a significant part of our brain it has also been correlated with the activities of our brain’s special chemicals called the Neurotransmitters. These chemicals are responsible in transmitting information from the external environment into our brain to be converted and expressed through our senses. When a person is in a depressive state these neurotransmitters are in abnormal levels hence, the ability of the brain to function is also disturbed. Recent researches found out how depression increases the risk for Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia. The levels of cortisol has been found to affect the hippocampus, the region that is responsible for new learnings and short-term memory. Though the correlation has been investigated, the relationship of the effects of depression in the development of Alzheimer’s and Dementia is strong.

Knowing these series of facts, we need not only to take in consideration, food, drinks, medication and chemicals to be culprits of neurologic degenerative diseases but also we need to take in consideration the importance of life experiences and how we cope with it. The higher our coping mechanisms are, the lower our risk to have depression. Hence, we decrease neurologic and cognitive problems as we grow old. We need to live life in a very positive note and provide a very strong support system through our families and friends.
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References:

1. Sybille Hildebrandt. Depression can damage the brain. December 1, 2011; 05:21

2. David Hellerstein M.D. Depression and Anxiety Disorders Damage Your Brain, Especially When Untreated. Heal Your Brain. July 14, 2011.

3. Stephanie Pappas. Depression May Increase Chances of Getting Alzheimer’s. July 21, 2010 .

4. http://www.allaboutdepression.com/cau_02.html

5.http://psychcentral.com/news/2013/05/04/depression-linked-to-later-vascular-dementia-alzheimers/54472.html

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