We’ve previously discussed the brain-altering effect of depression. Here’s a refresher before we get into interesting new findings:
Dr. David Hellerstein, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons wrote an article for Psychology Today. In that article he defined depression as a mood disorder and described how severe bouts of depression, known as “clinical depression” or “major depression” can last for days, weeks or even years. Those episodes can physically damage the brain. Link here.
Some, or perhaps most, of the cause of the damage is that depression can cause excess production of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that, among other things, increases blood sugar and suppresses the immune system.
A team of doctors from the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich Germany compared two groups for a period of three years. One was a group of healthy adults and the other group suffered from depression. The researchers found that depression sufferers had actual shrinkage of some neurons in the hippocampus, and apparently also in the prefrontal cortex. Recall that the hippocampus is involved in memory formation. Link here.
Now we have research from scientists at the University of Florida that establishes linkage between gut bacteria, depression and high blood pressure. Bruce R. Stevens, PhD, Professor in the Department of Surgery, in discussing the findings said “We believe we have discovered new forms of high blood pressure. The gut could now be a novel target for preventing, diagnosing and treating hypertension and depression.” He went on to say: “Based on their gut bacteria, we can identify whether or not people belong to a group of patients who have hypertension and depression”.
The research team noted that the discovery of different profiles of gut bacteria among healthy people, people with high blood pressure and depression, people with depression without high blood pressure and people with high blood pressure without depression. This distinction is significant according the them because it could change the approach physicians use to diagnose and treat depression and high blood pressure.
The research team called us humans “meta-organism(s)”. That is, a complex, intercommunicating system of trillions of bacterial cells that coexist with a roughly equal number of cells in the human body. We’ve discussed that previously here, but that researcher labeled us “holobionts” rather than “meta-organisms.
I’m not crazy about either label.
What’s the takeaway? Eat the healthiest diet you can stand. And here is a link to Seven Ways To Fix Your Gut And Help Your Brain.
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