A study conducted by Canada’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) suggests that major depressive disorder could be neurodegenerative and it gets worse with age.
According to the study, long-term depression physically alters the brain. The study depicted that untreated depression over the years shows brain inflammation compared to those who had less than 10 years of untreated depression.
For the study, brains of 25 persons with less than 10 years of depression, 25 with more than 10 years of depression, and 30 people with no depression.
The first two groups were either been on medication for at least four weeks before being scanned or not been on any medication.
People with more than 10 years of untreated depression had thirty percent higher levels of translocator protein (TSPO)—a biomarker of brain inflammation produced by the brain’s immune cells.
“Major depressive disorder is the leading cause of death and disability in moderate-income to high-income nations, and a substantial proportion of this burden is attributable to the clinical progression of this disorder,” said Dr. Jeff Meyer.
“There is a paucity of empirical data to show the greater magnitude of pathophysiologies with greater duration of illness in patients with major depressive disorder, which is a fundamentally important limitation in the literature supporting a neuroprogression model.”
He elaborated on the fact that diseases such as Alzheimer’s are not degenerative, whereas depression progresses over the years through diverse stages and each of these stages requires different treatments.
The centre in Canada is further investigating the use of anti-inflammatory drugs as a treatment for the later-stage major depressive disorder.
The study was published in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry.
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