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“Adam, what we [experts] know about the brain, we could fit in a shot glass.” I’ll never forget the words a very well known therapist once told me as I sat in his office trying to understand my depression. Since that conversation, I’m never surprised when we unpack something new about our brains. There’s more we don’t know about the muscle in our heads than what we do know. Our brains are ripe for discovery.
Scientists recently scanned the brains of more than 900 people and what they learned is profound.
“The results suggest that feelings of loss and low self-esteem are tied to the functioning of the orbitofrontal cortex – a region of the brain associated with sensory integration, expectation, and decision-making.”
This study is fantastic news for depression sufferers for a few reasons. First, more medical professionals will take the physical treatment of depression seriously. They won’t just dump us to the back for psychiatrists to over-prescribe. More MD’s will be aware of the seriousness of this illness, and that’s good for everyone. Second, in identifying another source we can tie to our feelings, we will uncover new treatments that will help us heal.
“Our finding, with the combination of big data we collected around the world and our novel methods, enables us to locate the roots of depression, which should open up new avenues for better therapeutic treatments in the near future for this horrible disease,” Jianfeng Feng,computational psychiatrist from the University of Warwick in the UK and Fudan University in China.
There is evidence that spiritual, emotional, chemical, AND NOW physical things weigh on your psyche. That means we have more avenues to explore than we ever have. This discovery doesn’t make our depression any less complicated. What works for me may still not work for you. Maybe your depression will now show up on an MRI, whereas mine may still require more blood work and chemical treatments. And yet, someone else reading may need to discuss emotional trauma with a psychologist. Our brains are complicated and dealing with illnesses in the brain are just as complex. But today is a good day for science and depression sufferers because we’re continuing to root out these things. Depression can’t hide from us; we’ll now find new ways to beat it.
But even if you don’t share my enthusiasm for science and my optimism for future treatments, there’s a third reason this discovery is good news for you. This new data proves you didn’t screw up. It proves you aren’t weird. It shows depression isn’t just some stupid emotional problem a small number of people experience.
This new data now becomes further proof that depression isn’t something that we ‘just have to get over.’ It’s deeper than just some bummer feelings. Most of us struggling with depression are not surprised. We know we can’t just get over our feelings and live a healthy life. We are aware we can’t just ‘suck it up.’ But this study now proves to others, who don’t get it, what we’ve felt all along. That’s good news for those of us who feel misunderstood.
Depression is more like Diabetes than just some sad feelings, and we now have even more evidence of that. I’m excited for my fellow Depression Fighters out there. Things will change for the better.