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Depression, a scientific matter


Could the disorder result in a change in the structure of the human brain?

Research conducted at the University of Edinburgh has discovered a size reduction in the human brain’s white matter in an assessment of depression sufferers. The recent study (thought to be the largest of its kind) involved an analysis of over 3000 UK sufferers, specifically measuring by brain structure using MRI-based Diffusion Tensor Imaging. Having made comparisons with healthy subjects in the trial, researchers discovered significant disparities in the integrity of the white matter, which functions to process our emotions and thoughts.

“There is an urgent need to provide treatment for depression and an improved understanding of it[s] mechanisms will give us a better chance of developing new and more effective methods of treatment. Our next steps will be to look at how the absence of changes in the brain relates to better protection from distress and low mood,” declared Heather Whalley, one of the authors of the article that published the findings.


The research seemingly points to a physical element of depression as an illness, which could help to uncover its physical causes (something which scientists tend to highlight) as opposed to depression being arguably stigmatized as a purely psychological condition.

Callum Lawrence