Depression Isn’t A Choice, It’s A Kind Of Brain Damage

Depression Isnt A Choice

Does depression cause brain damage or the other way round? This has been the topic of debate for years and finally, researchers have found evidence that persistence depression leads to brain damage and not vice versa. 

Neurologists previously had hypothesized that brain damage was a predisposing factor for chronic depression, but a new study published in Molecular Psychiatry sheds a different light on the subject.

In a study of 9,000 individual samples collected from the ENIGMA group database, researchers found a causal relationship between persistent depression and brain damage. Upon comparing the Magnetic resonance images (MRIs) of participants in study diagnosed with chronic depression (1,728 patients) and healthy individuals (7,199 ), shrinkage of hippocampus was found in the former.  

Depression Isnt A Choice Brain Damage

Specifically, the study found that those patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder, “showed robust reductions in hippocampal volume (1.24%) in MDD(Major Depressive Disorder) patients compared with healthy controls.” 

Related: 7 Warning Signs Of Depression That You Need To Know

What is the hippocampus?


The hippocampus is a small area of the brain that is located in the medial temporal lobe of the brain.  It is comprised of two halves, one which resides in each hemisphere of the brain. It plays an important role in the limbic system.

Hippocampus is the region in the brain associated with the creation of new memories and associating emotions to them. Its functionality also involves spatial navigation and the formation of long term memory. 

Inside the hippocampus resides the amygdala and its key role is to process and comprehend emotions. This part of the brain is attached to limbic system too and also functions to connect emotions to memories. 

Related: Understanding Depression With Beck’s Cognitive Triad

According to some studies on the brain and mental health, the amygdala and shrinkage of the hippocampus were linked with depression, but due to limitations like small sample size the results are not quite reliable. 

The hippocampus and depression

Researchers have found that in addition to its importance in forming and maintaining memories, the hippocampus is also pivotal in controlling emotions. 

Professor Ian Hickie, a co-author of the study and a renowned mental health campaigner, explains the hippocampus’ relationship to depression, “Your whole sense of self depends on continuously understanding who you are in the world – your state of memory is not about just knowing how to do Sudoku or remembering your password – it’s the whole concept we hold of ourselves”

Hippocampus depression

Professor Hickie further elaborates on the relationship between a shrinkage in the hippocampus and changes in behavior observed in animals from the past, “We’ve seen in a lot of other animal experiments that when you shrink the hippocampus, you don’t just change memory, you change all sorts of other behaviors associated with that – so shrinkage is associated with a loss of function.”

Those who suffer from depression usually have low self-esteem and lack of motivation in completing even day to day self-care activities like bathing, eating, combing one’s hair, or dressing. It is common for those suffering from depression to also have a deflated self-confidence, which simply refers to their negatively distorted self-image.

Consequently, it affects the process of creation and storage of memories, your perception about your past self, and how you project yoursel in the future. 

What is depression?

Depression is a mental health disorder (a type of mood disorder) characterized by persistently depressed or low mood or a complete loss of interest in activities causing significant impairment in daily activities.

People living with depression are pessimistic about their relationships, work, career, and everything in life. And the root is low self-esteem and negative perceptions about themselves and the people around them. 

depression no depression

The state of depression manifests through repetitively regretting your past and fearing the future and this is known as rumination. It is not a singular conscious choice. Thoughts and feelings are well connected. As you think, so shall you feel!

When you think negatively your brain fantasizes uncomfortable and unpleasant outcomes and vice versa when you think positively. In the case of people with depression, their mind is filled with a pessimistic outlook towards life.

Related: Untreated Depression Can Change the Brain Over Time – Study Says

The outcome of repetitive negative thoughts is cognitive restructuring where your brain alters your emotional reactions and behaviors towards unfavorable outcomes. Sort of how like an avalanche only goes faster and gets bigger when careening down a snow-covered mountain.

64 thoughts on “Depression Isn’t A Choice, It’s A Kind Of Brain Damage”

  1. What a BS article. At no time did they tell how/if the “researches” proved that it was depression that *caused brain damage and not the other way around.

  2. I would like to include this article in the bibliography of my paper, but after I saw “astrology” on the main menu of this site, I don’t take seriously neither this article nor anything else posted in this site…. Come on guys! astrology?? are you serious :)))

  3. You’ve got to make a decision to either go on medication or heal yourself.I guess meds may work for some but I believe with the help of God and self determination that you are not going to let this ruin your life you can heal yourself.Some people are so sensitive that you even have to be careful what you eat and drink.A healthy lifestyle and everyday prayer is certainly a good start and distance yourself from negative people.

  4. The title is at odds with the content of the article, implying that depression is caused by brain damage, the opposite of what the article is about. A good editor is needed.

  5. Ive suffered with depression and other mental illnesses since very early childhood. I also used to get severely beaten by my mother everyday which included being punched in the face and head, thrown down stairs, head slammed against walls. I believe I have suffered brain damage because of all of this

    1. Thank you all. No I’ve not talked to my doctor about it. I have a chronic illness which makes,me very forgetful and absent so it is probably just that. If I get any worse I’m going to my docs as my memory and other cognitive functions are getting worse but it is probably just my illness x

    1. Very likely……it also permanently affected your brain chemistry. It became your “normal”. I’m speaking from my own research about my own experiences. Sadly, I can’t be “cured” but you can learn to live with it without wanting to die or kill someone.

    2. But cant you reverse the camestry with constant happyines for exemple…like if you had only good thing in your life for next 5 years woud youre brain start to work dofrently..

    3. With depression it isn’t easy to feel the “good” that is happening because your brain doesnt have enough endorphins to be able to “feel” happy. You know nothing bad is happening, but you don’t feel happy…..Your brain chemistry makes you feel in the depths of despair. It isn’t the same as PTSD, which can cause depression too. Basically, they say it’s “anger turned inward” as a result of being powerless to change a chronically negative situation that you can’t get out of.

  6. Lees de verdere commentaren. Ook ik heb net als mijn moeder en meerdere andere familieleden aanleg voor seizoensgebonden depressies. Ook ik heb gemerkt dat mindfullness en andere vormen van positief benaderen je helpt bij het helen van het brein. Neuroplasticiteit is een mogelijkheid om beschadigde delen in de hersenen te vervangen door nieuwe paden aan te maken. Dit is volgend mij de reden waarom we zoveel extra hersenweefsel hebben. Daar maken we maar beperkt gebruik van. Dat zouden we meer moeten doen!

  7. Sierra Raye Buccellato Did you know that your response was very predictable… I’m not psychic… arguing for ones position to reinforce their interpretation of their personal experience… What do you think that does to ones brain? You tell me not to assume of what you think I think of you, however you are assuming what you think of me in how I think of you… Best wishes to you…

  8. Deborah: First, feel free to hop the fuck off my comment and post your reply directly to the page. Second, if you’ll refer to my comment to Thomas, I clearly stated the damage is reversible. Third, fuck you for being so rude and condescending.

  9. The wiring from depression can also be changed through neuroplasticity – our brains can be changed. We don’t need to hold onto the belief our brains are permanently damaged through mental illness – we can set up new neural pathways through using our mind in a positive way. Those who are interested – have a read of Norman Doidge – The brain that changes itself.

  10. Bull shit people! Let’s stop right here and and consider the source of this article… Come on now, critical thinking… There is some truth to that, however there is more truth that can liberate you… Do you own research! Here is a hint. The brain has neuroplasticity… Choose what you want to do with that….

  11. I could have told you that!
    I have suffered from depression most of my life!being unhappy, afraid, unloved/afraid and drugged and afraid will make/keep anybody depressed!

    1. Meme – check out the Lightning Process – you can change your cycle of psychological issues and there is a way out of it that will allow you to live drug free and smile because life can be good!

    2. Meme, I feel ya. I been there… I still struggle. The feeling unloved, and being afraid. Taking the meds and still feeling afraid. I was taking Prozac for a few months last winter and have only been off them for 3 months. And though it helped, I feel myself slipping back into the same pattern, but afraid to live on those meds all my life. Its a never ending battle. And those who have never experienced it don’t understand it. Its hard to explain it to my family. I so desperately want to. Lots of Love and hugs for you. I do try to practice saying positive affirmations from time to time. And I try to surround myself with positive people. Good luck! <3

    3. Lara Darwish being afraid all the time because of your mother that does not give a shit about you until this day she is 80-I am 60! My mother beat (belt shoe broom) me at least once a week! Usually more! Hence AFRAID! And hard headed

    4. Damn Meme, why don’t you walk away from the monster? You actually don’t OWE her a thing, like we tend to believe. Free yourself from that hell. Hugs.

    5. And don’t let guilt make you stay. Its ok to walk away from a parent, relative, friend or foe if they aren’t there for your greater good.

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