Is Depression A Choice or A Mental Health Condition?


, , , ,
Is Depression Choice Mental Health Condition

Is depression a choice? Well, certainly not as it affects nearly 300 million people all over the world. It is a mental health condition that can affect your brain and health.

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

Neurologists previously 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 the hippocampus was found in the former.  

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?

Is Depression A Choice or A Mental Health Condition?

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 of 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 with 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 the 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
Depression Isn’t A Choice – Major Depressive Disorder

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 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 of your past self, and how you project yourself 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, careers, and everything in life. And the root is low self-esteem and negative perceptions about themselves and the people around them. 

depression no depression
Depression And Brain Damage

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!

Is Depression A Choice Or Condition?

When you think negatively your brain fantasizes about 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 toward 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 toward unfavorable outcomes. Sort of how an avalanche only goes faster and gets bigger when careening down a snow-covered mountain.

Some interesting statistics are available supporting the shrinkage of the hippocampus based on which researchers argue that such shrinkage parallels the change in the thinking process of people with depression. 

Is Depression A Choice or A Mental Health Condition?
Is Depression A Choice or A Mental Health Condition?

But, the important question is if it is difficult for someone with even a small percentage of reduction in the hippocampus to overcome negative thinking without the full capacity of their brain. 

Related: 8 Things You MUST Know To Understand Your Partner’s Depression

Depression Isn’t A Choice But You Can Change Your Outlook, Here’s How…

1. Be Mindful

The best antidote to depression is living in the present and connecting with the moment in the given situation.  

2. Increase your self-awareness

If you want to break free of a negative thought cycle, then you must first understand yourself. You need to realize your needs and wants and what you have and don’t have. The next step is acceptance!

3. Be grateful

Try to be grateful for whatever you have and accept it. No resentment, no regret, and no guilt. 

4. Seek support

The main reason why fighting depression or any other mental health issue is hard is because of the stigma attached to it.
The best thing is to talk with your loved ones as much as you can. They will be non-judgemental, moreover, they know you well and help you correct the negative view about yourself.

Related: Why Depression in Most Men Go Unrecognised

Talking to your near and dear ones can boost your confidence and instill hope that you will beat the depression. When your mind is clouded, you can’t see the light, but people around can always guide you on the way.  

5. Try Meditation and Yoga

According to researchers, meditation and yoga are useful strategies that can sharpen your brain and help you think smarter. These practices enhance mindfulness which can improve the neural connectivity in the brain circuit. 

Related: How Yoga Benefits You Physically and Mentally

Depression in the United States

Today depression is a matter of grave concern across the world. Globally, 280 million people (approximately) of all ages suffer from depression as stated by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Talking about the United States, the suicide rate is growing by leaps and bounds. Between 2000 to 2020 the suicide rate increased by 30%, as per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

Suicide is highly prevalent among Americans. On average, nearly 130 Americans die by suicide each day, that is 1 death every 11 minutes. And, depression has been found to be the major risk factor for suicide.

Related: Music Therapy for depression – how can it heal you?

A few years ago, public awareness about depression was very poor, and most used to think that this mental health issue is a lifestyle disease where people are just too weak to live or move ahead in life. Some had a misconception that Depression is a sign of mental weakness. 

Some still debate that depression is a disorder or disease. The fact remains that depression is a debilitating condition that drastically affects the lives of millions of people all over the world. It is a globally paralyzing factor contributing to deaths every year. 

Depression is more than just being sad, and it is not a symptom of weakness.  It isn’t discriminatory against race, gender, or ethnicity. It can affect anyone of any age and class, equally fatally.

Most importantly, depression is not a choice.

Depression Isn’t A Choice, It’s A Kind Of Brain Damage
Is Depression A Choice or Is It A Mental Health Condition?
Depression Isnt A Choice Pin
Is Depression A Choice or A Mental Health Condition?
Is Depression A Choice or A Mental Health Condition?
Is Depression Choice Mental Health Condition pin
Is Depression A Choice A Mental Health Condition pin
Depression A Choice A Mental Health Condition expin

— Share —

— About the Author —


  1. Laura Avatar

    Talk to your loved ones? Really? They will be non judgemental. On what planet?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Up Next

Unhealthy Guilt Syndrome: How It Affects Your Mental Health And Relationships

Unhealthy Guilt Syndrome: When Guilt Goes Too Far

Do you often find yourself feeling excessively guilty, even when you’ve done nothing wrong? If so, you may be struggling with unhealthy guilt syndrome. 

Ever wondered “Why do I feel so guilty over small things?” Guilt is an emotion that we all experience at some point in our lives. It can be a healthy emotion that helps us learn from our mistakes and become better versions of ourselves.

It can also serve as a reminder of our moral compass, nudging us to reflect on our actions and  right our wrongs..

Up Next

The 12 Stages Of Burnout: From Irritability To Exhaustion

The 12 Stages Of Burnout

Do you often feel exhausted, overwhelmed, and emotionally drained? Are you burnt out? You may be experiencing the 12 stages of burnout, a state of extreme stress that can have serious consequences for your physical and mental health. 

Let us explore the stages of burnout, learn how to recognize them, and discuss effective strategies for preventing burnout and maintaining your well-being. 

Understanding burnout

We live in a society where almost all of us are burnt out. We are physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted and often feel that we don’t have the energy to get up tomorrow morning and do the same things again. 

But what exactly is burn

Up Next

5 Lessons From The Happiest Countries In The World That Can Change Your Life

5 Lessons From the Happiest Countries in the World

5 lessons from the happiest countries in the world might just change your life for the better! Read on to find out how!

Happiness, a state of contentment and joy, is a fundamental aspiration shared by individuals across cultures and societies. It is a subjective experience that encompasses emotional well-being, life satisfaction, and a sense of fulfillment.

Happiness goes beyond fleeting moments of pleasure; it reflects a deeper sense of purpose and meaning in life.

Up Next

What Happens To Your Body When You Lie? 8 Physical Effects Of Lying

The Surprising Physical Effects Of Lying On Your Health

We all tell white lies from time to time, but have you ever wondered about the physical effects of lying? Have you ever wondered what happens to our body when we lie? Lies, both big and small, seem harmless but the consequences of lying build up over time.

It turns out that fibbing can have more than just social consequences. The physical toll that lying takes on your body can be quite alarming. 

Curious about what really happens in your body when you deceive others? Let’s take a deep dive into the surprising ways that lying affects our bodies.

What happens to your body when you lie

Up Next

Can Money Buy Happiness? The Relationship Between Money And Happiness

Exploring The Relationship Between Money And Happiness

Money can’t buy happiness, or so the saying goes. But is there any truth to this age-old adage? What if I told you money does buy happiness? The relationship between money and happiness is complex and not that straightforward.

Those who believe money cant buy happiness and those who believe money buys happiness are both equally right. The reality is that money is important for happiness, but whether money brings happiness or not is something we need to find out.

In a world where wealth seems to equal success, it’s easy to wonder about the relationship between money and happiness. Let’s explore how money and happiness are intertwined together.

Money cant buy happiness. Or can it?

Up Next

Finding Light In The Darkness: Top Mental Health Podcasts To Inspire And Support You

Top Mental Health Podcasts For Empowerment And Growth

Navigating a stormy sea of emotions? Are you searching for a lighthouse to show you the way towards mental well-being? Let us explore the top mental health podcasts that will empower and uplift your spirits. 

In this digital era, podcasts have become the lighthouse of hope, offering inspiration and support. It’s time to set sail on a transformative journey! Whether you listen to the best mental health podcasts on Spotify or any other platform, these can undoubtedly empower you to live a healthier and happier life.

Up Next

What Is Energy Psychology? Unleashing The Power Within For Mental And Emotional Well-being

What Is Energy Psychology? 5 Techniques Yield Amazing Results

What is energy psychology? It’s a new form of therapy that combines the wisdom of the East with the knowledge of the West to relieve you of your painful emotions.

In today’s fast-paced and stressful world, taking care of our mental and emotional well-being is of paramount importance.

Traditional methods of therapy and self-help have their merits, but there is a growing recognition of the profound influence that energy has on our psychological state.

Energy psychology, a relatively new field, is gaining attention as an innovative approach that combines Western psychotherapy techniques with Eastern practices to address emotional imbalanc

AI Chatbot Avatar
⚠️ Liza is in training with WMHA and may not always provide the most accurate information.