A new study has been carried out that has indicated why some people respond to stress with depression, and some can naturally cope a lot better.
An area near the front of the brain, the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) has been associated with depression for a long time, but it has not been known whether high activity in this area of the brain causes depression, or whether depression causes the high activity.
A new study of mice has indicated that having an extra active mPFC can create a vulnerability to depression.
The mPFC is part of the prefrontal lobe that has a lot to do with thinking about a person’s self, their lives, their future, stresses that they are under, all of which are trains of thought associated with depression.
By applying repeated electric shocks to the feet of mice that they could not escape, researchers were able to cause depression in around twenty percent of the mice. This was shown by them not escaping when presented with a way out, whereas 8 out of 10 mice did.
These 20% of the mice were found to have higher than usual activity of the mPFC, and by repeating the experiment with mice that already had highly active mPFCs, researchers found that more mice ended up in the depressive state.
This draws the link between depression and a naturally active medial prefrontal cortex, but doesn’t give any concrete evidence for whether this stands for humans or not. It has been found however that practices like mindfulness reduce the activity in the mPFC, as it teaches people to be less concerned with the self.
Further studies will need to be carried out, but these findings open up new avenues of research into effective depression treatment. In the meantime however, mindfulness and meditation are great ways to reduce stress and depression in your life.