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I recently told my therapist that I was going to come up with an automatic response to unintentional hurtful comments that come my way, so that I don’t have to absorb them and stew over them hours after the conversation is over. When someone says something to the effect that “it’s a shame that person X has to take medication to deal with depression because she hasn’t learned how to train her mind yet,” I am going to say this, a paragraph that I will memorize and practice saying to a mirror:

I understand what you are trying to say, but recovering from depression isn’t as simple as thinking the right thoughts. Depression is a result of organic changes in specific areas of the brain, especially in the limbic system that forms the brain’s emotional center. Did you know about all the cell death and shrinkage in the amygdala and hippocampus regions of the brain that occur with depression? And depressed folks have a diminished capacity for nerve generation, so the faster the person is treated for depression the better. Each day with depression damages more nerve pathway. 

Thanks to high resolution PET scans and MRIs, some psychiatrist and neurologists can identify specific circuits of the brain, regional patterns of brain activity, that distinguish depressed people from non-depressed. You can actually see a scan of it! And the genetics of mood disorders is promising, as well! Did you know there has been great success locating and identifying genes associated with schizophrenia and OCD? Researchers have confirmed a role for the gene G72/G30, located on chromosome 13q, in some families with bipolar disorder, and also evidence for susceptibility genes on chromosome 18q and 22q! Psychiatric geneticists have been able to mark a narrow area on chromosome 15 as having a tie to depression. I think it’s just great that further studies will point to biochemical pathways of disease and could lead to new treatments, don’t you? It’s been nice talking. I have to run.

I posed this question as a discussion thread in Group Beyond Blue. To visit the discussion click here.

To read more Beyond Blue, go to www.beliefnet.com/beyondblue, and to get to Group Beyond Blue, a support group at Beliefnet Community, click here.

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