The brain indicated the severity of depressive symptoms at parting

European researchers found that within six months after breaking up with long-term partner in the brain are observed in complex disorders functional connections. To do this, they studied the brain activity of 69 people at rest: it turned out that the ability of individual sites to initiate the activity of the departments associated with them functionally, as well as the hierarchical structure of their work reduced with increasing severity of depressive symptoms. Such a comprehensive analysis of the connections of the brain can be used to predict the development of mental disorders due to the impact of stress factors to which the separation applies, write the scientists in the journal NeoroImage: Clinical.

Despite the fact that depression can develop without exposure to any external factors (in versions of the ICD adopted by the tenth up to now such a depression called endogenous), stress still contribute, and very large, contribution. Of course, in this case, first not talking about depression, a depressive episode, and under proper treatment it is quite fast. This, however, does not mean that the depressive episode is less painful: on the contrary, for him, in contrast to “internal” depression, typical of tearfulness and low mood.

While stressful factors contributing to the development of a depressive episode, do not apply to all people equally: for example, loss of a job, death of a loved one or the breakup of a romantic relationship that cause symptoms in one part of the population, can relatively easy be perceived by the other. It is therefore important to examine the basis of such influence — in other words, to determine the mechanism that leads to development of depression when exposed to a stressor.

In their work Sonsoles Alonzo Martinez (Sonsoles Alonso Martínez), University of Groningen, and his colleagues decided to focus on depressive symptoms after a breakup. Their study involved 69 volunteers aged from 18 to 25 years: every one of them broke up with long-term (more than six months) partner in the last six months before the study. Depression none of the participants not diagnosed, but they all filled a standardized questionnaire on the definition of depressive symptoms.

Scientists have suggested that the severity of depressive symptoms after breaking up can be determined by the functional relations of the brain to do this, they conducted fMRI at rest. In the analysis, the scientists did not use individual sections (areas of interest) of the brain, and concentrated on his complex work. For this they used a previously proposed method of analysis of brain activity that allows you to appreciate how every single part of the brain affects the activity of other related sites. Usually, plots are available, which activity at a specific point in a relaxed state above the other — and then analyzed the activity of the functionally related sites. Using this method you can evaluate the strength of functional connections and their nature, including from the point of view of hierarchy and reaction to external stimuli.

Data analysis showed that the severity of depressive symptoms is associated with impaired both spatial and temporal characteristics of the functional connections of the brain (at p = 0.05). So, the heavier the symptoms, the worse and slower parts of the brain regulate the activity of associated regions; also with more severe depressive symptoms had impaired functional hierarchy: in other words, specialise in particular functions, areas lose their explicit specialization, apparently, distributing the activity between other areas.

The authors concluded that the stress reaction to the breakup can change brain activity in a complex — and this, apparently, depends on the severity of the reaction. Since such a relationship is governed by the severity of the symptoms, such an analysis may in fact be a useful way to predict will develop if the person experiencing separation and such a stressful situation, depressive episode.

To study activity in mental disorders using fMRI not only at rest, but scanning with different stimulation. For example, the brain activity when studying patients with different emotions it is even possible to distinguish depression from bipolar disorder.

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