Posted in Depression, Mental Health, Treatment

Depression is a serious mental health condition and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression affects around 350 million people across the world. Characterized by symptoms involving persistent sadness and irritability, depression not only takes a toll on the overall well-being and quality of life of depressed individuals, but also affects the lives of families, friends and the others around.

Researchers have been continuously working to understand the reasons behind depression. A recent study by researchers at the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, suggested an association between depression and the presence of an enzyme in the brain of the fetus. The study, published in the Molecular Psychiatry in November 2016, revealed the role of enzyme CYP2C19 in causing depression and functional and morphological changes in the brain. The enzyme found in the fetal brain and adult liver plays a significant role in regulating many neuroactive compounds, including antidepressants.

Study lead Magnus Ingelman-Sundberg, said, “We previously found that the CYP2C19 gene is expressed not only in the liver, but also in fetal brain. We described that transgenic mice that overexpress the human CYP2C19 in fetal life, in adult life have smaller hippocampus as well as an altered composition of nerve cells in the hippocampus and suffer from a higher level of anxiety- and depression-like behavior as compared to the wild type mice.”

Enzyme absent in 4% of population

The study aimed at analyzing the overexpression of the enzyme (CYP2C19) in altering the structure and function of the hippocampus, a central part of the brain that controls stress and emotions. The fact that the CYP2C19 enzyme is absent in 4 percent of the population and over expressive in 30 percent made the researchers interested in understanding the role of the enzyme in affecting brain functions.

The researchers conducted MRI measurement to record hippocampal volume, which is conversely proportional to depression severity. Larger the volume, lower the depression. Further, they evaluated tests of depressive mood for thousands of people and analyzed epidemiological statistics for suicide. The results indicated a larger volume of the hippocampus in cases where enzyme was absent or simply absence of the enzyme was associated with lesser degree of depression.

The other leader of the study Marin Jukic said, “These persons showed a lesser degree of depressed mode. Conversely, we found that increased activity of CYP2C19 was associated with higher suicidal incidences in depressed patients.” The results further revealed that the likelihood of an association between depression and hippocampal function developed in fetal stage. Fetuses without CYP2C19 enzyme have lower risk of developing depression and have larger hippocampi in adulthood.

Throwing more light on the outcome of the research, Magnus Ingelman-Sundberg said that the possible association between the presence of CYP2C19 enzyme and higher likelihood of depression can help in understanding new mechanisms for preclinical screening of new drug candidates for anti-depressant effect, particularly affecting brain areas related to emotions and stress.

Managing depression

At any given time, around 5–10 percent population battle identifiable depression requiring psychiatric or psychosocial help, according to a study published in Dovepress. Spreading awareness about depression can be an important factor in helping people manage their depression effectively. Patients with depression need to understand that treatment for this problem is possible and timely treatment will go a long way in helping such patients lead a normal life.

If you or a loved one is battling depression, contact the Depression Treatment Centers of California for seeking timely treatment and psychosocial support. Treatment should not be delayed as this might worsen the situation. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-678-0400 or chat online for information regarding California depression treatment centers.

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