Greater depressive symptom severity linked to smaller amygdala volume in young adults

“A key brain structure that regulates emotions tends to be smaller in young adults with greater depressive symptoms, according to a new study published in Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging. The research examined the relationship between the amygdala, a pair of almond-shaped brain structures, and depressive symptom severity.

“Volumetric differences in several brain regions have been reported in people with depression. The amygdala is interesting because studies have reported smaller, larger and the same average amygdala volume in depressed people as compared to controls,” explained study author E. Sherwood Brown, a professor of psychiatry and director of the Psychoneuroendocrine Research Program at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

“Since the amygdala is involved in the processing of emotions, such as fear and anxiety, it is possible that depressed people might process more strong emotions which would, in a sense, make the amygdala work harder and increase in size. On the other hand, increases in the stress hormone cortisol in depression might be harmful to the amygdala and make it become smaller. Finally, it is possible that one might just have either a smaller or larger amygdala which alters processing of emotions and make one more vulnerable to depression.”:: Greater depressive symptom severity linked to smaller amygdala volume in young adults

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