Neurological researchers have linked brain injuries and depression
to different psychological behaviors. Here is a short informational guide to help you better understand the link between brain functions, moods and behaviors.
Development of the Brain
The majority of brain development occurs before you are even born, while you are still in utero developing all the major organs and processes of the body. There is still some brain development and growth that occurs after birth though. Within the first five years of your life the volume of your brain expands in relation to the gray and white matter, usually showing an increase in the overall volume. During the middle part of life though, (generally ages 20-70) the brain shows a gradual decrease in several areas, including gray matter. The white matter appears to remain unchanged during the middle part of life. These changes may be due to trauma, brain injuries and depression, although scientists haven’t determined the exact cause yet.
As men and women go through different personal growth and developmental changes, the brain functions seem to change as well. For example:
- Adolescents going through puberty
- Women experiencing pregnancy and post-partum hormonal changes
- Women going through menopause
This has led researchers to the conclusion that any sign of trauma, including brain injuries and depression, can presumably change the overall development of the brain.
The Effects of Trauma on the Brain
While it was once believed that the brain was already completely genetically programmed at birth, researchers have now learned that the brain molds itself throughout a lifetime. It is affected both by genes and experiences. When you have a traumatic experience it can alter the chemistry and architecture of your brain. For example, people who have experienced the horrors of war may experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which may induce depression, flashbacks and trigger responses to everyday emotions.
The same is true for children who experience abuse or neglect in their life. These lasting stressors on the brain can permanently change memory and emotion. The hippocampus area of the brain, in particular, can be extremely sensitive to stress and environment. It may have once been thought that babies don’t remember, think or feel, but scientific research has proven that to be false.
Additional research and scientific studies have shown that the brain is affected differently
by brain injuries and depression dependant upon what stage of life they occur. While studies in this area are limited, there will definitely be more research to come. Doctors and scientists are learning more on the brain’s intricacies every day and as new information rolls out, the better off the human race is to treat these impairments.