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New treatments for Depression as the physical source is finally discovered

A study carried out by the University of Warwick, UK, and Fudan University, China has discovered the physical root of depression.

The research shows that depression affects the part of the brain called the lateral orbito frontal cortex, which is related to non-reward. This is why sufferers of the disease feel a sense of loss and disappointment associated with not receiving rewards.

This part of the brain becomes active when rewards are not received. It is also connected with the part of the brain which is involved in one's sense of self, therefore often leading to thoughts of personal loss and low self-esteem.

Additionally, depression is associated with reduced connectivity between the memory systems in the brain and the reward brain area in the medial orbitofrontal cortex. This can result in a reduced focus on happy memories.

This new information will change the way depression is treated. Doctors can now go to the root cause of the illness, and help depressed people to stop focussing on negative thoughts.

In a study of almost 1,000 people in China, participants had their brains scanned using high precision MRI, which analysed the connections between the lateral and medial orbitofrontal cortex—the areas of the brain affected by depression.

Professor Jianfeng Feng states that depression is becoming increasingly common:

"More than one in ten people in their lifetime suffer from depression, a disease which is so common in modern society. We can even find the remains of Prozac (a depression drug) in tap water in London."

"Our findings, along with the combination of big data we collected around the world and our novel methods, enables us to locate the roots of depression which should open up new avenues for better therapeutic treatments in the near future for this horrible disease."

Professor Edmund Rolls is excited about what this research could lead to:

"The new findings on how depression is related to different functional connectivities of the orbitofrontal cortex have implications for treatments in the light of a recent non-reward attractor theory of depression."

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