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Depression and anxiety affects the brain

Georgia residents may be interested to hear that according to numerous studies, almost 50 percent of individuals who have a one mental illness also suffer from a second mental illness concurrently. For example, if an individual has depression, they may also exhibit symptoms of other mental illnesses, such as anxiety. For this reason, researchers have funneled their efforts to determining the risk factors that point to mental illnesses.

To that end, a study was performed at Duke University to see if there were any commonalities behind all mental illnesses. The study, which examined more than 1,200 undergraduate students, who all suffered from at least one kind of mental illness, revealed that there were differences in the cerebellum. Participants in the study underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and completed a mental health assessment.

The correlation between the mental illnesses these individuals exhibited was referred to as the "p-factor." The higher the p-factor, the more apt a person was to have more than one mental illness, and their condition was often more severe.

The study also revealed that the higher the individual's p-factor, the less grey matter they had in their cerebellum. The cerebellum was usually considered the area of the brain in charge of motor function, rather than emotion, making this conclusion surprising.

In addition, the higher the individual's p-factor, the more it affected the connections between the individual's cerebellum and the individual's prefrontal cortex, which is generally associated with reasoning. According to researchers, these results may show that having one or more mental illnesses affects a person's ability to monitor and respond to information from the outside world.

This study is an interesting analysis of how having a mental illness affects a person's brain. In the end, what can be taken away from it is that mental illness has a physical component. It affects the "wiring" of a person's brain, and is not something that a person can get over simply by pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. Even having one mental illness can render a person severely dysfunctional. Those in such situations who cannot work due to their medical condition may want to seek the advice of a Social Security Disability attorney to see if they can benefit from applying for Social Security Disability benefits.

Source: Science Daily, "Wiring of the 'little brain' linked to multiple forms of mental illness," April 11, 2017

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