How Neurological Syndromes Damage Your Brain

Author: Hanah Gomberg

Editor: Jacklynn Nguyen

Artist: Kimberly Arinton

Millions upon millions of people suffer from neurological syndromes such as anxiety or depression. In 2017, 284 million people were estimated to suffer from clinically diagnosed anxiety, this number, unfortunately, grows every year. Due to the chemical imbalances, overstimulation, and under-stimulation in the brain, these disorders can cause real long-term impacts. For example, patients with depression disproportionately suffer from hypoxia, which is a lack of oxygen in their brains, causing potential inflammation and brain cell injury.

But what is the difference between feeling anxious and depressed from actually having anxiety and depression? Anxiety causes a disruption of the emotional processing center of the brain, thus compromising the limbic system which consists of the hippocampus, amygdala, hypothalamus, and thalamus. On the other hand, feeling anxious is merely a natural response to the world around you, which is usually completely healthy and part of human nature. Additionally, depression causes subcortical limbic damage, thus damaging the amygdala, hippocampus, and dorsomedial thalamus. In severe cases of depression, hippocampal volumes have been reported to decrease by 20%, whilst feeling upset or depressed would not have such drastic impacts.

It is important to note that there is no singular way to feel when experiencing anxiety and depression. These are diseases that affect different people at different rates, some people will feel it very strongly and will need medication to manage it while others will only feel it mildly and periodically. Although anxiety and depression are statistically shown to stem from death or loss of a loved one, divorces, and other traumatic events it is different for every person.

Overall, even though millions of people have anxiety and depression symptoms, causes and severity vary considerably throughout the population. There is also a vast difference between feeling anxious and depressed from actually being diagnosed with the neurological syndrome.

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