The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) estimates that 14.8 American adults are affected by a major depressive disorder in any given year; that’s about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population of individuals over the age of 18. Despite the overwhelming statistics, depression is a complicated disease. It affects individuals of all ages and can occur at any time and for any reason; depression is much more than just “being sad.” A recent study suggests that depression may occur when the microglia in the brain changes.
The best way to describe microglia is simply as the “brain’s immune cells”. Microglia makes up 10% of all cells within the brain and fights bacteria and viruses in the brain. Just like other cells in our body, microglia promotes repairing and healing of damages caused during a brain injury or other trauma.
Changes in Microglia
Researchers report that microglia may change when an injury within the brain occurs. Like other “fighting” cells, the microglia assume an “activated” state, change structure, and secrete compounds that result in an inflammatory response. However, when microglia is overworked, some cells may die, weakening the remaining cells. Depending on the state of the microglia, overworked or suppressed, researchers suggest that specialized treatment should be considered when prescribing medication. It’s also important to note that the overaction or declination of microglia can lead to depression, not one state over the other.
Brain Injury and Depression
According to Tate Law Firm, not only can a traumatic brain injury lead to costly medical expenses, lost wages, pain, impairment, and rehabilitation costs, but it can lead to depression.
When an individual suffers a brain injury the results may vary from barely noticeable to severe and life changing. Some TBI sufferers don’t experience depression until after the “typical” symptoms go away.
For instance, when someone slips and hits his or her head, the brain injury symptoms may include confusion, dizziness, and sensory issues. These symptoms may last a few days, a few weeks, and maybe even longer. Over time, additional symptoms, such as depression, may occur, worsening the condition. Depression can be isolating, life changing, limiting, and even deadly if left untreated; it is a leading disability for millions of people across the world.
TBI & Depression Treatment
Since TBIs vary from person to person, they cannot and should not be treated the same. While some mild injury sufferers have success with psychological therapy, others see and feel improvements with medication. Severe TBI sufferers are more likely to undergo complex procedures such as surgery or a long-term medication plan.
Individuals, who have suffered a TBI, should keep their mental health in check and keep track of what is normal. Many doctors will agree that a TBI can result in a roller coaster of emotions right after the injury occurred, but if intense emotional changes continue medical treatment should be considered. Understanding how the brain was injured can help doctors prescribe an effective treatment plan and help individuals successfully manage their depression.