Depression – A New Finding May Unlock The Mystery Of Depression

Number of reported cases of depression continues to grow despite the best efforts of the brightest medical minds. But perhaps there is some light at the end of this very dark tunnel as brain scan technology continues to unveil some clues as to why treatments have been less than effective up to this point.

According to a recent study conducted by the National Institute of Health one clue lies in the area of the brain known as the hypothalamus.

The hypothalamus is located near the center of the base of the brain and directs workings of the autonomic nervous system, which regulates vital, involuntary functions such as blood pressure, appetite, body temperature, sleep, and thirst. The hypothalamus also directs the hormonal activities of the pituitary gland.

It also is the area of the brain which many of the most prescribeddepression and anxiety medications targets. Sometimes successfully and sometimes not successfully. What the NIH found in a study using advanced brain scan technology on laboratory mice is that in order for depression medications to be effective new cells must be generated in the hypothalamus. They also found that new cell generation doesn’t necessarily occur automatically.

In this study exercise was used successfully to produce the required new cell generation needed for successful treatment of the condition.

So this very preliminary research seems to suggest that exercise helps improve the success rate of many depression medications. That said, there is a distinct possibility that certain popular prescription medications for depression will not work without at least a menial amount of new cell production.

For years it has been known that exercise helps the body produce feel good endorphins such as serotonin that helps reduce depression andanxiety and is often recommended by doctors for those with depression. But by no means is exercise the only action that can help boost mood.

Other examples would be exposure to light, nostalgic smells, eating chocolate in moderation, massage therapy, a stimulating positive conversation, helping others and meditation.

But the question here is do these other activities boost new cell production in the hypothalamus in the same way as exercise does? Is it possible that herbal and homeopathic remedies for mild depression and anxiety could trigger the hypothalamus to produce new cells? Could the NIH finding in fact be the reason that omega 3 fatty acids, found in abundance in cold water fatty fish and fish oil supplements, seem to help with depression?

At this point no one really knows but this latest research is certainly an exciting area of mental health research worth keeping a close eye on both from a convention medicine point of view as well as a natural health perspective.