Depression: Brain, Body & Beyond

Glenda MacQueen, MD, PhD, FRCPC

Brain Plasticity, Brain Architecture, Stress

October 2010

Although it’s relatively simple to recognize and diagnose, depression is a complex condition that affects multiple brain regions and causes both mental and physical symptoms. Dr. Glenda MacQueen of the University of Calgary explains why some people are more vulnerable than others to depression—which can be sparked by life events at any stage—because of the interplay between their genes and their early life experiences. She then describes how new research on the neurobiology of depression can help predict which patients will respond best to routine treatment. Research has shown clearly that toxic stress affects the brain and body, and that mental illness itself affects physical health. Dr. MacQueen describes some of the physical conditions associated with psychiatric illness, including chronic pain, cardiac disease, diabetes, and obesity.

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