Brain Health and Depression

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

When I was 1 year old I contracted Chicken Pox and Scarlet Fever. I had a temperature of 107*F for several hours. The doctors told my Mother that I would probably be a vegetable for the rest of my life. Thank goodness they were wrong. They considered my recover a “miracle”. Unfortunately not all things were rosy in my life afterwards. I was sexually abused at a young age and it went on for several years. Because of the abuse and several kinds of abuse over the years, I was diagnosed with PTSD in my late 30′s. I have had many different diagnosis over the years but PTSD has always been the first. I suffer from horrible bouts of debilitating depression and as I get older they seem to get worse. My question is if there is a connection between early brain health and major recurrent depression?

A. It is certainly possible that your brain was damaged as a result of a high fever but there is no way to know for certain. Thankfully, you successfully overcame that health trauma, against all the odds.

Your question is difficult to answer because there are many variables. In addition to the possible brain damage you may have sustained, you endured multiple abusive situations. Many individuals with depression have a history of abuse. There seems to be a definite correlation between the two but rarely can clear cause-and-effect relationships be delineated. Even if you were able to ascertain a definitive answer to your question, it would do little if anything to improve your depression. The “why” is often much less important than finding a cure.

If you are not in treatment, then you should be. Very effective treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) exist. You may also benefit from less traditional though often very effective treatments such as hypnosis or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). Hypnosis has been shown to help relieve depression, cure phobias and to heal traumas. It has also been shown to effectively reduce anxiety, the urge to smoke cigarettes and to assist individuals in achieving their weight loss goals. EMDR is a form of highly structured psychotherapy used to treat symptoms related to past traumas. Both types of therapies are certainly worth exploring.

Click the find help tab at the top of this page to help you locate a therapist in your community. If you choose to pursue hypnosis or EMDR, choose someone who has solid credentials and a proven track record. I’m sorry that I was unable to give you a definitive answer to your question. Please take care. I wish you well.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Mar 2011

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2011). Brain Health and Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/03/08/brain-health-and-depression/