Understanding the Brain


Brain Damage Causing Depression & Effects on the Brain

Injury to: Amygdala, Thalmus, and/or Hippocampus

Resulting from:

  • Physical Injury: Redirected, Increased blood flow in the Amygdala.
  • Emotional Response to Injury: Struggling to adjust to temporary or lasting disability
  • Inherited Genes: Other factors present prior to injury.

Brain Areas of Concern applicable to Depression

  • Amygdala: Part of the Limbic system: Associated with emotions: Anger, Pleasure, Sorrow, Fear, Sexual arousal. Activated when a person recalls emotionally charged memories. Activity in the Amygdala is higher when a person is sad or clinically depressed.
  • Thalamus: Receives most sensory information and relays it to the appropriate part of the cerebral cortex, directing high-level functions: Speech, Behavioral reactions, Movement, Thinking, Learning.

  • Hippocampus: Part of the Limbic system: Processes long-term memory and recollection. The part of the brain that registers fear and later memory recall of that experience.

Behavioral Changes & Treatment

Notable Behaviors:

  • Impulsive Acts/Suicidal tenancies
  • Consistent & repeated Unhappy Mood, Loss of Interest, energy, appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Alternating between normal and depressed moods (Unipolar Depression)


  • Medications: (affecting the Monoamine transmitters - increases in Nephrine, Dopamine, Serotonin) Antidepressants: SSRI's - Sertraline, Citalopram or SNRI's - Venlafaxine.
  • Psychotherapeutic (Counseling): CBT - Cognitive-behavioral Therapy and/or Behavioral Activation Therapy
  • ECT - Electroconvulsive Shock Therapy (A procedure prior to SSRI's/SNRI's)
  • Other options: Exercise, Acupuncture, Biofeedback


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Breedlove, S., & Watson, N. (2013). Biological psychology: An introduction to behavioral,

cognitive, and clinical neuroscience (7th ed.). Sunderland, MA: Sinauer.

Fann, J.R., Hart, T., Schomer, K.G.. Treatment for Depression after Traumatic Brain Injury: A

Systematic Review. Journal of Neurotrauma 26:2383-2402, 2009 - See more at: http://www.msktc.org/tbi/factsheets/Depression-After-Traumatic-Brain-Injury#sthash.XCe6oZe9.dpuf

What causes depression? - Harvard Health. (2009, June 9). Retrieved November 11, 2015, from: http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/what-causes-depression