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A recent breakthrough may have found the physical source of depression in the brain. The discovery could lead to some game-changing developments in the way we treat and perceive the mental illness, while also taking a bold step in understanding the physical root cause of depression.
Research by the University of Warwick in the UK and Fudan University in China has shown that depression affects the lateral orbitofrontal cortex. This part of the brain becomes active when suffering punishment or when rewards are not received, suggesting depression could be associated with the sensation of not receiving reward.
(...) This imaging technique was able to show activity in the connections between different parts of the human brain affected by depression, namely the medial and lateral orbitofrontal cortex. The lateral orbitofrontal cortex, associated with non-reward, showed considerably stronger connectivity in those in the depressive group.
As the team notes, the lateral orbitofrontal cortex is also connected with the area that is associated with one's sense of self. Stronger connections were found between these two areas in those suffering from depression, perhaps explaining why people with depression often have thoughts of personal loss and low self-esteem.