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Depression and Mental Health

  • August 20, 2015

For years medical professionals have studied the link between depression and physical health. The results of these studies have varied, but one thing is certain, taking good care of your body helps you protect your mental health. Many dentists and doctors are willing to take that a step further and say that caring for any one part of your body should be consistent with caring for your whole body. What’s the number one recommendation for ensuring lifelong mental and physical health? It will likely come as no surprise that the answer is preventive care.

What is Depression?

Many people believe that the cause of depression is loss of brain cells or incorrect chemical responses, but actually, depression is typically linked to reduced connectivity between brain cells. The hippocampus conducts reaction and connects different parts of the brain. In the past, patients with diagnosed depression were known to have reduced hippocampus due to decreased connections to surrounding cells, but it was never known whether the smaller hippocampus caused depression or if depression caused the hippocampus to recede. A recent study conducted by the ENIGMA-MDD Working Group, revealed that patients with recurring incidences of depression actually sustained brain damage that caused links between the hippocampus and their brain cells to diminish leading to ongoing depression, memory loss, and difficulty concentrating among other adverse effects. The good news is that the hippocampus has proved to be extremely resilient. Restoring the lost cell connections with medication or lifestyle changes can return the hippocampus to healthy function.

Inflammation the Mind-Killer

The discovery that reduced hippocampus size was caused by depression lead researchers to question why patients became depressed in the first place. Chronic inflammation was found to be the most common stimulus for depression with vitamin D deficiency running a close second. Perhaps not coincidentally, vitamin D helps to control inflammation. You may be thinking that inflammation is supposed to heal the body not hurt it. You’re right. As a response to injury, inflammation is a good thing. It’s your body’s way of healing itself. However, if parts of the body are constantly injured without time to repair between injuries or inflammation occurs without cause, it can be extremely detrimental to health. Chronic inflammation has been cited as a cause for numerous systemic illnesses, and avoiding or reducing chronic inflammation has been viewed as the best way to extend life expectancy.

Whole Body Care for a Happier, Healthier Brain

Doctors recommend certain behavioral changes as the first course of action to decrease inflammation, restore hippocampus function, and increase mental health and happiness. The first step to feeling healthier and happier is to change your daily routine. Studies showed that sitting for more than 7 hours a day is extremely harmful to the mind and body. Increased exercise and activity helped to remove stress hormones and regulate insulin production and use. If you are interested in learning about how oral health effects your whole body health, call Lanap & Implant Center of Pennsylvania today.