With upsetting life events from bereavement and unemployment to marriage breakdown, it is no wonder many people become depressed, yet, despite what life throws at them, others don’t. So are some people more prone to depression than others?
Recent research at the University of Pittsburgh has confirmed teenagers are more prone to depression than adults. Women are also twice as likely than men to suffer from depression, according to the World Health Organisation. More specifically, research in Canada has suggested older mothers are more prone to depression than younger women and another study at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, has surprisingly linked depression in women to a lack of red meat in their diet.
Researchers at Manchester University however believe it is all to do with resilience and have been studying the brain to figure out the nature and origin of resilience. Participants were divided into four groups based on whether they had experienced high or low stress lives and whether they had suffered from depression or not and their brains were scanned while performing memory tasks and looking at emotionally charged pictures. Although research is incomplete, they found people who are more resilient are more likely to recognise happy faces and less likely to recognise sad or fearful faces. More resilient people are also better at remembering positive words and pictures too. This suggests cognitive flexibility - our capacity to adapt our thinking to different situations - and the way our brains process and remember information, may play a key role in measuring resilience.
Resilience most probably encompasses the interaction between our genes, our body chemistry, the wiring of our brains, and our life experiences. However, it is hoped an understanding of resilience in terms of brain activity might offer ideas for new treatment or at least, ways to tailor existing treatments to the individual.
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