The study forms part of a Wellcome Trust Initiative called Stratifying Resilience and Depression Longitudinally to classify subtypes of depression.

Source: UPI

A major scanning study by the University of Edinburgh found depression can lead to changes in the structure of the brain.

Depression affects one-fifth of adults in Britain and is the world’s leading cause of disability.

The study, published July 17 in Scientific Reports, consisted of 3,461 people who underwent a new technique known as diffusion tensor imaging to map the structure of white matter in the brain.

White matter is a vital part of the brain’s wiring and disruptions in it have been associated with problems with emotion processing and thinking skills.

Researchers found alternations in the white matter of patients with depression and the quality of the white matter known as white matter integrity was reduced in people with depression, but not seen in healthy participants.

“This study uses data from the largest single sample published to date and shows that people with depression have changes in the white matter wiring of their brain,” Heather Whalley, senior research fellow in the University of Edinburgh’s Division of Psychiatry, {link:said in a press release : “” target=”_blank”}.

Calling the study the largest of its type, the researchers say it could lead to better diagnosis and treatment of depression.

“There is an urgent need to provide treatment for depression and an improved understanding of it mechanisms will give us a better chance of developing new and more effective methods of treatment,” Whalley said. “Our next steps will be to look at how the absence of changes in the brain relates to better protection from distress and low mood.”