Researchers show that brain function can diminish in those suffering from mood disorders.
It can be difficult to focus when you are suffering from depression or anxiety. A new study reveals that you are not imagining things- brain function does in fact diminish in certain areas leading to what is commonly referred to as ‘fuzzy thinking’.
The University of Michigan School and Depression Center recently published their findings in Oxford’s Journal of Neurology. Researches found that the part of the brain responsible for reasoning and working memory (collectively called ‘executive functions’) has different levels of activity in normal people and in people suffering from bipolar disorder or depression.
The scientists recruited 612 female participants to take a simple test. Nearly two-thirds of them had suffered or were suffering from some sort of mental affliction, such as depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety.
The women were to perform cognitive tests by reacting to a certain series of letters that would flash across the screen. Meanwhile, the researches took brain scans of the right posterior parietal cortex- the part of the brain responsible for executive function.
While several women with mental diagnosis did as well as the healthy participants, nearly all of the worst performers had some sort of mood disorder.
“In all, we show a shared cognitive dysfunction in women with mood disorders, which were pronounced in the cognitive control tests and more nuanced in scans,” said lead author Kelly Ryan, a neuropsychologist, in a press release.
In their conclusion, the researchers went on to describe depression and bipolar disorder as different phases on a continuum of the same mental disorder.
“These findings support the idea of seeing mood disorders dimensionally, as a continuum of function to dysfunction across illnesses that are more alike than distinct,” said Kelly Ryan. “Traditionally in psychiatry we look at a specific diagnosis, or category. But the neurobiology is not categorical – we’re not finding huge differences between what clinicians see as categories of disease. This raises questions about traditional diagnoses.”
For those suffering for ‘fuzzy thinking’, medical professional recommend that easing your schedule, eating a nutritious diet, exercising, and getting an adequate amount of sleep each night.
“Reducing overt stress, both emotional and environmental, and learning positive coping mechanisms are terrific therapy for the brain, and your lifestyle and daily schedule may be the first place to start when thinking about what may be causing your mental fog,” said Marcelle Pick, a nurse practitioner writing for Women to Women.