Our lives today are often more stressful than ever; longer working hours, less leisure time, pressure to achieve targets, less tolerance of mistakes and fear of losing your job, or difficulty in finding a job in the first place all contribute. Some people claim stress is “all in the mind” some people claim to never get stressed yet probably do (me included). It is already agreed that stress can cause fatigue, affect your personal life and has numerous psychological effects including depression.
New research from Yale University now supports this hypothesis showing that it causes changes in the brain at a genetic level. In tests on rats subjected to chronic stress it was found that the gene that controls production of neuritin was less active and the rats showed symptoms of what would be called depression in humans. Stimulation of neuritin production triggered an improvement greater than the use of conventional anti-depressants. This also protected the rats from changes in the brain structure too such as shrinking of the hippocampus.
As well as further demonstrating that stress is a major problem this research also provides hope for new and more effective anti-depressants.