People with Depression and Social Anxiety Have Thicker Anterior Cingulate Cortex, Research Reveals


REUTERS/Darren StaplesA man holds the antidepressant drug Prozac, also known as fluoxetine, in Leicester, central England February 26, 2008 in this posed photograph.

A research has revealed that people with depression and social anxiety share some common specific structural abnormalities in the brain.

A study conducted by researchers from Sichuan University in Chengdu in China has examined the high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans of 37 people with major depressive disorder (MDD), 24 with social anxiety disorder (SAD), and 41 people in good health. Looking for the differences in the gray matter of the brain by focusing on the thickness of the cerebral cortex, which is the outer tissue layer of the brain where processing of information happens, it was revealed that those with MDD and SAD have one part of their cortex, the anterior cingulate cortex, thicker than those patients with regular health.

While it remains unclear what the significance of the discovery is, Dr. Youjin Zhao, one of the researchers, suspect that it may have something to do with the compensatory mechanism of the brain. Nonetheless, the doctor also opined that the discovery may imply something else.

“Greater anterior cingulate cortical thickness could be the result of both the continuous coping efforts and emotion regulation attempts of MDD and SAD patients,” Dr. Zhao said.

Whatever the relevance of the discovery is, it is hoped that it will play an important role in the development of a more effective treatment for depression in the future. After all, based on records, more than 16 million…

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