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Depression pulls individuals into a dark abyss of fatigue, melancholy, and hopelessness. After recovery from a time of depression, there is brightness again. Some resilient individuals can recover with therapy or medication, but some are finding that the glow of their life isn’t quite as bright as before. They tell their doctors that they just don’t feel quite right and want to feel like themselves again.

Researchers have found evidence that supports the fact that some people who have suffered from depression are not the same person they were before-even after symptoms have subsided.

Cognitive Changes

Bo Jacob Hasselbalch of Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark found that depression leaves the brain a little foggier and slower. Even after recovery from noticeable depressive symptoms, cognitive functioning is still lagging behind. Hasselbalch’s team compared 38 individuals that were in remission currently from depression with 50 control participants. When participants were measured by cognitive tests, individuals in current remission performed worse than those participants in the Control Group. Hasselbalch noticed the greatest deficiency in areas of attention, but also in visual perceptual processing and speed.

Researchers have found that people who have had depression often have a smaller hippocampus, an area of the brain related to memory. A protein called BDNF, in the hippocampus, helps neurons grow. A lower level of BDNF in people with depression may be the reason for the smaller hippocampus.

Some who have recovered from depression have had trouble with their memories. While some memories related to their depression may haunt them, some individuals have found that they suffer from short-term memory loss. Researchers are still investigating the complexities of how depression affects the brain’s neurons and impairs the memory.

Challenging Fear

After an individual has experienced depression, an assortment of post-depression emotions often will challenge them. Fear and anxiety may make them more cautious or cause them to avoid certain places or people that they associate with their depression.

Individuals may fear they will relapse into their darkness even though their major depression symptoms have disappeared. These emotions put up a road block that limits what the individual will attempt and experience in life.

Returning to "Normal"

Those who have been through the turmoil of depression just want to feel like themselves again. Researchers say that although some residual effects will remain from depression, some individuals will completely recover and never have depression again.

Researchers recommend that doctors check patients carefully with tools such as a formal rating scale for depression symptoms. They also believe that healing the entire individual-body and mind-will help discover any underlying symptoms or problems that may be holding the person back from healing.

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