This is your brain on depression

A parent on the "Around The Dinner Table" online parent forum, Shawn, recently thanked another mother, Lydia, for showing her this dramatic picture. This photo helped her to visualize the cognitive and emotional lockdown of depression.

Not eating - even low levels of not eating - causes depression. The brain is not working well at all.

Any questions?


  1. Yes - what if the brain BEFORE starvation looked "odd". What if there were little flares of red all around it while the neurons charged about aimlessly? Would the depression (hugely damaging though it is) actually feel "better" than the alternative?

  2. Laura, there is an interesting study (one of many) that suggests anorexia has many of the features of psychosis - including structrual abnormalities in the brain, such as enlarged cerebral ventricles and deficits in gray & white matter (Powers, Simpson, & McCormick (2005), "Anorexia Nervosa & Psychosis" Primary Psychiatry, 12(4) 39 - 45). According to the article, these abnormalities may precede anorectic symptoms, and unfortunately, "do not all resolve with weight restoration."

  3. Anonymous,

    It is a fascinating topic, one I'm not sure the results are clear on yet. More studies on how the brain operated before the AN, after weight restoration, and years into the future.

    It seems to me that malnutrition would leave permanent scars. But it also seems as if there must have been something different about the brain to make the AN behaviors possible in the first place.

    Lots to know!


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