03/17/05 — Depression linked to brain malfunction

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Depression linked to brain malfunction

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on March 17, 2005 1:46 PM

Members of the Wayne County Mental Health Association got a crash course Wednesday on brain functions during their monthly "Lunch and Learn" session.

The seminar was held at the county school administrative offices on Royall Avenue.

Dr. Edwin Hoeper, a local psychiatrist, explained how the underfunctioning of certain parts of the brain is related to many kinds of depression.

Hoeper has treated many kinds of depression during his career, but said that he now concentrates mainly on post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Historically, doctors have had a difficult time diagnosing what goes on in the brain of patients with depression, or with those that might end up committing suicide, Hoeper said. But advances in neuro-imaging technology over the past five or six years are giving doctors a clearer picture of what goes on in the brain, and how it correlates with depression.

Patients who commit suicide have a tremendous glial loss, Hoeper said. The glia are part of the connective tissue binding the nerve tissue of the central nervous system together.

He said that within the next decade, psychiatrists would have to become experts in the neuro-physiology of the brain, because treatments often targeted different parts of the brain.

When asked if higher unemployment rates could be associated with a higher rate of depression, he said yes.

"The worst thing you can do is sit and think," he said. "It will drive you nuts, and that's one of the reasons unemployment is devastating."

The next "Lunch and Learn" seminar will be April 13. People may call 735-3530 for more information or reservations for the free seminar.