Home | News |

Brain's Hippocampal Volume, Social Environment Affect Adolescent Depression

Research findings by Amanda Guyer and colleagues hold important implications for prevention and intervention strategies.
Brain's Hippocampal Volume, Social Environment Affect Adolescent Depression

Amanda Guyer

Research on depression in adolescents in recent years has focused on how the physical brain and social experiences interact. A new UC Davis study, however, shows that adolescents with large hippocampal volume were more, or less, susceptible to feelings of depression depending on how unsafe — or conversely — protected they felt in their home and community environments.

Hippocampal volume refers to the overall size of the hippocampus, a brain structure below the cerebral cortex. Traditionally, research has shown that a smaller hippocampus is implicated in depression, but this study showed that a larger hippocampus may indicate a greater ability for adolescents to take advantage of the support in their environments and overcome fear, anxiety and depression.

“As adolescents with more severe depressive symptoms are at greater risk of developing clinically diagnosed depressive disorders in adolescence and beyond, our results have important implications for prevention and intervention strategies. With this knowledge, we can better prevent and treat depressive symptoms in the teen years,” said Amanda Guyer, professor of human development and family studies with the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain.  She is a co-author of the study.

Read a UC Davis news release about the findings.