Psychiatric Confusion?

Mark Morin mmorin at
Wed Dec 29 05:54:19 EST 1999

"John H." wrote:
> <dag.stenberg at> wrote in message
> news:84cehu$c42$1 at
> >
> > The hippocampal regeneration result may have very little or nothing
> > to do with depression symptoms.
> >
> > Dag Stenberg
> Dag strikes again.
> Cf:
> Cortisol levels during human aging predict hippocampal atrophy and memory
> deficits
> nature neuroscience . volume 1 no 1 . may 1998
> brief extract:
> "Adrenalectomy at mid-life, with low-level glucocorticoid replacement,
> attenuates hippocampal degeneration and cogni-tive decline in rats 5 ,
> suggesting that elevated glucocorticoid lev-els directly contribute to the
> development of cognitive impairments. Together, these results strongly
> suggest that gluco-corticoid elevation partly accounts for individual
> differences in age-related hippocampal damage and memory defects in
> rodents."
> The glucocorticoid replacement is probably to maintain basal levels as this
> enhances cognition. A little stress goes a long way perhaps, too much and
> you might become the village idiot.
> Depression - stress - ...

Depression and stress are different constructs and manifest themselves
differently.  Deprssed people can be stressed and stressed people can be
depressed but depression does not = stress.

> My bet is that hippocampal atrophy is caused by the depressive symptoms
> which explains why depression lowers memory function.

I tend to prefer the more parsimonious solution.  We don't have any
evidence that depression alters hippocampal formations.  We do have
evidence that depression effects the attentional matrix necessary for
the encoding of memories.  It would be more parsimonious to say that the
memory deficits associated with depression are the result of attentional
deficits rather than hippocampal changes.

> --
> John
> Remove XXXX in reply address

In my experience, a diagnosis is an opinion and not a prediction.  What
would it be like if more people allowed for the presence of the unknown,
and accepted the words of their medical experts in the same way?  The
diagnosis is cancer.  What that will be, remains to be seen.
		Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.
		Kitchen Table Wisdom
Psychology FAQ (a work in progress)  mailto:postmaster at

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