Can the effects of depression be seen in the brain?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

Although it is not typically used to diagnose depression, electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) testing have been used to study how depression affects the brain's function. With EEG, electrodes that are stuck to the head send safe amounts of electrical currents into the brain, causing brain cells to react. Activity appears different in certain parts of the depressed brain—such as those responsible for behavior—than in the brain of a person who does not have depression. MRI studies show that the parts of the brain that control mood, appetite, sleep, thinking, and behavior are different in depressed people than in healthy people.

Special imaging tests, such as electroencephalography (EEG), can detect the effects of depression in the brain. The tests allow doctors and researchers to study the electrical activity of the brain. The activity of certain parts of the brain, such as those responsible for behavior, appears different in people with depression than in others who aren't depressed.

Continue Learning about Depression Diagnosis

Depression Diagnosis

Depression Diagnosis

Medical and mental health professionals generally do not use blood or brain tests to make their diagnosis of depression and instead rely on a physical examination, family history and questions regarding your depression symptoms. B...

ecause general feelings of sadness, fatigue and lack of interest in everyday activities can accompany many other conditions, including ADD/ADHD, anxiety and bipolar disorder, depression can be difficult to diagnose.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.