Is major depression a neurologic disorder with psychiatric symptoms?

Epilepsy Behav. 2004 Oct;5(5):636-44. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2004.07.008.


In the last decade, multiple investigator groups have identified structural changes of various neuroanatomic structures in patients with idiopathic major depression and bipolar disorders. Using high-resolution MRI of the brain and functional neuroimaging studies (i.e., PET, SPECT), researchers have described decreases in the volume of hippocampal formation, amygdala, entorhinal cortex, various frontal lobe structures, and basal ganglia, in addition to abnormal cerebral blood flow and metabolic activity in these structures as well as in thalamic nuclei. Similar structural and functional changes have been identified in patients with depression associated with a variety of neurologic disorders (i.e., stroke, Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, Alzheimer's dementia). In addition, recent data have shown that depression is a risk factor for the development of several neurologic disorders, including epilepsy, stroke, and Parkinson's disease and bears a negative impact on the course and outcome of most neurologic disorders. This article reviews these data and provides evidence that major depressive and bipolar disorders may in fact be neurologic disorders with psychiatric symptoms.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Depressive Disorder, Major / pathology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / physiopathology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Nervous System Diseases / pathology
  • Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Nervous System Diseases / psychology*
  • Risk Factors