Dr Manpreet Kaur Singh and a team of researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine are studying brain abnormalities that may link depression and early-life obesity.
In a recently published findings, they found that early-life obesity and depression may be driven by shared abnormalities in brain regions that process rewards.
Their findings, published online April 23 in Hormones and Behavior, are based on brain MRI scans of children and teenagers ages 9-17 who struggled with depressive symptoms and maintaining a healthy weight. The study is the first to document how concurrent obesity and depression are reflected in the brain in this age group, according to a report at Stanford Medicine website.
Young people who had both conditions had low volumes in two of the brain’s reward-processing areas, the hippocampus and anterior cingulate cortex. The participants’ brain abnormalities also were linked to their level of insulin resistance, itself a precursor to diabetes, the report noted.
“We want to help children and families understand that these conditions are brain-based phenomena,” the report quoted Dr Manpreet who is the study’s lead author. “We want to destigmatize these issues. Understanding that there’s a brain basis may help both children and parents be solution-focused.”
Dr. Manpreet is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and Director of the Pediatric Mood Disorders Program in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Stanford. Her time is divided among the clinical, research, and teaching missions of department.
She directs Stanford’s Pediatric Mood Disorders Clinic, which is an integrated multidisciplinary clinic that aims to treat youth with a spectrum of mood disorders along a developmental continuum.
She leads a team of child and adolescent psychiatrists, psychologists, child and adolescent psychiatry fellows, clinical and research postdoctoral fellows, residents, medical students, and research coordinators. Her research focuses on investigating the origins and pathways for developing mood disorders during childhood, as well as methods to protect and preserve function before and after the onset of early mood problems.
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