Stress is a significant factor in the development of depression. Evidence suggests that depressive symptoms are accompanied by real and detectable physiological changes. These changes may be caused by the stress hormone cortisol. One problem that may occur following chronic release of cortisol is a dysfunction to the glucose metabolism system. Evidence suggests that with certain forms of depression, especially unipolar depression, there may be the development of insulin resistance, characterised by an inability of the body to correctly pass glucose into cells. As glucose is pivotal to brain function, there is a suggestion that this dysfunction contributes to the development of imbalances in the normal function of the brain. One possibility is that exercise or diet could be a confounding variable. Both exercise and good diet are known to improve glucose utilisation and also reduce rates of depression. Therefore the poor glucose utilisation may result indirectly from poor diet or lack of physical activity.
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