Researchers from the Rosalind Franklin University found that severe stress could have hazardous effects on human brain and possible lead to depression.

Their studies on rats showed that stress rats suffered did not prevent new brain cells to be generated but it did prevent the cells from surviving. Death of new cells leaves the brain with new neurons for processing feelings and emotions and could possibly lead to depression.

The study results also showed that these cells did not die right away but that it took them 24 hours. The researchers are hoping that they could use this time gap to prevent acute stress from contributing to mood problems. They are hoping that they will be able to administer treatment during this time to prevent cells being lost.

In the second part of their study, the researchers marked newborn cells in the hippocampus and subjected rats to stress a week later. At the end of the month they counted a third fewer fully developed nerve cells.

Their next step will be to try to investigate how stress reduced the survival of the new nerve cells and determine if antidepressant medications might be able to keep these vulnerable new neurons alive.