Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences




Major depression is the second most impactful condition on overall health in the United States, affecting approximately 9 million commercially insured Americans. Depression rates are increasing as time goes on, especially in adolescents (12-17). From 2013, the rates of teen depression has risen 63 percent (47 percent for boys and 65 percent for girls). Depression is a complicated condition and there are many factors that play into the progression of the disease, including environmental, genetic, and psychological factors. Adolescence is a developmentally critical period of brain development for plasticity and maturation of stress systems. Studies have suggested that there may be developmental periods in which exposure to stressful life events (SLEs) cause cell sensitivity to epigenetic changes that affect gene and protein expression long term. Thus, these changes may render adolescents more vulnerable to psychiatric disorders. Variations of certain genes may allow certain people to be more susceptible to psychiatric disorders when exposed to an early SLE than others. However, there are studies that have demonstrated that children who have had SLE have no particular mental health problems in adulthood. These individuals would be considered “resilient”. Resilience is the brain’s capacity to cope with environmental stress and achieve stable psychological functioning in response to prolonged stress. Understanding the numerous neuronal mechanism in different parts of the brain is pertinent, in that it may lead to the susceptibility of depression. A literature review was done on stress’s effects in different regions of the brain and how it may contribute to the progression of depression later into adulthood.