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Is There A Link Between Depression And Inflammation?


Depression can negatively change your outlook on life, leaving you with a lack of energy and little hope for the future. It is true that most people do have odd bouts of feeling blue. However, if this ‘down’ feeling lingers longer than just a few days, you could be suffering from clinical depression.

Researchers have been studying the link between mind and body, leading to insights into the condition of depression. Research has uncovered that depression is more than merely psychological ─ it involves biological and physical aspects, too. Depression could even be triggered by an allergic reaction to inflammation.

What Are The Symptoms Of Depression?

Symptoms can vary from person to person and may include some of the following:

  • A loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Withdrawal from social events
  • Pervasive sadness
  • Lack of energy
  • A feeling of worthlessness
  • Increased eating or drinking
  • Suicidal thoughts

What Is Inflammation?

Inflammation is not all bad; it’s the body’s way of reacting to an infection or a virus. With that process, immune cells and proteins, such as lymphocytes and macrophages, are released into the blood to protect affected areas. Cytokine, a type of protein, is also released, facilitating intercellular communication. Researchers have found that people with depression have an overload of cytokine proteins.

What Causes Inflammation?

Inflammation is not only caused by an infection or even an injury ─ it may also be caused by eating certain foods. High sugar and trans-fat diets can cause inflammation. In the case of overweight people, fat normally gathers around the waist. It is in this area that the body stores cytokines.

Treating Depression via Inflammation

Studies have found that many cases of depression are actually an allergic reaction to inflammation. As such, a new approach is needed to treat depression, rather than simply a neurological approach (for instance, psychotherapy, medication, and electroconvulsive therapy). Instead, the inflammation should be treated. Anti-inflammatory medication could be added to antidepressant medication to augment treatment, offering better results. In addition, these medications need not be chemical.

Natural anti-inflammatory treatments include omega-3 or turmeric, which will keep the cytokines at bay. Supplements should be taken in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise. Beware of manufacturers who sell inferior supplements. Instead take a look at unbiased review sites such as Consumer health review for comprehensive assessments on the safest products.

The implication of this approach is that depression should preferably not be seen as a mental illness, but rather as an infectious disease. A blood test should be developed to indicate the level of inflammation.

Bottom line

Depression is currently seen as a mental illness and thus carries with it a certain stigma. However, if inflammation is the cause, we could combat this stigma and relate to depression in the same way we perceive an ordinary inflammatory disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Furthermore, in the future, there may be a vaccine developed to treat depression. This may still take years to achieve. However, this will not mean that traditional treatments for depression should be ignored.