Inflammation Linked to Depression
It’s estimated that about 350 million people throughout the world are living with depression. For most people with depression, antidepressants and psychological treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) help control symptoms and improve quality of life. Now scientists are exploring a new possibility in patients for whom typical depression therapies don’t work. Could the body’s immune system be causing the condition?
The theory is this: an immune system response increases inflammation in the body and changes mood. Many people experience depression-like symptoms when they’re sick. Maybe those feelings are not just related to being ill—perhaps the chemicals involved in inflammation and infection during illness, a cold or the flu, for example, directly affect the brain and alter mood.
It’s estimated that 30 to 40 percent of people with depression have higher-than-normal levels of inflammation, determined by measuring certain inflammation markers in the blood. More studies are needed, but a direct link between the immune system and depression risk seems highly likely.
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