Prevention & Recovery

Does inflammation cause depression?

By: Tralee Pearce

©iStockphoto.com Author: Canadian Living Credits: ©iStockphoto.com

Prevention & Recovery

Does inflammation cause depression?

By: Tralee Pearce
A little over 11 per cent of Canadians will experience the symptoms of clinical depression - including feelings of hopelessness, decreased energy and even thoughts of death - during their lifetime. And women will outnumber men by a ratio of two to one, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

So we’re all ears on the topic – especially when a new theory is being floated about what causes the debilitating condition.

Some causes of depression are well-known – traumatic life events, socioeconomic factors, workplace stress and chronic medication conditions are among those we’re closer to understanding. Others seem more elusive, such as brain chemistry and genetics.

But what if depression is, in a sense, an allergic or immunological reaction? What if it’s the body making the mind sick, not just the mind itself?

A recent piece in The Guardian drew attention to the work of George Slavich, a clinical psychologist at the University of California in Los Angeles.

"I don’t even talk about it as a psychiatric condition any more," Slavich told The Guardian. "It does involve psychology, but it also involves equal parts of biology and physical health."

The idea revolves around the role of inflammation in the body.

The body’s immune system triggers acute inflammation when fighting an injury or illness to help heal. But chronic inflammation – the kind that never really subsides – is known to be associated with serious conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, Crohn's disease and potentially many others.

Inflammation is the culprit

There also appears to be a link between inflammation and depression.

For one thing, in patients with either inflammation-related diseases or who are treated with medications that cause inflammation as a side effect, rates of depression are higher than the general population.

And there are preliminary studies that have found adding anti-inflammatory medicines to antidepressants “not only improves symptoms in people with depression, it also increases the proportion of people who respond to treatment,” according to The Guardian.

Similar effects have been found with omega 3 and curcumin, which is found in turmeric, as well.

Research is still pending, but it’s an intriguing idea we’ll be following.

In the meantime, of course, if you’re experiencing any symptoms of depression, please see your doctor.

Looking for more? Here are 5 natural ways to manage depression. Serena Ryder discusses her experience with depression.

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Prevention & Recovery

Does inflammation cause depression?

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