The current drop in frequency of posts here at Depression Lab is down to a spell of depression on my part. Only last week I was saying how well I had been feeling for the past six months…big mistake! Â It’s a struggle to concentrate at the moment, so I’ll keep this post short.
A growing number of researchers seem to be abandoning the long-held view that depression is a brain disorder, and thinking instead about a whole body disorder. There is a lot of research now linking depression to inflammation, which is the body’s natural response to harmful germs, irritants and damaged cells.
I will come back to this topic when I feel better, but Depression Lab favourite Charles Raison (no, I didn’t name my dog after him)Â says:
Inflammation is a very complex set of reactions that traditionally occur when the bodyâ€™s immune system recognizes some sort of foreign invader. White blood cells called macrophages are activated and engulf the invader. This leads to the production of chemicals called cytokines that serve as messengers that travel around the body spreading the word that there is an invader. These cytokines activate various other mediators of the innate immune system. This is how you get things like fever, as well as pain and heat at the site of an injury.
There is some evidence that an increase in cytokines may contribute to the development and maintenance of depression.
Implications for treatment of depression
Researchers are now looking at whether anti-inflammatory drugs could reduce depression, withÂ celecoxib in particular showing promisingÂ results (mostly because of lack of side effects). Aspirin and ibuprofen are over-the-counter anti-inflammatories.
Might be worth a try?
The Guardian (January 2015) Is depression a kind of allergic reaction?
Psych Central Professional (2010) This Monthâ€™s Expert: Inflammation and Depression by Charles Raison, MD
V Valkonova et al (2013) CRP, IL-6 and depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies