The Link Between Inflammation and Depression

Whenever you have a cold, you are probably experiencing a sore throat, lots of coughing and frequent sneezes. However, all these symptoms are accompanied by loss of focus, fatigue, loss of appetite, restlessness, lower tolerance for pain and apathetic withdrawal. Studies show this pattern of sickness is stimulated by inflammatory markers that are released in response to the illness, in this case a cold. These symptoms run parallel to those that define depression.

Does Inflammation Cause Depression?
The link between inflammation and depression is still under research, though there is significant evidence that inflammation may cause depression.

Some researchers’ debate that this behaviour is part of the body’s healing process and everyone bounces back once the inflammation goes away. This means that depression is a symptom of inflammation, much like heat, pain, swelling and redness.

Why Inflammation and Depression Are Linked
Depression is frequently present in patients suffering from inflammatory illnesses. Also, increased inflammatory biomarkers are strongly correlated to depressive disorders. Broad spectrum antibiotics that are used to treat inflammatory conditions also increase the risk of depression. In response to this theory, there have been many studies where people suffering from inflammation responded to antidepressants. This shows that improving depression also improved their inflammatory conditions, providing another pointer with regards to the link between the two.

Since the scientific explanation for the link between inflammation and depression is still murky, let’s look at some statistics. People with inflammatory diseases, such as autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular diseases and cancer, all struggle with depression. 20% people suffering from cardiovascular diseases experience major depressive disorder. Someone who is diagnosed with diabetes has double the odds of developing depression. 1 in 3 people with autoimmune diseases, such as arthritis or lupus, experience depression. Lastly, 1 in 4 cancer patients are also depressed, while the others are at high risk.

Until science figures out the underlying causes of inflammation that cause depression, the above indicators are sufficient to conclude that the both are definitely linked. It’s possible that there is a particular set of people, whose conditions cause them to experience depression at the same time as they are experiencing inflammation, which means it’s not something that can be applied to the general population. On the other hand, if depression and inflammation are linked, we can sincerely hope that the pharmaceutical industry can come up with medicinal solutions for it in the not so distant future.

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