New research in Canada reveals that inflammation deep in the brain may be linked to depression. Specifically, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) studied the brain scans of patients with depression and those without. Results showed 30% more inflammation in the brains of patients with clinical depression. In addition, symptoms worsened with the degree of inflammation. Keeping in mind that researchers only studied the scans of 40 patients, concrete conclusions are a tad premature.
Nevertheless, this research does offer new ideas for investigation, which could uncover other possible causes for the illness as well as potential new treatments for depression. In other words, perhaps reducing inflammation in the brain may alleviate or eliminate the symptoms. This is exciting news for the individuals that do not respond to medication, which, according to this research, consists of 30 to 50 per cent of patients!
“Inflammation is part of the complex biological response of vascular tissues to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, or irritants.
[…] The purpose of inflammation is to eliminate the initial cause of cell injury, clear out necrotic cells and tissues damaged from the original insult and the inflammatory process, and to initiate tissue repair.
[…] Too little inflammation could lead to progressive tissue destruction by the harmful stimulus (eg. bacteria) and compromise the survival of the organism. In contrast, chronic inflammation may lead to a host of diseases, such as hay fever, periodontitis, atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and even cancer (e.g., gallbladder carcinoma).”According to Dr. Jeffrey Meyer of CAMH, it is theorized that the body of patients that have suffered some type of infection or trauma may have healed, however the brain has not had the opportunity to recover. This may explain why patients with certain types of inflammatory disease, such as lupus, are several times more likely to develop clinical depression.
Of course, it is still unclear whether the inflammation in the brain occurs before depression sets in or as a result of the illness.
Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depression, major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and depression may make you feel as if life isn't worth living.
During these episodes, symptoms occur most of the day, nearly every day and may include:
- Feelings of sadness, emptiness or unhappiness
- Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
- Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities, such as sex
- Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
- Tiredness and lack of energy, so that even small tasks take extra effort
- Changes in appetite — often reduced appetite and weight loss, but increased cravings for food and weight gain in some people
- Anxiety, agitation or restlessness — for example, excessive worrying, pacing, hand-wringing or an inability to sit still
- Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming yourself for things that are not your responsibility
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
- Frequent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
- Depression is a common mental disorder. Globally, more than 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression.
- Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the global burden of disease.
- More women are affected by depression than men.
- At its worst, depression can lead to suicide.
- There are effective treatments for depression.
Depression (major depressive disorder)