A meta-analysis brings proof that depression also involves the immune system and its reaction to inflammation in the body. About 5,200 depressed patients and 5,083 healthy controls were analyzed. It is one of the most extensive studies due to the number of patients.
It is considered a meta-analysis not due to the high number of people, but due to a large number of studies, these patients were previously engaged. Approximately 110 reviews and each of them was aiming at different issues of depression: causes, effect, remedy. The new study puts it all into a unique perspective and brings accurate answers to its goal: inflammations and depression go hand in hand.
Inflammation is part of the complex biological response of body tissues to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, or irritants. It is a protective response involving immune cells, blood vessels, and molecular mediators. Maybe it is also a biological response to depression.
Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity. It can affect a person’s thoughts, behavior, motivation, feelings, and sense of well-being. People experiencing depression may have feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and, sometimes, suicidal thoughts. The core symptom of depression is said to be anhedonia. Anhedonia is the loss of interest or the loss of feeling of pleasure in certain activities that usually bring joy to people. Or maybe, the core symptom is inflammation.
The study on the link between depression and inflammation in the body
Researchers followed the tracks of several immune system parameters: 16 interleukins, tumor necrosis-alfa, interferon-gamma, transforming the growth of the factor beta, C-reactive protein. Higher levels of them in the blood mean high levels of inflammations in the body.
The study revealed that patients diagnosed with depression had higher levels of almost all these parameters. Only one of the sixteen interleukins showed a decrease. Two others, along with interferon-gamma and transforming the growth of the factor beta, showed no differences. Only four out of twenty parameters remained indifferent to depression.
This could lead to a different line of treatment for depression, that could involve an anti-inflammatory course. What remains unclear it the way the two follow each other. Does inflammation develop depression as a symptom? Or, does the inflammation causes depression?
When that is answered, maybe depression will no longer be one of the most common mental disorders. And perhaps the 10 to 20 percent of the general population experiencing a depressive episode in their lifetime will o longer be the case.
As our second lead editor, Anna C. Mackinno provides guidance on the stories Great Lakes Ledger reporters cover. She has been instrumental in making sure the content on the site is clear and accurate for our readers. If you see a particularly clever title, you can likely thank Anna. Anna received a BA and and MA from Fordham University.