Our brains interact with every function of our bodies, which is why it is often difficult to isolate particular relationships. Recently, however, some researchers and physicians are noticing a relationship between one of our bodies’ defense mechanisms and depression.
According to several studies, hormones released by the immune system and markers related to inflammation “were positively correlated with depression.” Simply put, the more depression we experience, the more inflammation will accompany it.[i]
Most of us with depression are well aware that aches and pains accompany our brain illness, and so will easily see the link between inflammation and depression, but but we may not be aware that depression often co-exists (or is “co-morbid”) with many other inflammation/immune disorders such as heart disease, diabetes, Chrone’s disease, autoimmune diseases, cancers, HIV, and Multiple Sclerosis.[ii]
A proposal published online in the journal Molecular Psychiatry even suggests that depression is a by-product of an evolutionary development intended to fight off infection, since inflammation is like an over-reaction by the immune system. Even when people with depression aren’t fighting an infection, their levels of inflammation are higher than normal.[iii]
Since stress can activate the immune system, it makes sense that depression is linked to the immune system response called inflammation. Some research actually suggests that by decreasing inflammation, depression can be reduced.[iv]
This evidence that depression and the immune system may be linked could lead to new approaches in the fight against depression.
[iii] Emory University. “Depression: Evolutionary Byproduct Of The Ability To Fight Infection?.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 5 Mar. 2012. Web.
14 Mar. 2012. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/242425.php