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Hidden Inflammation Can Trigger Depression

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depression, inflammation, c-reactive proteinIt is impossible to address the ills of the human mind without also looking for what problems may exist in the body. A recently published study, which included 73,000 Danes, has shown that inflammation, whether the result of an illness or unhealthy lifestyle, can affect your mood, leading to depression. Scientists from Herlev Hospital and the University of Copenhagen isolated c-reactive protein (CRP) that, when inflamed, leads to a two to three times increased risk for depression.

‘The risk of inflammation increases by unhealthy lifestyles, obesity and chronic diseases. Our message to people is that one should avoid getting into a situation where you have an increased amount of inflammatory proteins in the body,’ says the leader of the research project Borge Nordestgaard, a professor at Copenhagen University and consultant at Herlev Hospital.

The Archives of General Psychiatry published the results of the study which analyzed blood samples of two populations, monitoring levels of CRP as far back as 1991.

Participants with CRP levels above 3mg/ liter were shown to have a stronger stress response, increased use of antidepressants, and more hospitalizations for depression. This group accounted for 21% of the total population.

‘Our discovery gives us more knowledge about depression. It shows that there is an interaction between our body and our mind, and that disease in one system may compromise the other. And it’s not really surprising when you think about. It provides a way, good sense,’ said Nordestgaard.

Although the correlative link between depression and inflammation was clearly identified, the actual mechanism at work remains unclear.

Another study, led by Professor of Psychiatry Poul Videbech from Aarhus University Hospital, is also looking at the link between inflammation and depression. His group is currently examining the connection between heart disease and depression.

‘If we can dampen inflammation using antidepressants called SSRIs. It may be that the arthritic drugs which reduce inflammation, may have an antidepressant effect. If you give it with antidepressants, so look both seem to work better. Inflammation is extremely interesting in terms of both heart disease and mental illness,’ said Videbech.

‘It’s a really hot topic. Several studies from many research groups around the world suggests that inflammation associated with depression. There has made some attempt to suggest that the inflammatory parameters affect the formation of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain – a neurotransmitter that controls our moods.’

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wium-Andersen M, (2012) ‘Elevated C-Reactive Protein Levels, Psychological Distress, and Depression in 73 131 IndividualsElevated CRP Levels and Psychiatric Illness’ Archives of General Psychiatry DOI: 10.1001/2013.jamapsychiatry.102

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