Is Inflammation the Root Cause of Depression?

Depression

Did you know that chronic inflammation can play a major role in your mental health? If you or a family member is suffering from conditions, such as depression, it could be due to significant inflammation in the body. This is something that can be countered naturally with the help of alternative medicine practitioners.

According to a study published in 2012 in the Neuropsychopharmacology journal, depressed patients have been found with inflamed cytokines and acute-phase proteins. The development of depressive symptoms have also been tied to the administration of inflammatory stimuli. In the research, it shows that interactions can occur between inflammatory cytokines and multiple pathways that directly affect your mental state, including the monoamine metabolism, snaptic plasticity, neuroendocrine function and neurocircuits. These are all known to assist with regulating your mood.

Other contributing factors include your diet, stress levels, leaky gut, and an imbalance of regulatory and pro-inflammatory T cells. You can consult with alternative medicine practitioners to learn more.

How Inflammation Causes Depression

In one model, it’s believed that depression results from inflammation because your body is attempting to protect itself from an inflammatory response. This process uses neurotransmitters and hormones. Various depressive symptoms can ensue, including alterations in perception, metabolic changes, flat mood, avoidance and slowed thinking.

The cytokines found inside of your blood, as well as inflammatory messengers like interleukin-1, CRP, TNF-alpha and interleukin-6 can predict or correlate to depression. For instance, when you have depression or bipolar disorder, your white blood cells promote the secretion of cytokines, while at the same time decreasing cortisol sensitivity (the stress hormone). Cortisol is also responsible for acting as an inflammation buffer.

Both inflammatory agents release info to your nervous system, stimulating your vagus nerve, which links together your brain and gut. When inflammation is present, brain cells known as microglia become activated, which then leads to decreased production of serotonin and melatonin and an increase in NMDA. This is an amino acid that can bring forth anxiety and agitation.

Improve Mood with Anti-Inflammatories

In a study, patients with rheumatoid arthritis were given immune targeted drugs, then brain scans. The results showed their brains’ neuro-chemical circuitry had changed significantly. This opened up pathways that would help ease depression. Evidence also shows those with overactive immune systems don’t respond as well to anti-depressants.

There are various methods alternative medicine practitioners use to help patients battle depression. Some may offer services like chelation and hormone replacement therapy.