Depression Could Be A Physical Condition, Not Just Mental


Depression is not just of the mind, but also of the body, according to some researchers. Scientists who concluded to this decision have argued that inflammation caused by the immune system heavily contributes to the cause of depression.

“I don’t even talk about it as a psychiatric condition any more,” George Slavich of the University of California said. “It does involve psychology, but it also involves equal parts of biology and physical health.”

When people feel “down” while they’re ill, the drag is nature’s reason for people to avoid spreading damage or infection. Behavior like tiredness, boredom and inactivity are all types of sickness behavior that those who are ill and those who are depressed share. Therefore, according to scientists, depression and sickness are both triggered by cytokines.

Cytokines, or proteins, often cause inflammation. So, when people become depressed because of this active protein, the process is very much like an allergic reaction. Some studies have shown that people can be put into a temporary depression when given a vaccine that causes a spike in inflammation.

One researcher, Turhan Canil of Stony Brook University, has even argued that depression is like an infection, but not contagious, disease since infections are most likely the culprit behind inflammation. It’s important to note that while infection is one cause of inflammation, a diet high in trans fats and sugar has also been shown to promote inflammation; obesity is another factor associated with such a diet.

By further studying and testing treatments for depression, it’s expected that a blood test to assess inflammation in depressed people could be developed in the next 5 to 10 years. According to Carmine Pariante of Kings College London, the test could allow proper treatment for depressed people.

Source: The Health Site / Photo Credit: Flickr

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