The link between depression and inflammation

Scientists in Canada have discovered what may be a game changing factor in the successful treatment of clinical depression. They documented that in a comparison of brain scans between those with depression and those without, that there was a significant level of inflammation present in the brain of those with depression. Depression is one of the most difficult illnesses to treat as its cause is as yet unknown. While there is medication for it, it is not effective for everyone.

30 to 50% of patients with depression don’t respond to medication

A large majority of people diagnosed with clinical depression do not respond to medications. There are many other therapies that have limited success with alleviating symptoms, but these new findings could go a long way to explaining why medication may not work for most. It also stands to redefine depression and how it is diagnosed. Central to really understanding the impact of this study is determining the onset of the inflammation, does it come as the precursor or the result of the depression?

How the brain responds to trauma or infection

Inflammation is the natural response of the brain to trauma or infection. It is when inflammation stays after the initial incident that it becomes indicative of a greater issue at hand. Some life choices such as career can also have an effect on the amount of time you will deal with symptoms. Dentists (who are known for depression) will commonly suffer from inflammation for longer periods of time than say somebody in the automotive business. What scientists are trying to determine now is how prevalent is the inflammation in populations with a diagnosis of depression versus the population without. If clinical depressionthere is a prevalent rate of inflammation in those with depression, then this will lead to the next question – which came first?

Which comes first?

If the inflammation is present in many people who have depression, then the next question is whether the inflammation is a symptom or a cause of the depression. Either will result in a radical reconsideration of how we treat depression. If the inflammation is the cause of the depression then there is a physiological treatment that needs to be found. If the inflammation is a symptom of the depression, reducing the inflammation rate may also reduce the symptoms of the depression.