New Study Sheds Light on Unexpected Trigger of Depression
A report by the Washington Post suggests that researchers have identified an unexpected source of depression — inflammation.
Depression, as we know, is a mood disorder that varies from person to person, and since it varies from person to person.
We can say the same for what triggers it, though we have come to recognize some consistent patterns across the board.
How inflammation in the body may explain depression in the brain https://t.co/ZhvihM5keL
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) February 24, 2023
The Relationship Between Depression and Inflammation
Naturally, a body’s response to an injury would be inflammation. Reports are now pointing towards inflammation triggering depression in the brains of some patients.
These findings suggest that the inflammatory process may trigger some patients’ depression.
These findings then shed light on research suggesting that in about 30 percent of depressed patients, there is a common factor: elevated inflammation. In turn, the observations associated with poor response to antidepressants.
Charles Raison told the Washington Post, “Activation of these inflammatory paths in the body and brain is one way through which depressive symptoms are produced.”
Raison is a human psychology, ecology, and psychiatry professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
As mentioned earlier, depression isn’t generic. Thus, it wasn’t the same for all its patients.
Andrew Miller, who bolstered the point, said, “It’s quite different depending on who and what they’re experiencing.”
Miller is also a psychiatry and behavioral sciences professor at Emory University School of Medicine.
Why Treating Depression is Challenging
Research has also uncovered that antidepressants that doctors usually prescribe can only treat about 30 percent of patients suffering from depression.
With this, there is a shadow of doubt on the effectiveness of the antidepressants administered to patients.
We’re now at the tipping point,” Miller said. “And we now know enough to begin targetting the immune system and its effects on the brain to address depression. We are there.”
Since we can now establish the connection between the two, the issue then would be if reversing it will offer any form of relief to the patients. A professor of psychiatry helped throw more light on this.
Treating Inflammation May Help Treat Depression
Though inflammation is a disease modifier, not necessarily the cause of the problem, “You have to take cautionary steps to get your therapeutic working which restores the circuitry and what’s happening in your mind,” Eleonore Beurel said.
Beurel is a psychiatry and behavioral sciences professor at the Leonard Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami.
In 2019, a meta-analysis covering almost 10,000 patients from 36 randomized clinical trials showed that different anti-inflammatory agents could improve depressive symptoms.
“Well, most clinical trials are not necessarily designed to compare inflammation levels of patients. They rather targeted analysis run post-hoc.
This analysis suggests that anti-inflammatories have the largest effect on depressed patients with inflammation,” Miller said.
For instance, one early randomized controlled trial by Miller and Raison showed that administering cytokine inhibitors to treatment-resistant depression patients only helped those with elevated inflammation.
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