Depression is a complex disorder. About 30 million Americans have had at least one incidence of serious depression in their life time.
Depression can be associated with traumatic events in your life, such as loss of a loved one, stress and hormonal changes, infections, specific medicines, or drug/alcohol abuse. Recent researches have shed new lights on different causes of depression.
Depression Is Linked With Inflammation.
Anyone who has suffered a viral or bacterial infection understands what it means to feel sick. Sickness brings on fever and nausea, lack of appetite and loss of interest in physical and social surroundings. Sick people tire easily, and have deprived sleep. Additionally, they feel sad and irritable; agonize from shortened attention span and temporary memory loss.
Just as terror is normal in the face of a predator, sickness is a normal response to infection prompted by factors named inflammatory cytokines/markers created by body's immune and inflammatory cells.
There is a growing evidence to suggest that inflammation is associated with depression. Here is some of the evidence:
--Increased levels of inflammatory cytokines can stimulate depressive behavior.
--Inflammatory cytokines can enter the brain and alter the levels of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin in the brain.
--Amounts of inflammatory cytokines are much higher in people facing stress, anguish, sadness, and other difficult emotions.
--Higher levels of inflammatory markers preceded the beginning of depressed mood in a senior population with no psychiatric history.
--Depression is frequently connected with a variety of factors (e.g., psychosocial stress, medical illness, obesity, poor diet, diminished sleep, social isolation) that are known to result in an increase in inflammatory markers.
--Depression is a recognized complication of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
--Depression shares similarities with 'sickness behavior', a normal response to infection or inflammation.
--In cancer and hepatitis C patients receiving immunotherapy, depression appeared in up to 50% of patients.
--Neurochemical findings in autopsy studies suggest an inflammatory component to depression.
--Medications with an effect on the immune system can affect mood.
Inflammatory Cytokines Play An Essential Role In Depression
Researchers do not know why inflammatory cytokine levels are higher in depressed and anxious people. They speculate that psychological stress can change blood pressure and heart rate. These stress-related changes can lead to the production of cell signaling molecules that stimulate cytokine production. Other source of elevated inflammatory cytokines include smoking, fat-rich diet, and being overweight.
Numerous scientific observations implicate inflammatory cytokines have a key role in depression. Inflammation may trigger, aggravate, and extend depression through:
--Hyper-responsiveness to acute stress
--Weakened immune system
--Neuronal damage and neuron death
--Impaired neuron revival
--Enhanced neuronal toxic end products
Links Connecting Depression And Inflammatory Diseases
Accumulating studies have shown compelling relationships among depression and well-known inflammatory or autoimmune diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Therefore, it is important to realize inflammation as a common factor that may cause multiple health issues.
Depression is a recognized risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease, as well as an independent predictor of poor prognosis following a heart attack. For example, patients with heart disease are three times more susceptible depression than the general population.
Stress could be a hidden trigger that causes the development of both depression and heart disease. Stress can precipitate depression by activating the nervous system, interrupting heart rhythm, increased tendency for clotting of the blood, and intensified inflammatory responses, all of which negatively influence the cardiovascular system.
Inflammation that impairs both the disease and the tendency towards depression is observed in diabetes and cancer. While negative emotions may not increase the risk of advancing diabetes or cancer, they could intensify these illnesses.
There is evidence that once you have cancer, psychological stress and depression can worsen the cancer through increased levels of inflammatory cytokines. Research proves that inflammatory cytokines can cause resistance to chemotherapy, accelerating the conversion of tumor cells into full-blown cancer. Some cytokines appear to encourage the establishment of new blood vessels that feed tumors, the key process in tumor metastasis.
Several large studies showed the evidence that patients with COPD are at an increased risk of developing depression. Despite advances in various treatments, the death rate associated with COPD has doubled in 30 years. The existence of anxiety and depression has been linked to increased death, weakened functional status, and decreased quality of life.
Of people who suffer from Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome (IBS), more than 20% have depression. Evidence also suggests depression can worsen IBS.
Links Connecting Depression And Inflammatory Skin Disorders
Depression is commonly accompanied with inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis, acne and rosacea.
Psoriasis is a hyper-proliferative inflammatory skin disease that often appears as thick, red, flaking patches. Several studies have established that depression is a widespread challenge among psoriasis sufferers, which can modify the progress of psoriasis as well as the effectiveness of treatments.
The connection between depression and acne has long been documented, especially in teenagers. Acne increases the risk of depression and suicide attempt. Depression can also exacerbate acne.
Control Of Inflammation Represents An Innovative Approach To Relieve Depression
Evidence shows that inflammatory cytokines induce not only signs of sickness, but also true disorders in susceptible individuals and physically sick patients despite the fact that they have no previous history of mental disorders.
The findings that inflammation can actually initiate depression and various chronic disorders suggest that targeting inflammatory responses could be a novel strategy to treat depression and associated health concerns. Various studies are under way to treat symptoms of depression with anti-inflammatory drugs including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Encouraging results have been achieved by inhibiting inflammatory cytokines in psoriasis and from the treatment of COX-2 inhibitors in patients with depression.
Natural Treatments For Relief of Inflammation And Depression Symptoms
For decades, NSAIDs have been widely recommended for various aspects of flu-like symptoms or sickness-related behaviors. Unfortunately, 25% of NSAIDs users encounter severe and sometimes fatal complications such as stomach ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding. The newer NSAIDs such as selective COX-2 inhibitors (Vioxx and Celebrex) have been associated with an increased risk of severe adverse cardiovascular events including heart attack and stroke.
In this scenario, the good news is that safer approaches are available. You can control depression and anxiety without the side effects of antidepressant drugs or NSAIDs! Nutrients, anti-inflammatory herbs and herbal remedies have been demonstrated to relieve depression symptoms.
By keeping inflammation under control, anti-inflammatory remedies may:
--Improve sleep and diminish headaches and anxiety
--Help rebuild the balance of nitric oxide and prostaglandins, which contributes to the severity of depression, anxiety, and sexual dysfunction
--Repair the body's antioxidant defense
--Enhance the vascular healing and repair
--Reestablish vascular cell function and integrity
Millions of people go undiagnosed or untreated for depression. Without treatment, depression may remain for 6 months or longer, with increased occurrence and severity of episodes.
If you feel the pain from depression, or your symptoms of depression continue despite the treatment of anti-depressant drugs, or your anti-depressant drugs become less efficient, you may need to recognize inflammatory sources and benefit from anti-inflammatory treatment.