By: Dr. Mercola
Depression is thought to affect about one in 10 Americans.1 In 2010, antidepressants were the second most commonly prescribed type of medication in the US,2 hinting at the severity of the problem.
Contrary to popular belief, depression is not likely caused by unbalanced brain chemicals; however there are a number of other biological factors that appear to be highly significant. Chronic inflammation is one. As noted in the featured article:3
“George Slavich, a clinical psychologist at the University of California in Los Angeles, has spent years studying depression, and has come to the conclusion that it has as much to do with the body as the mind.‘I don’t even talk about it as a psychiatric condition anymore,’ he says. ‘It does involve psychology, but it also involves equal parts of biology and physical health.’ The basis of this new view is blindingly obvious once it is pointed out: everyone feels miserable when they are ill. That feeling of being too tired, bored and fed up to move off the sofa and get on with life is known among psychologists as sickness behaviour.It happens for a good reason, helping us avoid doing more damage or spreading an infection any further. It also looks a lot like depression.”
One researcher even goes so far as to suggest depression should be rebranded as an infectious but non-contagious disease,4 while the author of the featured article playfully compares depression with an allergic reaction—in this case “an allergy to modern life”—considering the many environmental factors that are known to cause inflammation, from diet to toxic exposures and stress.
Scientists have also found that your mental health can be adversely impacted by factors such as vitamin D deficiency and/or unbalanced gut flora—both of which, incidentally, play a role in keeping inflammation in check, which is really what the remedy to depression is all about.
As discussed in an article by Dr. Kelly Brogan, depressive symptoms can be viewed as downstream manifestations of inflammation.
“The source itself may be singularly or multiply-focused as stress, dietary and toxic exposures, and infection… [I]nflammation appears to be a highly relevant determinant of depressive symptoms such as flat mood, slowed thinking, avoidance, alterations in perception, and metabolic changes,5”she writes.
Certain biomarkers, such as cytokines in your blood and inflammatory messengers like CRP, IL-1, IL-6, and TNF-alpha, show promise as potential new diagnostic tools, as they’re “predictive6 and linearly7 correlative” with depression.
For example, researchers have found8 that melancholic depression, bipolar disorder, and postpartum depression, are associated with elevated levels of cytokines in combination with decreased cortisol sensitivity (cortisol is both a stress hormone and a buffer against inflammation). As explained by Dr. Brogan:
“Once triggered in the body, these inflammatory agents transfer information to the nervous system, typically through stimulation of major nerves such as the vagus, which connects9 the gut and brain. Specialized cells called microglia in the brain represent the brain’s immune hubs and are activated in inflammatory states. In activated microglia, an enzyme called IDO (indoleamine 2 3-dioxygenase) has been shown10 to direct tryptophan away from the production of serotonin and melatonin and towards the production of an NMDA agonist called quinolinic acid that may be responsible for symptoms of anxiety and agitation. These are just some of the changes that may conspire to let your brain in on what your body may know is wrong.”
Read more ⇒ The Mind Unleashed
Learn more ⇒http://themindunleashed.org/2015/01/new-research-reveals-real-causes-depression.html