Does Inflammation Cause Depression?

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New research has found that clinical depression is linked to a 30 percent increase of inflammation in the brain.

The new study, undertaken by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health?s (CAMH) Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute in Canada, used PET scans to investigate the link between depression and inflammation.

What did the study involve?

The research team used PET scans to look at the brains of 20 people with depression. A control group of 20 people was also assessed.

The scans found that the people with depression had profound levels of inflammation on their brains. Interestingly, those with more serious clinical depression experienced more serious inflammation.

What is inflammation?

Let's go back a step and look at inflammation in more detail. When your body is under attack from an illness or infection, the immune system jumps into action.

This is often useful, healing the body as quickly as possible. But sometimes inflammation isn't so beneficial, causing damage and chronic inflammation, which can lead to serious diseases such as cancer.

Why is inflammation linked to depression?

Recent research has found that inflammation can cause depression symptoms. These include sleep problems, poor moods and affected appetite. The CAMH study went further to see if inflammation influences depression directly.

The research team is quick to point out that more investigation is needed to discover if depression causes inflammation or the other way around. However, the CAMH study was able to confirm that inflammation occurs in the brains of people with depression.

Senior author Dr Jeffrey Meyer was quoted in Medical News Today as saying, This discovery has important implications for developing new treatments for a significant group of people who suffer from depression. It provides a potential new target to either reverse the brain inflammation or shift to a more positive repair role, with the idea that it would alleviate symptoms.

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