Inflammation and depression suffer from the old chicken or the egg dilemma…which came first? Scientists are unsure whether the inflammation triggers depression or prolongs depression despite treatment and drug therapy.
Before we delve into the connection between these two dangerous conditions, let’s talk about the most common signs of depression.
Common and Often Ignored Signs of Depression
- Chronic pain that is from an unknown cause that may include frequent headaches, stomach problems, and soreness in your muscles.
- The inability to find joy in activities or people you once enjoyed.
- Feeling hopeless and as if there is no chance for things to improve.
- Unintentional weight loss or gain, if it is a rapid change then there is a cause for concern.
- Constant boredom, this one can sneak up on you and little activities that once brought joy can lose their appeal.
- Hypersomnia (too much sleep) or insomnia (not enough sleep).
- Irrational irritability, short-temper, easily becoming agitated, frustrated, or feelings of restlessness.
- Engaging in high-risk behavior such as gambling, drug or alcohol abuse, dangerous activities, or unprotected sex.
- Lack of energy, ability to focus, or motivation no matter how much sleep you receive.
- Persistent feelings of guilt, self-criticism, self-loathing, or worthlessness.
- Having a difficult time making decisions, whether it’s choosing chicken or fish for dinner or making a tougher decision.
- Constant feelings of overwhelm.
Why Inflammation a Sign of Depression Is Often Overlooked
Inflammation is considered a root cause for more illnesses and diseases than were even imagined just ten short years ago.
Having too much of this dangerous immune response gone wild is devastating. Inflammation wreaks havoc on every organ and tissue in your body, resulting in long-term damage.
Conditions in which inflammation plays a scientifically proven role…
- Heart disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases
- Asthma, chronic sinusitis, and allergies
- Digestive disorders such as Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, and inflammatory bowel disease
- Diabetes – type 1 and type 2
- Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and dementia
- Chronic pain
- Metabolic disorders and thyroid disease
Researchers are investigating the possibility that depression points to another issue, one that has inflammation at the core as so many other diseases do.
Depression, stress, and anxiety are named as “side effects” for many conditions directly related to chronic inflammation.
One in five people with heart disease suffer from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and if you are diagnosed with diabetes, your risk of developing depression doubles. As many as 25% of cancer patients experience the debilitating effects of depression.
But the sad difference in cancer patients is that many feel loved and cherished, but if you suffer from depression you may feel as if there is something internally damaged within you.
In the United States, 14.8 million people have been clinically diagnosed with depressive disorders. That number doesn’t take into account the massive numbers of people who never talk to their doctor about their feelings or symptoms because of the stigma surrounding mental or emotional conditions.
Antidepressant drugs are the most profitable pharmaceutical drugs on the market and more than 30 million people in the U.S. alone currently take a prescription for a mood altering substance.
If you do discuss feelings of apathy or unrelenting sadness – which are clear signs of depression – generally you will be prescribed one of these “feel better” pills, patted on the head, and sent on your way.
Is that the way to solve the problem? No. It isn’t.
These drugs are necessary for many severe cases of depression to ease the symptoms but they are a temporary solution that doesn’t address the root causes of the disease. In addition there are many alternative therapies such as psychotherapy for depression that can help.
The unfortunate news is that more than one-third of patients diagnosed with depression do not respond to medication. That could explain the 30% spike in suicide between 1999 and 2010 in Americans ages 35 to 64 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Whether it is due to psychological trauma, an abundance of stress or a physiological issue within your body…depression is real. It is destroying the lives of too many – often permanently.
“I don’t even talk about it as a psychiatric condition anymore. It does involve psychology, but [depression] it also involves equal parts of biology and physical health,” explained George Slavich, a clinical psychologist with UCLA.
One of the main issues is that scientists still don’t fully understand how the brain works or how to alter the misfires or disconnects that may occur in such a complex organ.
Lower the Flames of Inflammation and Start to Change Your Life
As research continues, scientists will determine whether inflammation is the cause of depression or merely prolongs it.
If we begin viewing depression as a physical disease instead of portraying it as a mental weakness, the scientific solutions to a very real epidemic may become known a bit faster. Maybe fast enough to save people who can’t handle the pain of their depression anymore and take their lives.
In the meantime, there is no doubt from any standpoint that excessive inflammation is dangerous to your overall health.
Sources of Inflammation
- Chronic stress
- Infection or traumatic injury
- A diet high in unhealthy fats, processed foods, and refined sugars or flour
- Excess body weight, especially fat that accumulates in the abdominal area
- Over consumption of alcohol
Leading an anti-inflammatory lifestyle means reducing your stress and unhealthy habits before inflammation gets out of control. Don’t wait to act until you develop heart disease or begin experiencing signs of depression.
Get off the inflammation roller coaster right now.
There are still many unanswered questions and more research needs to be done to verify the link – and possible treatments – between inflammation and signs of depression. There is one thing experts now know for certain: when it comes to inflammation, everything burns.