Inflammation Can Worsen Mental Health
Chronic inflammation, which is linked to physical issues like diabetes and cancer, can also "fan the flames" of depression, a recent study reports.
Researchers from Rice University and Ohio State University examined how stress affects the immune system - which consequently leads to physical and mental disease.
"Previous research shows that individuals who have socio-economic issues or had problems in their early lives are already at higher risk for mental issues because of these stresses in their lives," said Christopher Fagundes, co-author of the study. "As a result, they often experience a higher occurrence of chronic inflammation, which we have linked to depression."
Diet, health, and stress
In people with diabetes, the body often develops insulin resistance in response to dietary or lifestyle habits that promote inflammation.
While it's normal for the body to produce an inflammatory response when injured, for example, chronic inflammation can greatly compromise the immune system.
Stress, poor diet, and unhealthy behaviors like smoking can all enhance inflammation, said Fagundes.
The study also found that depression caused by chronic inflammation is usually treatment-resistant when addressed with traditional methods. However, lifestyle activities such as meditation, yoga or exercise can help alleviate the problem.
"We still have a lot to learn about how inflammation impacts depression, but we are making progress," Fagundes said. "We hope one day this work will lead to new treatments that are part of standard psychiatric care."
Source: Rice University
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