Brain Inflammation: A Hidden Cause of Depression?

by BodyLogicMD

Over six million adults in the US and around 360 million worldwide suffer from depression. But for many, commonly prescribed antidepressant medications provide no relief for their symptoms—and many come with unwanted side effects. Now, recent research on the causes of depression reveals the reason antidepressants are so often ineffective—and why fighting inflammation in the body and brain may be a better way to treat this very common mental health condition.

Depression Affects the Whole Body

Anyone can experience the well-known symptoms of depression: lack of energy, loss of interest in activities, feelings of sadness, trouble concentrating, sleep problems, and more. For some, depression strikes as isolated episodes; for others, it’s a chronic issue that affects all aspects of life on a daily basis. Still, even though depression is the most common mental illness in the world, its causes have not always been clear—and that makes treatment difficult.

People who seek treatment for depression are often prescribed antidepressant drugs designed to affect the activity of chemicals in the brain. The most common of these is a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs—potent medications that attempt to alleviate depression by controlling the brain’s production of serotonin, an important “feel good” chemical. But many people aren’t helped by SSRIs or other medications. A Canadian study published in 2015 may have found the reason: depression appears to be associated not with low serotonin levels, but with dramatic increases in inflammation in the brain.

The Inflammation Connection

Inflammation is the body’s normal response to toxins, injuries, and stress. When these events happen, the body’s cortisol levels surge, and white blood cells begin to produce cytokines to combat the problem. After the issue is resolved, the system should return to balance—but it may not. Inflammation can remain high, causing damage to nerves and tissues and contributing to chronic conditions such as heart disease, autoimmune disorders, cancer, and depression, which was associated with a 30 percent increase in brain inflammation in the Canadian study.

Treat Inflammation, Treat Depression

Exercise, a healthy diet, and active efforts to reduce stress can all play a role in reducing inflammation—and they may hold more promise for treating depression than currently available antidepressants.

Vitamins and supplements can reduce inflammation, too. RG3, a compound found in the Panax ginseng plant, has been found to decrease inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain. As part of the BodyLogicMD Brain Boost program, RG3 can protect the brain from inflammation and enhance memory and mental focus. Contact a physician within the BodyLogicMD network today to find real relief from depression and other disorders.

 

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