Scientists believe depression can be alleviated by treating inflammation

The latest discovery about the possible link between depression and inflammation has once again taken a chomp out of my confidence in the medical profession.

In my personal life, I have known a number of people who suffer from depression and have tried the whole gamut of anti-depressants without ever experiencing any noteworthy relief.

We have been told that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain and antidepressants work by balancing chemicals like serotonin called neurotransmitters that affect mood and emotions. But as we all know, it’s notoriously difficult to find antidepressants that work.

No wonder! Depression is not a mental illness; it’s a physical illness. And according to some recent research papers it can be alleviated by treating inflammation.

inflammation and depression, is depression real

I feel a raw madness rising up in me. Think of the hours spent unraveling non-existent psychological ‘problems’; the money wasted on counseling; not to speak of the harmful effects of the antidepressant drugs themselves.

After determining that depression is a physical illness caused by a faulty immune system, scientists now believe depression can be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs.


It seems depression sets in when the immune system doesn’t switch off after a trauma or illness. The over-active immune system causes inflammation throughout the body and it’s this widespread inflammation that may be at the bottom of feelings of unhappiness, hopelessness, and fatigue.

If this is in fact true, depression could be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs.

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A growing body of research, including scientific papers and results from clinical trials, have shown a connection between treating inflammation and alleviating depression. It seems treating inflammation alleviates depression and when doctors use inflammatory drugs to boost the immune system, some patients become depressed.

inflammation and depression, is depression real

University of Cambridge Head of the Department of Psychiatry Professor Ed Bullmore said:

“It’s pretty clear that inflammation can cause depression. In relation to mood, beyond reasonable doubt, there is a very robust association between inflammation and depressive symptoms. We give people a vaccination and they will become depressed. Vaccine clinics could always predict it, but they could never explain it.”

A brighter future?

Millions of people across the world take some form of antidepressant, yet antidepressants are often ineffective. Hopefully these research results will lead to more effective treatments for feelings of sadness that might have nothing to do with a mental condition at all.

Hopefully the whole “depression” issue will be reframed as a condition that has an underlying physical cause, setting millions of people free from an unnecessarily worrying about some mental condition and the possible psychological causes for it.

And no one will have to try and hide their condition from employers and family members in order to avoid the stigma around mental illness.

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Written by Justin Brown

I'm the CEO and co-founder of Ideapod, a platform for people to connect around ideas. I'm passionate about people thinking for themselves, especially in an age of information overload.

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