Brain Inflammation Causing Depressive Feelings

The action of inflammation helps the body protect itself when reacting to disease or illness. Few may associate it with bodily injury such as an ankle sprain.  But a recent study takes a look at how the brain incurs inflammation and evidence suggesting this action could be connected to severe forms of depression.  While inflammation is the body’s natural ability to begin the healing process in certain situations, too much could prove to be harmful.

The latest study reviewed elements of clinical depression and how inflammation affects related symptoms versus a type of physical illness.  Researchers in Toronto, Canada collected data from 40 people using a medical scan test called positron emission tomography (PET).  Half of the participants experience depression, while the other half are defined as healthy control patients.  The test allowed researchers to examine brain cell activity related to how the brain reacts to inflammation.  There are immune cells called microglia believed to play an important role during development of this activity.

The PET scan detected an increase in inflammation activity in the brains of depressed participants.  The activity was considered severe in individuals with severe depression. Those with clinical depression saw a 30 % increase in inflammation.  There have been studies conducted to learn more about inflammation and if it contributes to major depression or is it a consequence.  An example includes a study conducted in 2012 at Duke University Medical Center. It reviewed a number of depressive episodes experienced by study participants.  It was documented their blood produces a special protein, called C-reactive, when inflammation levels rose. Researchers from Duke believe inflammation arises from depression symptoms.

Since conducting such a testing, a question raises another concern: Should treatment for depression include inflammation? Medical experts believe findings from tests conducted could open new opportunities to improve or develop new treatment options for depression patients.  The studies have provided another perspective on new areas to target.  Treatment options could work to repair or reverse brain inflammation to ease symptoms.

Four percent of the general population deals with severe depression.  A majority of these patients are treated with anti-depressants but don’t respond to them.  Medical experts think we need to take a closer look at depression symptoms and their influence from anti-inflammatory medicines. Biological changes are just the beginning in understanding effects of depression.  Because the illness is complex in nature, the evidence from brain inflammation is a step in the right direction towards better understanding and improved treatment options.