A new study performed by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, CAMH, links depression to brain inflammation. The results of the study revealed that people who were experiencing clinical depression were also experiencing brain inflammation by 30%. The study was published in the JAMA Psychiatry and could help find new treatments for depression.
Dr. Jeffrey Meyer, senior author of the study and researcher at the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute, states that these findings provide one of the most compelling pieces of evidence to date that the human brain gets inflamed during a depressive episode. He goes on to say that there have been previous studies to inspect markers in the blood to reveal inflammation, but this is the first and only definite evidence.
The research team managed to measure the activation of microglia, which are immune cells in the brain and are vital to the brain’s inflammatory response. To do this, they did brain scans on 20 people with clinical depression who were other than depression, did not have any other illnesses. They also did brain scans on 20 healthy people that represented the control group. The brain scans were done using the positron emission tomography (PET) technique.
The results of the brain scans showed that the patients suffering from depression had significant elevation of brain inflammation. It was also proved that there is a correlation between the severity of the depression and the level of inflammation, as the people with the most severe depression had the highest elevation of brain inflammation.
The brain inflames itself in some cases, as a way of protecting itself, but there is a fine line between inflammation of the brain that is helpful and inflammation that is damaging.
This new study that links depression to brain inflammation could help scientists advance in the depression treatment field and come up with new and more effective drugs.
More than half of the people suffering from major depression do not respond to treatments with antidepressants. The current treatments available on the market today for treating depression do not target inflammation. Inflammation is known to cause loss of appetite, low mood and inability to sleep.
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