Reviewed by Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
There has been a lot of research conducted on the link between inflammation and depression, and as it turns out, there is a link. However, the connection between these two may not be what you think. Keep reading for more details on the link between these two and what this means to treat both of these conditions.
What Is Depression?
Depression is a mental condition that causes people to experience it to have a change in their mood. They generally have feelings of sadness or feeling down. These feelings are often severe enough to cause changes in their routine. It can cause deviations in sleeping, eating, and other aspects. Depression can happen at any age and generally affects adults. Some people may experience it for many years.
Here is a look at some of the most common symptoms of depression. Everyone that experiences depression does not have all of these symptoms, and some symptoms may be more severe than others.
- Unexplained pains in the body, including muscle aches and headaches
- Unable to concentrate
- Sleeping too much
- Not sleeping enough
- Changes in eating
- Having no energy
- Finding little to no joy in things that they used to like
- Feeling useless
- Slowed speech
If you or someone you know exhibits these symptoms, take this depression test to determine where you can turn for the support you need.
Treatments For Depression
There are a number of different ways that depression is treated. One is therapy, namely psychotherapy. Psychotherapy allows someone to talk to a therapist about how they are feeling, and in turn, a therapist can help someone learn different ways of thinking about themselves and others. They can also help a person learn more about their moods and better handle anxiety and stress.
Depression is also treated with certain medicines. These prescriptions are designed to help lessen certain symptoms you may be experiencing. It is up to your doctor to determine which medicines should be a part of your treatment plan, so be sure, to be honest with them about your symptoms and how you feel. It can take a long time to get the correct prescriptions that will alleviate symptoms, so note any side effects you experience and address them with your therapist or doctor right away if they bother you.
You should be aware that medicines can also take a long time to work, so you may not see results right away when seeking treatment for your depression. However, it is important to continue to take advantage of therapy, as this is a positive thing for your mental health.
What Is Inflammation?
Inflammation is the body’s response when it senses that something is trying to damage it. Inflammation is a response that takes place within your immune system, where it sends what is needed to the spot it senses is in danger in your body, whether it be chemicals or something else. This may lead to swelling or pain in a particular area, depending on the inflammation's extent.
Inflammation may be caused by sickness or an immune system that isn’t functioning properly. Moreover, if you are exposed to pollutants or allergens and don’t go away, you may have inflammation as you are always exposed to them.
Here is a look at the symptoms of inflammation.
- Pain in different areas of the body
- Redness or swelling
- Feeling tired
There is not always an obvious cause for inflammation, even inflammation that is present long-term. However, there are a number of ways that doctors typically treat them. One way is through the use of prescriptions. A few types of medicines may be prescribed for people who experience inflammation, depending on the extent of their symptoms.
A doctor may also recommend supplements to add to your diet, which is designed to diminish inflammation. Certain foods are thought to lessen this body's reaction, including things like omega-3s, which are found in fish and ginger.
Links Between Depression And Inflammation
Now that you know about depression and inflammation, you are likely wondering what their connection is. Research has shown that when someone has inflammation, they may also experience depression. Additionally, depression may be easier to treat when inflammation is present.
What Does This Mean?
When someone has inflammation, they may also have depression. This may be because inflammation can cause pain in the body. If this is the case for someone, and they see no end in sight, they could have depression. At the same time, one of the treatments for inflammation may also help the symptoms of depression.
This is significant since inflammation is caused by a response from the immune system. This could mean that when you can keep your immune system operating as it is supposed to, it may reduce inflammation and depression in certain instances. A study on this topic was published in Frontiers in Immunology. It also explains how depression may have a connection to the immune system, which needs to be investigated to be better understood.
Another point related to this is that inflammation may also be present in other mental health conditions. There is also a discussion of how inflammation is thought to affect behavior. This may be another way that inflammation and depression are related.
Even though the relationship between depression and inflammation is not entirely understood yet, you can still do some things at home, which may help you be proactive about your health, whether experiencing depression, inflammation, or both. Try to incorporate some of these things into your routine.
- Get Checked Out. If it has been a long time since you have had a physical or check-up, it may be time to do just that. Your doctor can rule out illnesses and conditions. If you are experiencing a physical ailment, you will want to get treated for that first before you do anything else. This may be the reason you have inflammation. There are specific conditions that are thought to cause inflammation, such as obesity and asthma, so if you experience these things, you will need to make changes to change your health for the better, or make sure you are getting the proper treatment for an ailment.
2. Getting Your Body Moving is something that you should take the time to do. This is good for changing your mood and it can also be helpful for your immune system, since you aren’t just sitting around doing nothing. When you are sweating, you may be getting toxins out of your body, which are contributing to inflammation. Besides that, it is good for your health in general.
3. Eat Right. As mentioned above, there are foods that are thought to fight inflammation. You can look into articles that discuss these foods, so you are able to add them into your daily diet. You can also read medically reviewed articles online to see what works for other people.
4. Sleep At Night. Sleeping is beneficial for all the systems in your body. You need to be able to get rest at night, so you can make responsible decisions, regulate your moods, and allow your brain to rest. Whenever you sleep the proper amount, you may also be able to keep your immune system working effectively.
5. Stay Social. Regardless of how you are feeling, you should put in the effort to stay close to the people most important to you. Whether you have depression, inflammation, or both, you will still need a support system from time to time. Be sure to spend time with others, so you don’t isolate yourself. You need to have people to lean on when its necessary, so be sure to take care of these relationships, even when you don’t feel like it.
6. Take Advantage Of Treatment. You should also take advantage of treatment. When you feel like you need help for your inflammation or depression, it is important to reach out and accept it. This is your best bet when it comes to seeing a change in some of your symptoms. A therapist will also be able to teach you coping strategies to help you with either of these conditions. Stick with your treatment and make sure to take your prescriptions as directed.
The prognosis for depression and inflammation will be different for everyone. However, when you reach out for help as soon as you can, you may see a lessening of your symptoms. Now that scientists and researchers know that there is a connection between these two conditions, they have a better shot of successfully treating them. This is good news for people that are experiencing symptoms. Be sure to stick with the treatment plan that is recommended for you and try to change your daily habits, for best results.