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TOPIC: Depression Is An Allerergy to Inflammation

Depression Is An Allerergy to Inflammation 23 May 2016 13:00 #103464

www.feelguide.com/2015/01/06/new-researc...tion-to-inflammation

New research is revealing that many cases of depression are caused by an allergic reaction to inflammation. Tim de Chant of NOVA writes: “Inflammation is our immune system’s natural response to injuries, infections, or foreign compounds. When triggered, the body pumps various cells and proteins to the site through the blood stream, including cytokines, a class of proteins that facilitate intercellular communication. It also happens that people suffering from depression are loaded with cytokines.” Inflammation is caused by obesity, high sugar diets, high quantities of trans fats, unhealthy diets in general, and other causes.

By treating the inflammatory symptoms of depression — rather than the neurological ones — researchers and doctors are opening up an exciting new dimension in the fight against what has become a global epidemic. Caroline Williams of The Guardian writes: “The good news is that the few clinical trials done so far have found that adding anti-inflammatory medicines to antidepressants not only improves symptoms, it also increases the proportion of people who respond to treatment, although more trials will be needed to confirm this. There is also some evidence that omega 3 and curcumin, an extract of the spice turmeric, might have similar effects. Both are available over the counter and might be worth a try, although as an add-on to any prescribed treatment – there’s definitely not enough evidence to use them as a replacement.”

Eleanor Morgan of VICE adds: “Cytokines skyrocket during depressive episodes and, in those with bipolar disorder, halt in remission. The fact that ‘normal,’ healthy people can become temporarily anxious or depressed after receiving an inflammatory vaccine — like typhoid — lends further credence to the theory. There are even those who think we should re-brand depression altogether as an infectious disease … Carmine Pariante, a Kings College psychiatrist who is quoted in The Guardian report, says that we’re between five and ten years away from a blood test that can measure levels of inflammation in depressed people. If both Pariante’s estimate and the inflammation-depression theory are correct, we could potentially be just five years from an adequate ‘cure’ for depression.”
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Depression Is An Allerergy to Inflammation 23 May 2016 13:27 #103465

What serendipity: I was watching this today. It's long, and jumps to overbroad conclusions in places, but there are some real gems worth thinking about, like the bit about how cells decide what is 'self'/acceptable and what is 'not-self'/ rejected (and the mechanism of rejection is the inflammatory response-- to bring up the connection to your article, Shargrol). That bit is found at 1:07:14 and following.

I find the resonances and correlations worth pondering.

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Depression Is An Allerergy to Inflammation 24 May 2016 17:42 #103472

I've recently read through parts of Dr. Kelly Brogan's book, A Mind of Your Own, which explores these issues, including the depression/inflammation link. Coming, as it did, after a year or so exploring viruses, vaccinations, neuropathology, the immune response, the role of the microbiome in gut-- and neurological!-- issues; and after my own explorations into "what, exactly, IS asthma/ COPD; how does it work?" It's been a kind of self-taught "biology from the inside out" course.

My current intuition and hypothesis is that the inflammatory response is the organism's extreme attempt to maintain integrity-- against assaults "from the outside," microbes, toxins, trauma. On a spectrum of activity, or heat, or speed, it's the "red" end of the scale. Depression is on the other, "blue" end of the scale-- hypoactive, not hyperactive; cold, not hot; sluggish, not speedy. Health and integrity is at the sweet region of balance in the middle. Changes in conditions tend to push us toward red, and lest that reactivity spiral out of control, there is a countervailing tendency back toward blue. Extremes in either direction, if prolonged, can be fatal.

There are provocative correlations that can be drawn to a spectrum of spiritual practice. Ngak'chang Rinpoche observed that depressives were not served by practice designed to encourage spaciness, because the neurosis connected to the "Space Element" is depression. Nothing matters, nothing is real, who cares. I wish he had, or would, elaborate on that more. I think it is a neglected topic; and that there is a hazard in encouraging all manner of people to "abandon the self", without discriminating, wise, personal guidance.
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Depression Is An Allerergy to Inflammation 24 May 2016 19:32 #103473

Can we ask him?
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Depression Is An Allerergy to Inflammation 25 May 2016 09:12 #103474

One thing that strikes me...Early depression is much closer to "red", there is elevated cortisol and difficulties sleeping late, overactive mind, sometimes mania, etc. I would say it is the later stages of depression, when it is closer to chronic fatigue, that are more "blue"-like.
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Depression Is An Allerergy to Inflammation 25 May 2016 12:02 #103476

Interesting!
I have some kind of funky autoimmune thing that comes up from time to time and manifests in inflammation of my iris in my right eye. For a few days before a flare up, I will feel extremely tired, irritable, and sluggish-- i.e., pretty much the physical components of being 'depressed'. I've found if I just go with that and sleep, relax, and rest I can stave off a flare up (which is great, because topical steroids aren't particularly healthy either!!).
I find the complex interweaving of mood, meaning, and physiology to be truly fascinating.
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Depression Is An Allerergy to Inflammation 25 May 2016 19:11 #103477

shargrol wrote:
One thing that strikes me...Early depression is much closer to "red", there is elevated cortisol and difficulties sleeping late, overactive mind, sometimes mania, etc. I would say it is the later stages of depression, when it is closer to chronic fatigue, that are more "blue"-like.

Agreed, and depression is also often co-present with anxiety which is 'red.' I think any new treatment can be useful but I'm concerned about models which assume that depression is solely physical (similar to the 'chemical imbalance' model). IMHO, and as someone who's experienced depression, what we mean when we say 'depression' is a convenient shorthand for a very wide range of related but different things. Andrew Solomon's book 'The Noonday Demon' is my personal fave on depression.
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Depression Is An Allerergy to Inflammation 25 May 2016 21:02 #103478

It is way past time to stop defining any phenomenon as "merely physical "-- or "merely mental," either. Experience is registered/responded to by THE ENTIRE ORGANISM-- body, mind, chemistry, gut populations, even DNA. The long habit of oversimplified explanations really doesn't serve us well.
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