Inflammation can be a core feature of depression, study finds

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In a recent study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, researchers found that inflammation could be a core feature of depression.

They found people with depression have higher levels of inflammation in their bodies than those without depression, regardless of socioeconomic background, ill-health or unhealthy behaviors.

C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker for inflammation in the body, was found in higher levels in depressed people compared to non-depressed people.

The finding suggests that there may be a direct biological link between inflammation and depressive disorders.

The study is from King’s College London. One author is Maria Pitharouli.

In the study, the team used the largest ever community-based sample with information on mental health, inflammation, genome-wide association study (GWAS) data linking genes to certain diseases, environment, lifestyle and physical health with approximately 86 thousand participants.

Of the 86,000 participants included in the study just under a third (31%) were classified as having a major depressive disorder.

This percentage is similar to estimates found by other studies on the global prevalence of depression occurring during a person’s lifetime.

The team showed that depressed participants had raised C-reactive protein (CRP) levels in their blood compared to non-depressed participants, and were more likely to have low-grade inflammation, defined as CRP levels in the blood of over 3 mg per liter.

Inflammation is a biological response that is predominantly directed to fight infection but also has an important role in regulating behavior. CRP is one marker for inflammation.

The team found that the greater the genetic risk for depression, the greater the level of inflammation.

The study provides the most conclusive evidence to date that people with depression have proteins in their blood indicating activation of the inflammatory system.

The team says that finding is important to help us understand depression better—and one further piece in the jigsaw puzzle towards improving care for people with depression.

If you care about depression, please read studies about long-term use of depression drug may cause addiction and findings of a new ‘warning sign’ of early depression.

For more information about depression and your health, please see recent studies about single dose of this psychedelic drug may reduce depression, anxiety for years and results showing that long-term use of depression drug may increase risk of type 2 diabetes.

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