Compelling new research has discovered a previously unknown cause of depression, opening way for new potential new treatment pathways. The significance of this enormous as over half of all people who have major depression are not able to find relief from antidepressants.
There is no single known cause of depression but we do know that it takes more than one biological change to trigger an episode.
Inflammation in the brain seems to be one of these changes, with new research finding a compelling link between brain inflammation and major depression.
Brain scans were compared between people with clinical depression and those without. The scans revealed that brain inflammation in people with depression was 30% more than those without. The inflammation was highest in those people who were experiencing the most severe depression.
Inflammation in the brain serves a similar protective function as it does in the rest of the body, but too much can be damaging.
Evidence is increasingly pointing to the role of inflammation in generating the symptoms of major depression such as low mood and appetite and sleep disturbances. The role of brain inflammation on clinical depression seems to be independent of any other physical illness.
The findings have significant implications for the development of new treatments. Lead researcher Dr Jeffrey Meyer explains, ‘It provides a potential new target to either reverse the brain inflammation or shift to a more positive repair role, with the idea that it would alleviate symptoms.’
Our knowledge of depression and its possible causes is expanding all the time, opening new paths and possibilities for effective treatments.
Like so many illnesses, depression draws a circle around one person and draws those who are close to that person in. See here for what to do when someone you care about has depression.