Depression could be treated using anti-inflammatory drugs,scientists now believe, after determining that it is a physical illness caused by a faulty immune system.
Around one in 13 people in Britain suffers from anxiety or depression and last year the NHS issued 64.7 million prescriptions for antidepressants, double the amount given out a decade ago.
A raft of recent papers, and unexpected results from clinical trials, have shown that treating inflammation seems to alleviate depression.
More and more research is pointing towards the impact that our immune system has on our likelihood to develop depression. And understanding this could have huge impacts on how we treat it. We speak to Professor Carmine Pariante, who’s been investigating this fascinating area of research for the last 20 years to find out more.
When the journalist Bryony Gordon wrote about her struggle with depression she was taken aback by her readers’ reaction. In her memoir Mad Girl she recalls: ‘Of all the subjects I had written about in my career, not one of them had elicited a response like this… I received hundreds and hundreds of messages from people sharing their own stories of mental illness. Strangers sent me cards. Friends I had always seen as upbeat and jolly, who had probably always seen me as upbeat and jolly, pulled me to on
A research team, led by Cardiff University, has made a significant step towards the development of a simple blood test to predict the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.Funded by the Alzheimer’s Society, the group of researchers from Cardiff University, King’s College London and the University of Oxford studied blood from 292 individuals with the earliest signs of memory impairment and found a set of biomarkers (indicators of disease) that predicted whether or not a given individual would develop Alzheimer’s disease.
There is growing evidence that inflammation – already known to be a cause of many whole-body diseases – is also involved in diseases of the brain, including psychiatric conditions like depression.Depression is a common and crippling disease affecting over 350m people worldwide. Around 20% of the UK population will suffer from depression at some point in their lives, with symptoms varying from feelings of sadness and hopelessness through to suicidal thoughts. The disease may be a response to bereavement or other life events or emerge without any obvious cause. All too often it persists, sometimes for life.
BBC health reporter James Gallagher explores the increasing body of evidence that a dysfunctional immune system is responsible for the depression or psychotic illness experienced by hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of people in the UK. James talks to the psychiatrists investigating this new understanding of mental illness and to people who may benefit from treatments aimed at the immune systems rather than their brain cells.
Source: BBC Radio 4 – The Inflamed Mind