Is there a correlation between chronic inflammation and feeling depressed? Is inflammation good or bad? Can inflammation be reversed?
In my article which was published in MDedge I discussed the connection between inflammation, depression and myriad other chronic diseases.
Inflammation is a lifesaving reaction of your body’s immune system when it tries to fight off infection, heal injury or protect you from foreign invaders. Inflammation can be acute and chronic. Acute inflammation typically lasts only a few days. This response usually promotes healing, but if left uncontrolled may become harmful.
When your body’s immune system is trying to fight off life’s daily exposure to unhealthy food, environmental toxins, stressors, overgrowth of bad bacteria, parasites, low-grade infections, it puts your immune system in overdrive producing chronic low-grade inflammation. It becomes a chronic fire inside of your body which can destroy your body’s cells, including your mitochondria. When the mitochondria are not functioning properly, energy production and your metabolism decrease. Chronic inflammation interferes with the mitochondria’s ability to burn fat and makes fat loss very difficult.
Chronic inflammation was labeled a “Silent Killer” because it was linked to depression, anxiety, obesity, diabetes, dementia, autoimmune conditions, cancer and virtually all chronic degenerative diseases.
Some other symptoms and signs of inflammation that is chronic include:
– Joint pain
– Brain fog
– Poor memory
– Flat mood
– Slowed thinking
Chronic inflammation and Depression.
Chronic inflammation interferes with the production of neurotransmitters including those that regulate how you feel. For example, serotonin is an important neurotransmitter for feeling happy and optimistic. Ninety-five percent of your body’s serotonin is produced in the gut. It’s produced from 5-HTP, which is derived from tryptophan. However, in the presence of chronic inflammation in your body, tryptophan is converted into other markers (kynurenate and quinolate) both of which cause fatigue and are toxic to the brain. The subsequent depletion of serotonin produces symptoms of depression.
Below is an image of the organic acids test of a patient who presented with depression, peripheral and brain fatigue. As you can see the level of Kynurenate is high. The higher the level of kynurenate the lower the level of serotonin and the worse you might feel.
It seems like low serotonin is causing depressive symptoms but by digging deeper we can find the underlying root cause(s) which is often the manifestation of downstream effects of many neurotransmitters and hormones. When the body is inflamed, it releases inflammatory messengers called cytokines. These inflammatory agents transfer information to the nervous system, typically through stimulation of the vagus nerve, which connects the gut and the brain.
Brain cells called microglia are activated in response to these inflammatory messengers. Once activated, a brain chemical called quinolinic acid is produced. It is believed to be responsible for anxiety and agitation.
Depression is a nonspecific fever. When your body is chronically inflamed it’s on fire and it’s up to us to figure out why.
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