Chronic inflammation, also known as low-grade or systemic inflammation, is an unhealthy inflammatory response that remains activated for months, or years. Research is proving that chronic inflammation is linked to virtually every disease, from cancer to diabetes to autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. But chronic inflammation doesn’t just affect us physically; research is showing that it fosters mental illnesses such as depression as well. Researchers from Rice University and Ohio State University reviewed 200 existing studies on depression and inflammation and found a distinct link between the two.
The report, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, revealed that patients diagnosed with clinical depression exhibited increased concentrations of two inflammatory markers, CRP and IL-6, by as much as 50%!
Looking Out for Systemic Inflammation
According to the researchers of this latest study, chronic inflammation is activated by stress, so those with a lot of stress, those from lower socio-economic status, or those who were abused or neglected as children, may be at the highest risk. Christopher Fagundes, an assistant professor of psychology and co-author of the paper, explains: “Previous research shows that individuals who have socio-economic issues or had problems in their early lives are already at higher risk for mental issues because of these stresses in their lives. As a result, they often experience a higher occurrence of chronic inflammation, which we have linked to depression.”
Other contributing factors to chronic inflammation include high-fat diets, a high BMI, and lack of exercise.
If you think you may be suffering from depression triggered by chronic inflammation, experts suggest enhancing your well-being with yoga, meditation, and exercise, as traditional therapies have proven ineffective for treating chronic-inflammation-related depression.