Inflammation Associated with Depression


Depression is increasingly recognized by researchers as a condition rooted in chronic inflammation. Inflammation occurs throughout the body due to unmanaged stress, activation of fight-or-flight thoughts and feelings, as well as inflammatory causing foods and other substances. Some cytokines and other inflammatory messengers such as CRP, IL-1, IL-6 and TNF-alpha are predictive of and correlate to depression. Mercola writes, "For example, in melancholic depression, bipolar disorder and postpartum depression, white blood cells called monocytes express pro-inflammatory genes that provoke secretion of cytokines." Cortisol sensitivity then goes down, but cortisol is a stress hormone that guards against inflammation. "Together," Mercola notes, "these inflammatory agents transfer information to your nervous system, typically by stimulating your vagus nerve, which connects your gut and brain." That is important because the vagus nerve plays a central role in the health of digestive organs and the heart, including production of serotonin.

Researchers think at least one-third of depressed patients have high levels of inflammation. Anti-inflammatory drugs have been shown to favorably alter neurochemical pathways involved in depression; however, there are natural anti-inflammatory agents, including curcumin (from turmeric) and boswellia. Nutritional ketosis also decreases inflammation. Animal-based omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, fish oil) and vitamin D3 are also important anti-inflammatory nutrients. Moreover, yoga and deep breathing relax the sympathetic nervous system and in turn, calm the vagus nerve.

Adapted from "Depression Linked to Inflammation Gains Strength," by Joseph Mercola, DO, at A general list of anti-inflammatory agents available at