Depression as an Inflammatory Disease

Looking at depression as an inflammatory disease, I have been struck by the parallels between the physical mechanisms that may trigger inflammation (and thus depression, according to Berk et al – see library) and fibromyalgia.  This really isn’t surprising since such a high percentage of people with fibro also have problems with depression.  What I’m wondering, however, is if there are enough parallels between the two that they are intrinsically related.  Fix one, help the other; prevent one, prevent the other.

The triggers for depression that the authors present are:

  • Psychosocial stressors (childhood trauma)
  • Poor diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Altered gut permeability (leaky gut – has to do with bacteria and immune cells)
  • Atopy (relating to allergies)
  • Poor dental health/peridontitis
  • Poor sleep
  • Vitamin D deficiency

Furthermore, many of the physical reactions to these stressors are also associated with fibromyalgia, cytokines in particular, which are proteins that facilitate communication between cells (I think) and are associated with inflammation.

No matter what, the list above is a virtual mirror to underlying influences on fibromyalgia.  Even smoking, I have found is a trigger for fibro flares, which makes considering the exposure to chemicals.  The bacteria in the gut was one of the first things doctors addressed with me.  The only thing I can’t relate to – thank goodness – is poor dental hygiene.  But I do hate dentists.

The Berk et al article doesn’t go into the which-came-first question, and that still nags at me.  I wasn’t obese until I couldn’t move.  I wasn’t physically inactive until it hurt to move.  In my mind, the fibro came first, then the added weight and physical inactivity, and then the depression.  That’s not really true, however, because I did have some bouts of depression much earlier.

I’m having a hard time trying to gather my thoughts here and pinpoint what the significance could be.  I’ll keep thinking on it, see if the fog lifts…

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