Did you know that cancer patients who receive the drug interferon alpha often become depressed as a side-effect? And did you know that people with rheumatoid arthritis and similar illnesses tend to suffer more than average with depression? Could there be a connection?
According to George Slavich, a clinical psychologist at the University of California in Los Angeles, the answer is yes. The drug interferon alpha boosts the inflammatory response of cancer patients to help fight the cancer. And rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease.
So is it possible that inflammation is the root cause of depression? Dr. Slavich seems to think so. He has studied depression for years and has found a common link with depression and inflammation. For instance, he found that he could put healthy people into a temporary state of depression and anxiety simply by giving them a vaccine that causes a spike in inflammation.
If this theory is true, it's great news. We can now look to the cause of the inflammation and find a way to treat the cause, rather than the symptom. What are some of the causes of inflammation? Infections are one proven cause. Eating too many trans fats and too much sugar is one proven cause. Obesity is another cause. But there's one cause that I think causes all cases of inflammation – and that's stress. Regardless of whether the cause of the inflammation is an infection, a bad diet, heavy metals, pesticides and other poisons, the pace of life, or making bad decisions, these are all stressors that can cause inflammation.
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In fact, the vast majority of the stressors I just listed are a result of modern life. We eat terribly. Even when we try to eat right, there are pesticides and other chemicals on and in the food. Our pace of life is so fast, many can't keep up. And our decision-making processes are so emotionally driven that we put ourselves in terribly stressful situations, such as severe debt, bad relationships, and working too much. We could avoid much of this stress simply by changing the way we think about life — or at least changing the way we let stress affect us.
Obviously, prevention is best. If you can avoid chronically stressful situations, then do so. We can't avoid stress completely. Things happen in life that cause temporary stress. Those situations are not the problem. It's chronic stress that causes ongoing damage to our bodies. Inflammation is an important part of your body's ability to heal, so you don't want to turn it off entirely. But it is a good idea to lower inflammation throughout your body to manageable levels.
Dr. Slavich has found that adding anti-inflammatory medicines to antidepressants not only improves symptoms, it also increases the proportion of people who respond to treatment. I'm not a fan of using drugs except in severe cases — and then only for a short period of time. All drugs have side effects. And the longer you take them, the worse those side effects will be.
Instead, get some exercise every day and take nutrients that are proven anti-inflammatories. Two of the best are omega-3 fatty acids and the spice turmeric. The best sources I've found for these two are Complete Daily Oils and Reduloxin. Together, they make a powerful anti-inflammation regimen.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.