More than 18 million Americans suffer from a depressive disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Addiction in families and trauma may lead an individual to develop depression over time. Various medications can treat the symptoms of the condition, but new research is helping experts inch closer to a cure.
Recently, researchers at Vanderbilt University discovered a common link between depression and how the immune system responds to the flu. The study, which was published in the December issue of Neuropsychopharmacology, tested the inflammatory responses of mice who were exposed to the common cold. The animals exhibited “despair-like” behavior, leading researchers to believe that this may be related to depression in humans.
Randy Blakely, an author of the study, found that inflammatory cytokines heighten the activity in serotonin transporters. Serotonin is the key chemical produced in the brain that affects the emotional responses of individuals. Blakely called the inflammatory molecules “anti-Prozac,” a drug commonly used to treat symptoms of depression.
Depression will be the second-largest killer of Americans by 2020, according to the World Health Organization. The condition has also been deemed a factor in cases of fatal coronary disease. Rehabilitation facilities can help individuals manage the condition over time and live healthier lives.