Evidence-Based Reviews

Depression and inflammation: Examining the link

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For psychiatrists seeing patients with an inflammatory condition, brief explanations of the known links between depression and inflammation can provide patients—particularly those ambivalent about seeking mental health care—support for engaging in treatment and adhering to medication. Describing the links between inflammation and depression also can help encourage regular exercise and healthy diets rich in fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids. In cases of treatment-resistant depression, particularly in those with known high inflammatory factors, it may be worthwhile to consider anti-inflammatory agents, such as infliximab, as an adjuvant treatment.

The relationship between inflammation and depression is rapidly unfolding, but the full intricacies have not yet described. However, this beginning awareness of the interplay among stress, inflammation, and depression can broaden our approach to care and treatment.

Bottom Line

Depression and inflammation are linked in many ways, although neither appears to be wholly necessary or sufficient for the other. Most likely there exists a particular subset of patients for whom inflammation will precipitate and perpetuate depression.

Related Resources

Drug Brand Names

Infliximab • Remicade Ribavirin • Rebetol, Virazole
Interferon-α • Intron

Dr. Almond reports no financial relationship with any company whose products are mentioned in this article or with manufacturers of competing products.


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