Depression: the Radical Theory Linking it to Inflammation

Alison Abbott considers a persuasive case for the link between body and mind.

Collage of coloured sagittal MRI scans of the human brain.
Magnetic resonance imaging scans of the human brain.Credit: Simon Fraser/SPL/Getty

The Inflamed Mind: A Radical New Approach to Depression Edward Bullmore Short (2018)

Depression affects one in four people at some time in their lives. It is often difficult to treat, in part because its causes are still debated. Psychiatrist Edward Bullmore is an ardent proponent of a radical theory now gaining traction: that inflammation in the brain may underlie some instances. His succinct, broad-brush study, The Inflamed Mind, looks at the mounting evidence.

The book outlines a persuasive case for the link between brain inflammation and depression. Bullmore pleads with the medical profession to open its collective mind, and the pharmaceutical industry to open its research budget, to the idea. He provides a current perspective on how the science of psychiatry is slowly emerging from a decades-long torpor. He sees the start of a shift in the Cartesian view that disorders of the body ‘belong’ to physicians, whereas those of the more ‘immaterial’ mind ‘belong’ to psychiatrists. Accepting that some cases of depression result from infections and other inflammation-causing disorders of the body could lead to much-needed new treatments, he argues. . .

via Depression: the Radical Theory Linking it to Inflammation — Madison Area Lyme Support Group

6 thoughts on “Depression: the Radical Theory Linking it to Inflammation

  1. There are a number of treatments to reduce inflammatory gut bacteria that aren’t really “drugs” per se. Most strategies involve increasing the level of healthy gut bacteria. It seems that all of us have lost about half our health gut bacteria by moving from the farm into the city. This relates partly to the chlorine in our drinking water and the partly to the overuse of pesticides (like Roundup) and antibiotics in our meat.

    Some people can experience a big improvement in depression and anxiety by taking probiotics and/or or eating fermented foods (yogurt, miso, kimchi, pickles, raw milk etc) that contain health bacteria. There are also dietary changes people can make to increase healthy bacteria – increasing servings of fresh fruits and vegetables increases health gut bacteria. As do walnuts, ultra virgin olive oil, chocolate, coffee, green tea and exercise.

    It’s also important to avoid antibiotics, antacids and other drugs that harm them.

    I highly recommend the book The Diet Myth by Tim Spector, which contains lots of great recommendations about what to eat:


  2. I would say about 30% of prescription drugs can cause depression. Statins especially are notorious for causing depression and memory problems. Your husband’s doctor should have warned him about these potential side effects.


  3. I was treated with intravenous steroids for my depression in order to reduce brain inflammation. Depression can be due to autoimmune encephalitis. It’s important to have autoimmune testing performed. I had high levels of Anti-Tg and Anti-TPO antibodies.


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