Although depression affects millions of Americans each year, there’s still a persistent stigma that the illness is “all in our heads,” and a person with depression can simply snap out of it and cheer up if they try hard enough. But a new study shows that anti-inflammatory medications can help treat depression, providing further evidence that the illness is rooted in biology and — more importantly — offering a potential treatment option for individuals with depression.
A study published in the the journal Molecular Psychiatry earlier this week found that inflammation may play a significant role in clinical depression. When testing new anti-inflammatory drugs, researchers didn’t set out to assess them for their effectiveness in the treatment of depression. They simply collected mental health data from the participants, all of whom suffered from autoimmune diseases.
Researchers conducted a separate analysis and found that the anti-depressive effects of the drugs didn’t go hand-in-hand with the participants’ physical symptoms.
“The results provide important clues regarding the role of inflammatory cytokines in depression,” the researchers wrote in their final report, according to The Huffington Post.
According to previous research, people with high levels of inflammation in their bodies are less likely to benefit from antidepressants. Although further research is necessary before doctors can begin prescribing anti-cytokines for depression, the study provides important information about the underlying causes of the illness and a potential new treatment option for people who haven’t found an effective antidepressant.
The results of this study illustrate the complexities of depression and the many factors that can cause the illness. And, it has inspired further research that will hopefully result in a new way to help depressed individuals who haven’t found the right medication to alleviate their symptoms.