Tags: depression | exercise | neurotransmitters | inflammation

Recent Research on Depression

Dr. Small By Thursday, 05 May 2016 04:00 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

Antidepressant medications were first prescribed in the 1950s, and each year we see new breakthroughs that deliver important new ways to intervene and make real differences in people’s lives.

Because of the complexity of depression, with roots in both psychological and biochemical responses, the research spans a range of topics.

Exercise Fights Depression
Investigators at West Virginia University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed the results of 29 randomized, controlled studies of exercise intervention in patients with depressive symptoms and various arthritic ailments, including fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.

The studies included more than 2,000 adults, and the exercise interventions lasted at least four weeks, with approaches ranging from strength training to aerobic workouts. Sessions lasted 12 to 83 minutes.

Overall, exercise resulted in significant decreases in depressive symptoms, with more robust benefits for women than men.

The exact mechanism for the antidepressant effect of exercise is not certain, but we know that exercise results in the release of endorphins, the body’s natural antidepressant. It also has anti-inflammatory effects, which can reduce the pain of arthritis.

Easing pain can improve mood as well.

Biochemical Mood Modifiers

Alterations in neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine contribute to depressive symptoms. Increased or decreased levels of thyroid hormone can also alter mood in subtle or dramatic ways.

Antidepressant medications appear to relieve symptoms by reversing abnormal levels of neurotransmitters and hormones.

But that’s not the whole story. Investigators have reported that depressed patients may also have elevated levels of cytokines — immune-system compounds that accelerate inflammatory reactions.

In a recent study published by JAMA Psychiatry, Dr. Jeffrey Meyer and his colleagues used PET scans to measure brain inflammation in patients with depression. They found a 30 percent increase in inflammation in multiple brain regions of those who were suffering depression.

Unfortunately, traditional antidepressant medications have no effect on inflammation. Future studies will try to determine if medicines with anti-inflammatory effects can treat these symptoms.

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Because of the complexity of depression, with roots in both psychological and biochemical responses, the research spans a range of topics.
depression, exercise, neurotransmitters, inflammation
Thursday, 05 May 2016 04:00 PM
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