What Is The Relationship Between Depression And The Immune System?

Question: What is the relationship between depression and the immune system?

Answer: Depression really has profound effects on the immune system. Depression can cause increases in a variety of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline and various other inflammatory substance such as interleukin-6.

Increases in all of these hormones and other substances can cause significant decrease in the body's ability to repair itself and for a variety of organ systems to function well. This may lead to inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. It can cause osteoporosis. It may lead to various infections because of a breakdown in normal immune system functioning. And it can also cause or worsen cancers.

So diagnosing and treating depression not only helps a person to feel and function better, but it may also preserve their long-term physical health.

Next: Are There Any Prescribed Medications That Increase My Risk Of Becoming Depressed (E.G., The Pill, Accutane, Steroids)?

David Brendel, M.D., Ph.D.
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