• Siri DeMarche

Tips to Alleviate Anxiety & Depression by Addressing Systemic Inflammation

Updated: Jul 22

*As always, scroll to the very bottom for a TLDR synopsis*


What do anxiety and depression have in common? Inflammation. Inflammation is intricately related to both depression and anxiety. Whether it's seasonal or all year-long, if you struggle with depression, you're not alone. According to the World Health Organization, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. And sadly, the rise in mental health issues isn't likely to decline anytime soon.


Regardless of whether inflammation is the root cause of depression, inflammation has the potential to trigger depression and exacerbate it. Research has shown that "while many factors play a role in the development of depression and fatigue, both have been associated with increased inflammatory activation of the immune system affecting both the periphery and the central nervous system (CNS)." In addition, antidepressants have been shown to decrease inflammation- and higher levels of inflammation at baseline is often a predictor of how well depression treatments work. Furthermore, research has shown that depression is more common in patients with autoimmune diseases compared to chronic conditions (even chronic degenerative diseases) which can be likely explained by what they both have in common: chronic inflammation.


According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), anxiety disorders (which range from generalized anxiety to social anxiety to post traumatic stress disorders) affect more than forty million Americans. Depression was the first mental health condition to be related to inflammation, but due to similarities between anxiety and depression (and the fact that they often occur together) anxiety was not far behind.


Research has shown that anxiety symptoms are correlated with increased levels of cytokines (inflammatory substances secreted by immune cells). Higher levels of inflammation have also been observed in patients with PTSD, panic disorders, and generalized anxiety disorder. Other studies showed that people with lupus have higher levels of anxiety due to inflammation in the brain.


If you are curious as to if chronic inflammation is at the root of your anxiety and/or depression and the impact that inflammation is having on your wellness, I recommend having these labs run:

  • Autoimmune Reactivity Brain Labs

  • Microbiome Labs

  • Wheat and Gluten Testing

  • Food-Immune Reactivity Labs

  • Predictive Autoimmunity Labs

How do you address inflammation for better mental health? Of course it is always a good idea to work directly with a qualified professional to tackle chronic inflammation related to a mental health condition. I recommend a functional medicine doctor for a variety of reasons. That being said, there are lifestyle and dietary changes you can make on your own that will help lower inflammation and ease the stress on your brain.


Start by adopting an anti-inflammatory diet. This means decreasing your intake of sugar, dairy, gluten, and processed foods. At the same time, focus on increasing your intake of quality anti-inflammatory foods like avocados, olive oil, fatty fish, leafy greens, berries, nuts and seeds, and healthy carbs like sweet potato.


Supplements are also an important part of fending off inflammation. There are a few that I recommend with strong anti-inflammatory properties and that work to balance the immune system. I am happy to provide this information to anyone interested, just let me know.


If you're struggling with anxiety or depression, it's easy to feel helpless. But learning the intricate connection between mental health conditions and inflammation can give you some direction and allow you to be proactive in supporting your mental health.


TLDR

Inflammation is intricately related to both depression and anxiety. Regardless of whether inflammation is the root cause of depression, inflammation has the potential to trigger depression and exacerbate it. Research has shown that depression is more common in patients with autoimmune diseases compared to chronic conditions (even chronic degenerative diseases) which can be likely explained by what they both have in common: chronic inflammation. Anxiety symptoms are correlated with increased levels of cytokines (inflammatory substances secreted by immune cells). Higher levels of inflammation have also been observed in patients with PTSD, panic disorders, and generalized anxiety disorder. Other studies showed that people with lupus have higher levels of anxiety due to inflammation in the brain. If you are curious as to if chronic inflammation is at the root of your anxiety and/or depression and the impact that inflammation is having on your wellness, I recommend having these labs run:

  • Autoimmune Reactivity Brain Labs

  • Microbiome Labs

  • Wheat and Gluten Testing

  • Food-Immune Reactivity Labs

  • Predictive Autoimmunity Labs

Of course it is always a good idea to work directly with a qualified professional to tackle chronic inflammation related to a mental health condition. I recommend a functional medicine doctor for a variety of reasons. Here are some lifestyle and dietary changes you can make on your own that will help lower inflammation and ease the stress on your brain. Adopt an anti-inflammatory diet. This means decreasing your intake of sugar, dairy, gluten, and processed foods. At the same time, focus on increasing your intake of quality inflammatory foods like avocados, olive oil, fatty fish, leafy greens, berries, nuts and seeds, and healthy carbs like sweet potato. Supplements are also an important part of fending off inflammation. There are a few that I recommend with strong anti-inflammatory properties and that work to balance the immune system. I am happy to provide this information to anyone interested, just let me know.


Statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or any other medical body. I do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.



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