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New study shows anti-inflammatories help alleviate depression
Move over SSRIs, Advil is on the way.
- A new study found that anti-inflammatory medications provide "reasonably safe" relief from depression.
- The meta-analysis discovered that 26 out of 30 studies showed the efficacy of NSAIDs, omega-3s, and others help combat mental health issues.
- While an important advancement in treating depression, root causes of inflammation, such as diet and stress, should be addressed first.
In his new book, The Body: A Guide for Occupants, Bill Bryson writes that during the initial stages of the technological revolution in the nineteenth century, medicine was moving backwards. Just as industrious civilizations were pushing boundaries in machinery, the understanding of biological machinery devolved. He writes,
"Until well into the nineteenth century most doctors approached diseases not as distinct afflictions, each requiring its own treatment, but as generalized imbalances affecting the whole body."
The humors were still considered real; bloodletting remained common even as death rates soared. Not until the twentieth century did the age of specialization take hold. Yet in many ways we seem to have overcorrected. Doctors and researchers became so fascinated on singular trees that they completely forget the interconnected nature of the forest.
As the gut microbiome is increasingly being implicated in mental health issues, we've had to reassess our understanding of mental health. We're now well aware how an inflamed digestive system throws your mental and emotional state out of balance. In that light, perhaps it should be unsurprising that a new study, published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, has found that anti-inflammatory medication is seeing success in treating major depression.
How inflammation in the body could be causing depression
Inflammation is the body's response to a wide range of irritants and stress. When you cut yourself, the red region around the laceration is thanks to cytokines rushing in to defend the region, destroying bacteria before they spread. Yet it's not only a cut that send cytokines flooding into a region. Inflammatory diets, such as those high in carbohydrates and sugars, can keep your body in a constant state of inflammation—and inflammation has been linked to depression, as well as immune functioning, sleep, impulse control, and overall mood.
In fact, this is not the first study making this connection. Researchers were looking into the connection between anti-inflammatories and depression for at least five years.
For this meta-analysis, the group of researchers from China looked at 30 randomized controlled trials that included 1,610 participants. Of these, 26 suggested that a variety of anti-inflammatory agents, including NSAIDs, cytokine inhibitors, statins, and omega-3 fatty acids, reduced depressive symptoms better than placebos. They write,
"The overall analysis of 30 RCTs suggested a significant antidepressant effect of anti-inflammatory agents in comparison with placebo for patients with MDD in various efficacy outcomes. A significantly larger reduction in depressive rating scales was found in the intervention group, with moderate heterogeneity among studies. Similarly, the response and remission rates were significantly higher for patients taking anti-inflammatory drugs with low heterogeneity."
Packs of Advil Liqui-Gels Medicine on shelf, they are 200mg ibuprofen capsules, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for relief in migraines, headaches, fever, muscle and joint pain.
Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images
With an increasing number of mental health conditions afflicting humans, and with lackluster results from the common course of treatment, SSRIs—which, over the long-term, have a tendency to negatively affect the microbiome—new courses of treatment are necessary. The group of researchers from China concluded that the anti-inflammatory agents studied are "reasonably safe."
Of course, we also must question the advice of taking anti-inflammatory in certain situations, such as a means for countering a high-inflammatory diet. In such cases, the best advice would be to look for the root cause of the issue, and we know that there are links between depression and anxiety and diet. Medications should never take the place of better lifestyle decisions.
Diet is not the only cause of inflammation, although it has become an increasingly problematic one. Dependent upon condition, anti-inflammatory agents could be a relatively safe line of defense for both problems with inflammation and in the treatment of depression. More research is needed, but it's a solid start.
- Excess carbohydrates could lead to anxiety, depression, and ... ›
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Ready to see the future? Nanotronics CEO Matthew Putman talks innovation and the solutions that are right under our noses.
Innovation in manufacturing has crawled since the 1950s. That's about to speed up.
A scientist in Sweden makes a controversial presentation at a future of food conference.
- A behavioral scientist from Sweden thinks cannibalism of corpses will become necessary due to effects of climate change.
- He made the controversial presentation to Swedish TV during a "Future of Food" conference in Stockholm.
- The scientist acknowledges the many taboos this idea would have to overcome.
Depiction of cannibalism in the Medieval ages.
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President Vladimir Putin announces approval of Russia's coronavirus vaccine but scientists warn it may be unsafe.
A new coronavirus vaccine on display at the Nikolai Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow, Russia.
Credit: Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr/ Russian Direct Investment Fund via AP
Medical workers draw blood from volunteers participating in a trial of a coronavirus vaccine at the Budenko Main Military Hospital outside Moscow, Russia.
Credit: Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP
A report from the New York Times raises questions over how the teletherapy startup Talkspace handles user data.
- In the report, several former employees said that "individual users' anonymized conversations were routinely reviewed and mined for insights."
- Talkspace denied using user data for marketing purposes, though it acknowledged that it looks at client transcripts to improve its services.
- It's still unclear whether teletherapy is as effective as traditional therapy.
Talkspace.com<p>Former employees also questioned the legitimacy of certain interventions by the company into client-therapist interactions. For example, after one therapist sent a client a link to an online anxiety worksheet, a company representative instructed her to try to keep clients inside the app.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"I was like, 'How do you know I did that?'" Karissa Brennan, a therapist who worked with Talkspace from 2015 to 2017, told the Times. "They said it was private, but it wasn't."</p><p>Other former employees said the company would pay special attention to its "enterprise partner" clients, who worked at companies like Google. One therapist said Talkspace contacted her for taking too long to respond to Google clients.</p><p>Talkspace responded to the Times with a Medium <a href="https://medium.com/@founders_22883/talkspace-founders-respond-to-a-new-york-times-article-78d6f5c45c59" target="_blank">post</a>, which claimed the Times report contained false and "uninformed assertions."</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Talkspace is a HIPAA/HITECH and SOC2 approved platform, audited annually by external vendors, and has deployed additional technologies to keep its data safe, exceeding all existing regulatory requirements," the post states.</p>