Have you ever wondered why we consider mental health concerns “chemical imbalances” in our brains? It is an interesting story: it seems there was never actually an agreed upon theory in psychiatry or psychology that chemical imbalances in the brain were the cause of mental illness (Source) In fact, it seems that most mental health professionals were pretty sure the idea of chemical imbalances causing mental health wasn’t the case by the early 2000’s.
Far from asserting a chemical imbalance theory of mental illness, academic psychiatry—for at least the past 30 years—has advocated a bio-psycho-social (BPS) model of mental illness, as originally proposed by Dr George Engel.12,13
So if depression and other mental health issues aren’t caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, what does cause them? New research is showing that many mental health issues could be caused by, or partially caused by, inflammation (Source).
We now know that depression is associated with a chronic, low-grade inflammatory response and activation of cell-mediated immunity, as well as activation of the compensatory anti-inflammatory reflex system. (Source)
And we already know, from the famous ACE’s study and it’s follow ups that toxic stress & trauma significantly contribute to inflammatory diseases AND mental health issues (Source). Even Harvard medical is explaining depression as more of a psycho-neuro-immunological disorder (Source) and acknowledges the effects of stress on inflammation & mental health.
It is starting to seem pretty clear that inflammation is a serious risk factor, if not cause, of many mental health issues, including depression and anxiety.
Want to know how you can decrease inflammation as a treatment for anxiety & depression? Then stay tuned for the next post!