How Does Depression Affect Our Immune System?

Posted on Wednesday, March 6th, 2019

 

The Negative Effects of Depression On Our Immune System

  Depression is a disease that consumes the whole living body, not just the mind, as many people tend to believe. It is a disease that interferes with each and every single aspect of the individual’s life including his physical and mental health, professional life, social life and any other area of interest that one normally has. Unfortunately, according to the World Health Organization, currently, 300 million people worldwide are battling depression. In fact, anxiety and depression are the two most common mental health issues that affect the people of today. In the following article, we decided to talk about a side of depression that not many people are familiar with. We will discuss the negative effects depression has on no other than our immune system. Yes, there truly is not a body organ and system that is not affected by the presence of depression. And sad but true, depression affects our immune system as one of those body systems, exposing us to actual risk with each new day. Follow us to find out more about this topic.

Discussing the basics of depression

Depression, also known as a major depressive disorder, is the medical term being used to refer to an unfortunately common and quite serious medical illness that negatively reflects on every aspect of life. It is estimated that each year, around 17 million Americans will battle with the symptoms of depression. The good news is of course that depression is highly treatable by using the proper treatment methods and lifestyle changes. The most obvious signs of depression are feeling sad and having lost interest in activities and events that one has enjoyed it before. Weight loss, reduced appetite, sleep problems, increased fatigue, loss of sexual drive, cognitive issues, and even suicidal thoughts and unfortunately, suicide attempts are described as the most characteristic symptoms of depression. At worst, depression leads to suicide which has made suicide the second most common reason for death among young adults age 15-29, according to the World Health Organization. And as if living with these symptoms is not hard enough, these patients are surrounded by increased risks of heart disease, stroke, auto-immune diseases, etc. Luckily, depression can be effectively treated by using psychotherapy, anti-depressants, lifestyle changes, etc. However, the path through recovery is not an easy one. The duration and methods used exactly are individual for each patient, and there are a lot of factors to be considered. But in the end, recovery is possible, and the individual is expected to return to his/her normal everyday life.

Depression and its negative effects on our immune system

The brain is not the only organ on which the negative effects of depression are reflected upon. The cardiovascular, digestive, reproductive systems are affected as well. That is why, depression characterizes itself with such a variety of symptoms, affecting every part of the individual’s life. In addition, the immune system as well is commonly affected by depression. It is believed that depression affects our immune system as well. As you probably know, the immune system is responsible for maintaining us in a healthy state, by fighting off common infections, some of the potentially life-threatening. Once the immune system has been compromised, its ability to protect us against all the potential threats reduces gradually, and our bodies are left exposed to the dangers that the common infections pose. That is what depression leads to. It is believed that when left untreated, depression reflects on the immune system by reducing its ability and power to fight the common infections. Due to these events, we are now left vulnerable. A patient diagnosed with depression is expected to experience common colds and infections more often than a healthy individual. Often, it is believed that stress is the trigger that leads to depression. Stress is also known to cause inflammation in the body, and with that easily leading to heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and other potentially life-threatening conditions. When you put stress and depression in the same equation, you get inflammation and weakened immune system as a result. In fact, one scientific research published in the Archives of General Psychiatry has revealed rather interesting findings. According to the research, it is believed that there is a link between depression and stress and the increased risk of immune-related diseases such as AIDS, cancer, autoimmune diseases, and infections. And since the immune system is no longer able to fight the inflammation and any additional infection that might develop at the same time, you get the equation for a high-risk condition. Although more scientific research needs to be done on the topic, in order to investigate the mechanisms of action of depression and its effects toward the immune system, there is no denying the fact that depression reflects on the immune system as well and with that, endanger your life. That is why it is highly important to recognize the signs and symptoms and ask for help as soon as possible. Recovery is possible but only with your strong patience, motivation and time dedicated to this path of recovery.

Conclusion

Depression is sure not an easy thing to live with, especially knowing the fact that it exposes you to serious, life-threatening risks each day. Interfering with every aspect of the patient’s life, depression eliminates every chance that person has for leading a normal life until the depressive symptoms are not fully eliminated using effective treatment options. And when we say that depression exposes you to life-threatening risks we really do mean it. Apart from the risk of suicide due to suicidal thoughts that are a characteristic symptom of depression, there is also the risk of getting affected by infections, auto-immune diseases, and even AIDS as a result of depression. In conclusion, depression reflects on your immune system as well, putting your life in danger. Do not hesitate – get your depression treated as soon as possible and prevent it from controlling and endangering your life anymore!  
References

https://www.verywellmind.com/depression-statistics-everyone-should-know-4159056

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3181879/

https://www.suicidology.org/portals/14/docs/resources/factsheets/2011/depressionsuicide2014.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3181668/

http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/article-abstract/495231