About one third of people with depression have high levels of inflammation markers [CRP (C-reactive protein)] in their blood. New research indicates that persistent inflammation affects the brain in ways that are connected with stubborn symptoms of depression, such as anhedonia, the inability to experience pleasure.
“Some patients taking antidepressants continue to suffer from anhedonia,” lead author Felger says. “Our data suggest that by blocking inflammation or its effects on the brain, we may be able to reverse anhedonia and help depressed individuals who fail to respond to antidepressants.”
A previous study of people with difficult-to-treat depression found that those with high inflammation (as measured with CRP) improved in response to the anti-inflammatory antibody infliximab. Next, Felger is planning to test whether L-DOPA, a medicine that targets the brain chemical dopamine in Parkinson’s disease, can increase connectivity in reward-related brain regions in patients with high-inflammation depression.
According to Dr. Harold Levinson, the results of this important study indicates a unique type of depression caused by high inflammation interfering with functional communications in parts of the brain related to feelings of pleasure and reward.
Importantly, there are differing mechanisms triggering depression. These include psychological and stress factors as well as abnormal neurotransmitter systems known to involve serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, etc. And Levinson discovered a cerebellar-vestibular (CV) mechanism contributing to both depression and anxiety as well as favorable therapeutic responses to CV enhancing medications. Clinically, overlapping mechanisms are often involved in depression and so holistic treatments are required.
About Dr. Harold Levinson
Formerly Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at New York University Medical Center, Dr. Harold Levinson is currently Director of the Levinson Medical Center for Learning Disabilities in Long Island, New York. He is a well-known neuropsychiatrist, clinical researcher and author. For more information, call 1(800)334-7323 or
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