Brain inflammation may trigger depression in multiple sclerosis patients: Study

Brain inflammation may trigger depression in multiple sclerosis patients: Study

With symptoms of depression varying from person to person, it is not easy to recognize the problem. Moreover, the heightened feeling of sadness and loneliness and the fact that the disorder creeps in without any prior warning add to the woes of patients of depression.

There are a plethora of reasons that cause depressive behavior, which affects nearly 9 percent of adult Americans, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A recent study has revealed that multiple sclerosis (MS) patients can also suffer from depression. The study, “Hippocampal Neuroinflammation, Functional Connectivity, and Depressive Symptoms in Multiple Sclerosis,” aimed to examine if the neuroinflammation in the hippocampus of the brain caused depressive behavior that was linked to MS. The authors of the study hypothesized that since the signs of MS resulted from the body’s abnormal immune response, it may also trigger symptoms of depression.

Inflammation of hippocampus causes depression

The research, published online in the journal Biological Psychiatry in December 2015, used a combination of two complementary brain imaging techniques to examine the link between hippocampal immune response, functional connections, and manifestations of depression in 13 MS patients and 22 healthy control subjects.

The researchers used positron emission tomography (PET) to measure activated microglia and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure the strength of hippocampal connections with other regions of the brain that are related to emotion.

Stressing on the fact that PET imaging showed immune activation in the hippocampus of MS patients, one of the co-authors of the study Dr. Alessandro Colasanti of the King’s College London said, “We also discovered that more inflammation was associated to more severe symptoms of depression.”

The FMRI revealed that the activation of the immune system in the hippocampus had brought about a transformation in its links with other regions of the brain. “This study, combining two advanced complementary brain imaging methods, suggests that the inflammation of the hippocampus affects the brain function and causes depression,” added Colasanti.

The authors of the study suggested aggravated rates of depression in MS patients due to hippocampal inflammation and indicated that specific therapeutic interventions for brain inflammation treatment would assist in retrieving functions of the brain, protecting it against depressive disorder in MS patients.

Symptoms of MS intensify at the age of 50

The findings of the study cannot be underestimated as nearly 400,000 Americans are afflicted with MS and approximately 200 new cases of MS are detected each week as per the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation.

Though there is no specific age at which MS affects people, but diagnoses of people in the U.S. suffering from this disorder pinpoint the most affected age group to be 20-50 years. While the problem does not affect all equally, its symptoms intensify when people with MS turn 50 years or older.

Apart from bringing about impairment in the normal lives of people, this disorder also causes depression. This is a matter of concern as depression is identified as the leading cause of disability for Americans aged between 15 and 44.3 years, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Road to recovery

The authors said that a targeted therapy of brain inflammation can help re-establish brain function and offer protect against depression in MS. If you or your loved one has been suffering from depression, the Texas Depression Treatment Helpline can assist you in getting information about the best depression treatment centers in Texas. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number (866) 827-0282 or chat online for further expert advice on depression disorder clinics in Texas.