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Inflammation Levels Linked to Risk of Depression

In a recent study, researchers looked at blood levels of a marker for inflammation and found that higher levels were associated with a higher risk of depression.

The study included 73,131 adults between the ages of 20 and 100 who participated in the Copenhagen General Population and the Copenhagen City Heart studies. The researchers determined which participants suffered from depression via self-reported antidepressant use, register-based prescriptions of antidepressants and register-based hospitalization from depression.

They then examined blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP)-- a marker of inflammation—and found a correlation between high levels of CRP and depression. They also found that higher levels of the protein were linked to a higher risk of being hospitalized for depression.

While this study has found a link between depression and inflammation, it does not show that high CRP levels cause mental illness. Larger studies are needed to determine the exact effect of inflammation on depression.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Herlev Hospital in Denmark. It was published online December 24, 2012, in JAMA Psychiatry.

While the most common way to combat inflammation is through anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen, there are also natural methods. Previous studies have suggested that omega-3s, foods with high levels of flavonoids, and the compound lycopene may reduce levels of inflammation.

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