What if depression were an infection? You feel some of the early symptoms first: for instance, fatigue, loss of interest and sleep disturbances. As your symptoms get more serious, your friends urge you to see a doctor. When you arrive at the doctor’s office, the doctor evaluates your symptoms, listens to your heart and gives you a quick blood test. After the visit, you receive a prescription to help treat the infection and reduce some of the inflammation associated with it. In a week, you’re feeling healthy again — the depression is gone.
It might sound like a pipe dream, but scientists suspect this scenario isn’t very far from the truth. The link between infections and mental illnessWhen people are depressed, they feel sick. They lose their appetite. They feel tired all the time. Their joints ache.
Although most of us focus on the psychological symptoms associated with depression (for instance, hopelessness and low mood), these physical symptoms are no less real. In fact, according to a study that examined over 25,000 patients across 14 countries, roughly 69 percent of people with depression first seek treatment because of their physical symptoms- not their mental symptoms.
Since mood disorders often result in symptoms not unlike those found in physical illnesses, a group of Danish scientists sought to determine whether mental and physical illnesses were closer than previously thought. In this study, scientists examined the medical records of over 3 million people born between 1945 and 1996, comparing the incidence of infections such as sepsis and hepatitis with the incidence of mood disorders such as depression and bipolar.
— Psychology Today