A growing number of scientists believe that depression is a physical illness, resembling an allergy, despite being commonly believed to be a mental condition.
George Slavich, a clinical psychologist at the University of California in Los Angeles, has said that he believes that depression is as much a physical condition as it is a mental one.
Speaking to the Guardian he said: ‘I don’t even talk about it as a psychiatric condition any more.
This new theory is centred around the notion that everyone feels miserable when they are ill, and the associated feelings of being unable to do anything while ill are very similar to typical symptoms of depression.
The similarity between the two has lead scientists to believe that both are caused by inflammation, a part of the immune system that acts as a defence against illness, and is set off by a family of proteins called cytokines, which switches the brain into sickness mode.
Cytokines and inflammation have been previously proven to dramatically increase during depression, and also in people with bipolar, while decreasing in periods when the illness is not seriously affecting a sufferer’s life.
Carmine Pariante, a psychiatrist at Kings College London has said that it is hoped that a blood test can be established within five to 10 years that can measure inflammation in people with depression, so that treatment can be developed accordingly.
Although not a full blood test, researchers have already developed a finger-prick test that can monitor inflammation in a single drop of blood.
This article first appeared on ‘Metro News’ on 4 January 2015.