Loss of healthy bacteria linked to depression

Researchers think that higher rates of depression could be because of loss of healthy bacteria.

Washington: Researchers think that higher rates of depression among people could be because of a loss of healthy bacteria.

In an effort to pinpoint potential triggers leading to inflammatory responses that eventually contribute to depression, researchers are taking a close look at the immune system of people living in today’s cleaner modern society.

Emory neuroscientist Charles Raison and colleagues said there is mounting evidence that disruptions in ancient relationships with microorganisms in soil, food and the gut may contribute to the increasing rates of depression.

According to the authors, the modern world has become so clean, we are deprived of the bacteria our immune systems came to rely on over long ages to keep inflammation at bay.

"We have known for a long time that people with depression, even those who are not sick, have higher levels of inflammation.

"Since ancient times benign microorganisms, some times referred to as ``old friends,`` have taught the immune system how to tolerate other harmless microorganisms, and in the process, reduce inflammatory responses that have been linked to the development of most modern illnesses, from cancer to depression," explained Raison.

"If the exposure to administration of the ``old friends`` improves depression, the important question of whether we should encourage measured re-exposure to benign environmental microorganisms will not be far behind," concluded the authors.

The article was published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.


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