Studies have shown a link between chronic depression and the immune system, suggesting that immune system function can decrease when faced with stress and sadness. Depressed individuals seem to produce inflammatory responses in the body, which can decrease healthy metabolic processes and immune system function. The disorder, categorized by the symptoms of sadness and fatigue, has been shown to increase susceptibility to preventable illnesses like a cold or the flu. It is known that the immune system is affected in a large portion of the depressed population, promoting many health experts to advise patients to seek natural stress-reduction techniques to help alleviate depressive symptoms, which in turn may help strengthen immune function.
Research has indicated that individuals suffering from a moderate to severe case of depression tend to react negatively to an invading virus or bacteria entering the body. It is known that those who suffer from depression release inflammatory responses and hormones, like cortisol or adrenaline, which can decrease healthy immune function. In these studies on depression and the immune system, individuals who were depressed were more likely to develop an illness such as the cold or flu compared to people who were categorized as generally happy. More and more researchers agree that depression not only affects the mind and emotions, but has a deteriorating effect on the health of the body.
Depression and the immune system have been studied intensely when dealing with patients who have immune-related diseases, like cancer. It has been shown that individuals who suffer from depression due to a disease diagnosis can unknowingly weaken their immune system. This may slow the overall curing of the disease, as depression, anxiety and stress have all been shown to release hormones that depress the immune system. Many treatment facilities dealing with diseases associated with the immune system often suggest using therapy to help alleviate depressive symptoms.
Health experts specializing in depression and the immune system suggest that those who suffer from depression seek natural outlets of expression to help alleviate depression. These outlets usually include some type of talk therapy, which can be very helpful in reducing stress and depression in some people. By alleviating depression and depressive symptoms, most health specialists agree this can improve immune function and prevent an individual from being more susceptible to viruses or illnesses. For severe cases of depression and anxiety, most doctors recommend an antidepressant to relieve excessive and somewhat dangerous thoughts and emotions associated with the disorder.