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Depression could be evolutionary byproduct of immune system
Date:3/1/2012

surviving infection was a key determinant in whether someone was able to pass on his or her genes. The authors propose that evolution and genetics have bound together depressive symptoms and physiological responses that were selected on the basis of reducing mortality from infection. Fever, fatigue/inactivity, social avoidance and anorexia can all be seen as adaptive behaviors in light of the need to contain infection, they write.

The theory provides a new explanation for why stress is a risk factor for depression. The link between stress and depression can be seen as the byproduct of a process that preactivates the immune system in anticipation of a wound, they write.

Similarly, a disruption of sleep patterns can be seen in both mood disorders and when the immune system is activated. This may come from our ancestors' need to stay on alert to fend off predators after injury, Miller says.

Their theory could also guide future genetic, physiological and clinical research on depression. In particular, the presence of biomarkers for inflammation may be able to predict whether someone will respond to various treatments for depression.

Miller and Raison are involved in ongoing research on whether certain medications, which are normally used to treat auto-immune diseases, can be effective with treatment-resistant depression.


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Contact: Kathi Baker
kobaker@emory.edu
404-727-9371
Emory University
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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