MONDAY, Dec. 24 (HealthDay News) -- People suffering from depression or psychological distress appear to have higher than normal blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), an indicator of inflammatory disease, according to new research from Denmark.
Previously, CRP has been linked with an increased risk for heart disease.
"People with increased CRP have a two- to threefold risk of depression," said lead researcher Dr. Borge Gronne Nordestgaard, from Copenhagen University Hospital.
Whether increased CRP is a cause of depression or only a sign of it isn't known, he noted. "We can't really say what is the chicken and what is the egg," Nordestgaard said.
And whether lowering CRP will help relieve depression isn't clear, he added.
Nordestgaard noted that increased levels of CRP are associated with people "with an unhealthy lifestyle -- obese people and people with chronic diseases." But their findings held even when they accounted for these factors.
For the study, published online Dec. 24 in the Archives of General Psychiatry, Nordestgaard's team collected data on more than 73,000 adults who took part in population studies in Copenhagen. Specifically, they looked at self-reported antidepressant use, antidepressant prescriptions and hospitalization for depression.
Among people taking antidepressants, the odds of also having high CRP levels were almost three times higher than for those not taking these drugs, the researchers noted.
In addition, elevated CRP levels were associated with more than doubled odds of hospitalization for depression.
More than 21 million Americans suffer from depression, a leading cause of disability, according to Mental Health America. Earlier studies have suggested that low-grade systemic inflammation may contribute to its development, the researchers noted.
Even though someone suffering from an inflamma
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