Brain Inflammation Affects Thinking and Emotions

In Anxiety, Brain, Depression, Influences, Obesity, Wellbeing by DC McGuireLeave a Comment

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food7_1Scientists have known for a while now that inflammation contributes to conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. But lately they have been turning up evidence that inflammation can affect the brain more directly and acutely, and might underlie a wider range of problems, from impaired cognition during infections to depression and even schizophrenia.
Inflammation, Illness, Obesity and Thinking
People typically don’t feel “100 percent,” cognitively, when they have a cold or flu infection. That commonplace observation has long hinted that inflammation—a major part of the body’s response to such infections—might play a role in the rapid, short-term lowering of cognition.
People with cancer are known to have impaired mood and cognition, even before they are diagnosed. A group of Korean researchers reported that as experimentally induced tumors grew in mice, levels of inflammation markers went and the mice showed increased depression-like behavior and some impaired cognitive functions.In March, Australian researchers reported that a high-fat, high-sugar diet increased the signs of inflammation in the a region of the rat’s brains, resulting in rats who performed worse than controls subjects on spatial memory tests.
Inflammation’s Connections to Anxiety, Depression, Memory, Bipolar Disorder, and Schizophrenia
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the effects of inflammation on thinking-related brain regions, inflammation also has been found to disrupt mood. Even a mild case of Salmonella causes enough of an inflammatory response in the brain so that sufferers showed a significant increase in levels of anxiety, depressed mood, and a decrease in memory functions. In some illnesses, patients with no previous history of mental disorders may become clinically depressed.
They also found a strong correlation between these inflammation signs and subjects’ histories of aggression. The psychiatric literature suggests that there can be a substantial overlap in risk factors and symptoms for some mood disorders and psychoses—perhaps the best example being bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, which are often confused by doctors. In recent years, both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia have been linked to inflammation.
Arguably the most compelling evidence for this association has to do with inflammation in utero or in early life. Both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia have been linked to childhood autoimmune diseases as well as maternal infections or inflammation during pregnancy. For example, a study published last year, based on data from thousands of California women who gave birth during 1959-1966, found that the children of women who reported a flu infection during pregnancy had proportionately four times as many diagnoses of bipolar disorder in later life. Genetic studies also suggest that at least some of the susceptibility to such diseases lies in gene variants related to immunity and inflammation.

Reported from an article by Jim Schnable. food7_1See more at: http://www.dana.org/News/The_Brain_Inflamed/#sthash.2U3QZwjm.dpuf

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