There is good evidence that chronic stress, like a bad marriage or financial problems, generates inflammation in our bodies, where it contributes to problems like hypertension. Inflammation can also affect our brains, even destroy the connections between our neurons called synapses. We have evidence that inflammation is a major factor in depression. Yet anti-inflammatory drugs don’t help many patients. So scientists want to know more about how chronic stress contributes to depression. They theorize that stress activates our fundamental innate immune response, then immune cells in our brain start making a lots of a protein called “complement 3”, which can inflame the brain and start whittling our synapses. Scientists want to find a direct way to block that response and reduce depression in patients.
The Medical Minute airs at 8:18 a.m., 1:20 p.m. and 5:18 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday on the 18 GPB radio stations across Georgia.