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expert reaction to study looking at inflammation in patients with depression

A study published in American Journal of Psychiatry looks at inflammation in patients with depression, using data from the UK Biobank.

This Roundup accompanied an SMC Briefing.


Prof David Curtis, Honorary Professor, UCL Genetics Institute, said:

“It is already well known that depression and physical ill health, including measures of inflammation, are associated with each other. This study confirms that levels of CRP, a marker of inflammation, tend to be somewhat higher in people who report being depressed at some time in their lives. However this finding is not novel. There are a number of possible reasons for the association, for example that particular illnesses or adverse situations might increase the risk of depression and might also lead to increased inflammation, and this study does not really allow firm conclusions to be drawn regarding such relationships. I am doubtful that inflammation has a key role in causing depression and I’m not sure that the present study adds much to our understanding of depression.

“Certainly there is nothing to suggest that people should try to treat their depression with anti-inflammatory medications. As well as having no proven effect on depression, these medications have dangerous side effects whereas anti-depressants are safe and effective. Anti-inflammatory medications are reckoned to be responsible for many thousands of deaths every year in the USA.”



‘Elevated C-Reactive Protein in Patients With Depression, Independent of Genetic, Health, and Psychosocial Factors: Results From the UK Biobank’ by Maria C. Pitharouli et al. was published in American Journal of Psychiatry at 8:01 UK time on Friday 14th May.



Declared interests

Prof David Curtis: “No COI.”

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