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Inflammation is a normal part of the immune systems’ response to:

  • external injuries (ex: a thorn in your finger)
  • pathogens (germs like bacteria and viruses)
  • and diseases that cause inflammation (cystitis, bronchitis, dermatitis).

An inflammatory process starts when chemicals are released by the damaged tissue. In response, white blood cells make substances that cause cells to divide and grow and rebuild tissue to help repair the injury. Ideally once the body is healed from a virus, injury, etc. the inflammatory process ends.

However, inflammation doesn’t always help the body and sometimes, even where there is no injury, the immune system fights against the body’s own cells, causing harmful, chronic inflammation.

Why the chronic inflammation continues is not always known, but it may be caused by infections that don’t go away, or conditions such as obesity. Examples of chronic inflammatory diseases include:

These diseases can last for years or even a lifetime and their severity varies so it may come as no surprise that people with a medical illness or condition are more likely to suffer from depression.

The reverse is also true: the risk of developing some physical illness is higher in people with depression.

Ongoing research is also exploring whether physiological changes seen in depression may play a role in increasing the risk of physical illness. In people with depression, scientists have found changes in the way several different systems in the body function, all of which can have an impact on physical health.

Signs of increased inflammation may include:

  • Changes in the control of heart rate and blood circulation
  • Abnormalities in stress hormones
  • Metabolic changes typical of those seen in people at risk for diabetes

What can you do to reduce chronic inflammation?

There are a number of different factors that can cause or contribute to inflammation including diet, physical activity, and smoking. Fortunately, making changes in diet, physical activity, and smoking can help you to control – and possibly even reverse – inflammation.

Consider following these five tips for reducing inflammation:

Please remember this information is intended for educational purposes only and should not substitute medical advice from a healthcare provider.