New research looks at depression as a symptom of brain inflammation?

eleos counselling blog_brainLast week an article published in New Scientist threw a different light onto the subject of depression. Research carried out by the University of medicine in Germany, suggests that depression could be a reaction to an infection, causing the brain to become inflamed.

Although this study was very small research scientists are excited by the results. It is thought that stress may cause an inflammation which spreads to the brain. Although the brain has its own immune system, the blood-brain barrier, it is thought that some infection can go past this and cause cells in the brain’s very own immune system called microglia to kill off neurons.

What is also interesting is that the researchers speculated that Alzheimer’s disease can be a result of microglia killing off brain cells, due to ongoing infection. Research carried out in the UK at Southampton University suggest that an anti-inflammatory drug called Etanercept, which is normally used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, can help reduce some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s such as poor memory.

One comment made in the article is that categorising depression as a medical problem, rather than a psychological problem, in of itself can cause a stigma for people suffering with depression.

What was not clear from the article is whether depression causes the inflammation or the information causes depression. The article does state that poor diet, obesity, smoking and inactivity can cause an increase in the risk of inflammation. Ironically, a overeating, under exercising, and a bad diet are often some of the things that a depressed person would use to self soothe themselves.

The articled stated that more research needs to be carried out, to make a definite link between depression and inflammation, whether this will result in a new form of treatment for depression, one would have to wait and see.


Is it time to rethink addiction treatment protocols in this country?

A recent article in the Daily Mail, newspaper, has raised the profilealcohol-black-and-white-eleos counselling of treatment for alcohol-related addiction. The article highlighted the case of one woman, in Liverpool who has had several bouts of rehab, and now has stopped drinking due to her deteriorating health.

The story is so so familiar and typifies, how one can easily slide into an addictive behaviour, as a way of coping with life’s pressures. The person in question went from having a few drinks night, to help her fall asleep to a full bottle of vodka and finally to drinking from the moment she got up, in the morning.

It is estimated that treatment for alcohol-related problems cost the UK taxpayer 3 ½ billion pounds last year. Experts have stated that there is an epidemic of binge drinkers in the UK, which is putting the NHS and recovery agencies under enormous stress. One hospital in Liverpool is quoted as saying that they see 20 to 30 people in various stages of alcohol-related health problems, such as oral cancer and liver disease.

One interesting fact to come out of this article is there is little known about the socio-economic effects of so-called binge drinking. It is estimated that binge drinking is costing the UK taxpayer £550,00 an hour.

There are no quick fix solutions in answer to this epidemic, but education at an early age could be one thing we do as parents and adults. Showing young adults and younger, the effects of binge drinking could pay dividends in the long run.

Of course over stressed drug and alcohol agencies have little or no time for such educational, Yet proactive work. Nevertheless, Could it be possibly be a time to rethink our treatment protocols in this country. Incorporating so-called withdraw drugs as well as psychotherapy /counselling, could be one of the ways of helping people on the road to recovery. My own total evidence would suggest that people often want to talk about, and come to terms with some of the damage that they have done whilst they’ve been in the depths of their addiction, unfortunately counselling/psychotherapy is really offered, to help people deal with these fallout effects.

Counselling and psychotherapy can play a large part in the recovery process, unfortunately locally this has to be paid for by the person with the addiction.

My question is, could it be that some of that money (£550,000 an hour) would be better spent helping people in a different way rather than offering at NHS bed in a drying out Ward.

Sending trained professionals into schools to help young adults understand exactly what a unit of alcohol is, and looks like, the effects binge drinking, and the effects of drink -related diseases.


Eleos counsellor has been working on a new program,to help children manage their anger. This will be rolled out for the new academic year. We hope in the future to be involved with more educational work, such as helping young people have a healthy attitude to alcohol.

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