Front. Psychol., 17 August 2012 | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00297

Taking the perspective that a depressive state reflects inflammation: implications for the use of antidepressants

  • School of Social Work, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, USA

This paper reviews both the evidence that supports the characterization of depression as an inflammatory disorder and the different biochemical mechanisms that have been postulated for the connection between inflammation and depression. This association offers credible explanation for the short term efficacy of antidepressants, which have short term anti-inflammatory effects. Evidence for those anti-inflammatory effects is discussed. Evidence of the contrary long-term effects of antidepressants, which increase rather than decrease inflammation, is also reviewed. It is argued that this increase in inflammation would predict an increase in chronicity among depressed patients that have been treated with antidepressants drugs, which has been noted in the literature. A brief discussion of alternatives for decreasing inflammation, some of which have demonstrated efficacy in ameliorating depression, is presented.

Keywords: major depression, inflammation, antidepressants efficacy, antidepressants, neurogenesis and inflammation

Citation: Littrell JL (2012) Taking the perspective that a depressive state reflects inflammation: implications for the use of antidepressants. Front. Psychology 3:297. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00297

Received: 01 June 2012; Accepted: 30 July 2012;
Published online: 17 August 2012.

Edited by:

Gian Mauro Manzoni, Istituto Auxologico Italiano IRCCS, Italy

Reviewed by:

Gianluca Castelnuovo, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italy
Brandon Abbs, Partners Healthcare, USA
Francisco Aboitiz, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, Chile

Copyright: © 2012 Littrell. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: Jill Leslie Littrell, Georgia State University, P.O. Box 3995, Atlanta, GA 30302, USA. e-mail:

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