When we are injured physically or psychologically, our immune system first inflames our cells, tissues, blood vessels, even nerves, to increase blood flow to fight disease and repair injury. Then, as a second immune step, the brain interprets inflammation as a trigger to make us feel really grim about life, so all we want to do is crawl into a cave and rest until we heal, thus helping us survive.
Exciting new finding in neuroscience linking depression with your immune system
Studies show any injury or disease can cause inflammation and trigger depression, from life-threatening trauma to a simple vaccine injection. So a great way to treat depression is to reduce inflammation. I think stress and anxiety are closely linked because inflammation can also trigger fear – another immune system response that, instead of or in addition to switching on depression, switches on the fight or flight response that can escalate into chronic stress and anxiety.
So inflammation can make you depressed, anxious and stressed all at the same time. Makes sense in evolutionary terms:
- First, danger scares you, triggering fear and anxiety
- Then, fear and anxiety trigger your fight or flight response to make you defend against, or run away from, danger
- After the danger passes, your brain triggers depression to make you rest, recover and heal.
All pretty straightforward until stress becomes chronic, tangles this sequence up, and stops you from completing step 3, so you never quite heal. If you get stuck in chronic stress, your brain gets stuck in a vicious cycle that keeps you endlessly looping between danger, fear, fight or flight, anxiety and depression.
This endless loop of chronic stress keeps your mind and body inflamed, increasing cytokines and hyper-activating your amygdala and other neuro-chemicals and brain areas associated with fear and inflammation. The constant bombardment of chronic inflammation on your nervous system causes free-floating anxiety and depression which seem impossible to pin on any one event, so feeling “messed up” becomes a new normal in which people give up hope, unable to see light at the end of the tunnel.
Bottom-line: break the endless loop of chronic stress, anxiety and depression with a holistic mind-body menu of good inflammation-reducing tools: relaxation, supplements, sleep, exercise, meditation, red light. By stopping inflammation, your mind and body can complete the cycle of natural healing, tell your immune system to back off, and help you naturally return to top physical and mental health.
At Brainigo, we help you dial down your default speed, so no matter how crazy life gets, you can switch off and bliss out whenever you want. A slower mind and body helps you boost health and energy, and beat stress and anxiety naturally. Click here to read more about how we help you alter your response to stress!