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How stress can lead to depression

Written by Editorial Team |Updated : October 22, 2014 4:35 PM IST

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) suggested that inflammation caused due to stress may increase the risk of depression. The study, carried out at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, revealed that pre-existing differences between sensitivities of a key part of immune systems in individuals confer a greater risk of developing stress-related depression or anxiety.

The study measured the cytokine IL-6 in non-aggressive mice before and after repeated social stress invoked by an aggressive mouse. They found that IL-6 levels were higher in mice that were more susceptible to stress than in 'stress-resilient' mice. They also found the levels of leukocytes (white blood cells that release IL-6) were higher in stress susceptible mice before stress exposure. The researchers then validated the increased levels of IL-6 in two separate groups of human patients diagnosed with treatment-resistant Major Depressive Disorder. (Read: Stressed out? Try these yoga poses)

Lead author Georgia Hodes, PhD, Postdoctoral Researcher in Neuroscience, said that their data suggested that pre-existing individual differences in the peripheral immune system predicted and promoted stress susceptibility. Hodes added that they found that when mice were given bone marrow transplants of stem cells that produce leukocytes lacking IL-6 or when injected with antibodies that block IL-6 prior to stress exposure, the development of social avoidance was reduced compared with their respective control groups, demonstrating that the emotional response to stress can be generated or blocked in the periphery. (Read: 20 expert tips to beat stress)

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The new study provides experimental evidence that the emotional response to stress can be generated or blocked in the periphery, offering the potential for new forms of treatment for stress disorders and may eventually inform therapeutic strategies to reengineer a patient's immune system to reduce stress vulnerability. (Read: 5 facts you didn t know about depression)

Here are expert tips to reduce stress and keep your heart healthy

Decide to change your lifestyle: Somewhere down the line, we all know we need to change our lifestyle but we don t act upon that thought. Think about what changes you need to make and target them one by one. Changing your lifestyle in a positive way can help you cope up with the expectations of people around you.

Eat a balanced diet: Good nutrition is a powerful weapon to deal with stress. Your nutrition requirement shoot up when you re under stressful situation. Your body needs extra B vitamins, vitamin C and zinc for building resistance against infections. Eat a balanced diet, with adequate amount of complex carbohydrates that keep you energised for a long time and prevent mindless eating along with proteins and healthy fats. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables to meet your nutritional requirement.

Exercise regularly: Physical activity releases stress-busting hormones that induces a feeling of relaxation and keeps you happy. Even 30 minutes of daily exercise will be sufficient for reducing stress. It will also reduce cholesterol and increase your heart rate, improving heart function. Read more about Expert tips to reduce stress and keep your heart healthy

With inputs from ANI

Photo source: Getty images

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