The arrival and spread of COVID-19 throughout the globe has shown just how important it is to have a healthy immune system. A strong immune response is especially crucial for people with depression because long-term stress and depression have been shown to seriously impact the immune system over time.
The crazy thing about depression is that it doesn't just weaken the immune system, it can also overactivate it! While a weakened immune system can make it easier for you to get sick, an overactive immune response can lead to widespread inflammation and chronic disease - both of which can wreak havoc on your mental and physical health.
Here’s what you need to know about how depression impacts our immune system (and what to do about it!)
Depression is linked with a decrease in your immune cells
According to this study, depressive symptoms and related stress are linked to increased levels of a hormone called CRH (corticotrophin-releasing hormone). Increased CRH causes a decrease in certain types of white blood cells, which are important in fighting off outside invaders like bacteria and viruses.
The bottom line: Fewer white blood cells = decreased ability to fight off infections = you get sick, easier!
Depression is linked with immune system over-activation and inflammation
New evidence suggests that depression is an inflammatory disease. But what does this actually mean?
Simply put, inflammation occurs when your immune system attacks things it thinks are trying to harm the body. The immune system sends a signal to create inflammation, which brings extra nutrients, blood flow, and white blood cells in an effort to heal the area. A visible example of healing inflammation is an ankle sprain - you injure yourself > your body sends blood, nutrients, and healing cells to the ankle > your ankle swells up and gets hot to protect and heal the damaged tissue.
Inflammation becomes a problem when there is too much inflammation for too long. The inflammation starts to spread to healthy tissues throughout the body, which can lead to disease down the road.
This is exactly what happens with long-term depression. We’re now learning that depression is linked with long-term, low level inflammation. This kind of inflammation over time can be harmful for the body and result in chronic conditions like heart disease, autoimmune disorders, and cancer.
So, the million dollar question: what can you do TODAY to boost your immune system and keep you healthy?
Since depression is linked to a weaker immune system, it’s important you do everything possible to keep it strong. Fortunately, the best ways to boost your immune system are also the best ways to boost your mood and keep your depression at bay!
Here are my must-do tips for a strong immune system:
Your immune system is the #1 defense you have against fighting disease. Depression may weaken the immune system, but you have the power to fight back! Need a little support? Book a Discovery Call with me today and find out how we can hack your health and wellness so you can feel like yourself again!