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Depression may not only make us feel bad but also prevent us from enjoying the healthy benefits of some of the things we do, like exercise.
Researchers have found that depression may inhibit the anti-inflammatory effects typically associated with physical activity and light-to-moderate alcohol consumption. This means there is another potential health consequence of depression.
“Our findings suggest depression not only directly affects an individual’s mental and physical health; it might also diminish the health benefit of physical activities and moderate alcohol consumption,” explained lead author Edward C. Suarez, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke Medicine. “This appears to be specific to inflammation, which we know increases the risk for heart disease, so our findings suggest that depression could be a complicating risk factor.”
The findings were based on measurements of the cardio-metabolic risk marker C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP is a biomarker that predicts future risk of heart disease and other chronic inflammatory disease.
Physical activity and moderate alcohol consumption have been shown to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, depression is associated with elevated CRP and thus an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
During this study, researchers found that people who were physically active generally had lower CRP levels, with the exception of those who were depressed - they had no beneficial effect on CRP levels. Also, only men who were not depressed achieved the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption.
“We’re not saying that exercises isn’t helpful for those with depression; what we saw is that depression has effects beyond what has previously been reported,” Suarez explained. “Even if mental health improves, the anti-inflammatory benefits of physical activities may lag behind.”
Source: Brain, Behavior, and Immunity; MedicalNewsToday
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