The world’s obsession with cleanliness was identified as a reason for the increasing rate of depression, according to scientists. Scientists have blamed our sterile environment for increases in allergies and asthma, as a few of the bacteria necessary for strengthening the immune system are routinely cleared away, leading to our bodies over-reacting to pollen and dust, leading to an allergy.
Recent research has gone one step farther; claiming this physiological over-reaction can also impair the brains capacity to produce certain chemicals responsible for good mental health, including serotonin, resulting in depression. The study is backed up by the fact that rates of depression are much greater in the western world in comparison to poorer states as westerner’s immune systems are trained to take care of bacteria.
Researchers in Atlanta, Georgia have tested this concept by recruiting a group of 27 patients taking medication to deal with Hepatitus C, which induces a similar over reaction in the body. Researchers believe certain reactions interrupts the brain’s ability to produce compounds responsible for psychological wellbeing – including the so called ‘happy hormone’, serotonin.
The researchers, whose study was published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, are now analyzing whether anti inflammatory drugs could be used as a treatment for depression. But this method clashes with a different research project conducted by Rockefeller University, New York. This distinct research indicates anti inflammatory painkillers like aspirin and Ibuprofen, in addition to other painkillers like paracetamol, could prevent anti depressants like Prozac from functioning properly.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or SSRI’s are prescribed to millions each year, a lot of whom complain that these pills aren’t effective. Rockefeller scientists believe they now know why. The researchers said it wasn’t clear why the pills had this impact, but cautioned their findings might have’profound consequences’ for patients. The US study team gave anti depressants to mice with melancholy and monitored for behavior changes. Half the sample of mice were given painkillers. Their tests revealed that SSRI’s worked less well when the painkiller was in the animals’ system. The same team found a similar effect in people, after analyzing medical records. They report that anti depressants were successful in less than 40% of cases involving patients taking aspirin-like painkillers, compared to 54 percent for others.