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Major depressive disorder (MDD) should be re-conceptualized as an infectious disease, according to Turhan Canli, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology and Radiology at Stony Brook University. In a paper published in Biology of Mood & Anxiety Disorders, Dr.Canli suggests that major depression may result from parasitic, bacterial, or viral infection. He presents examples that illustrate possible pathways by which these microorganisms could contribute to the etiology of MDD.
MDD remains highly prevalent disease with some 15 to 20 percent of the population experiencing MDD at some point. Recurrence is common, and pharmacological treatments have not changed. Because the causal aspects of the disease are not clearly defined, research to find causes remains paramount to help improve treatments.
"Given this track record of MDD, I propose reconceptualizing the condition as some form of infectious disease," said Dr. Canli, who is also Director of Stony Brook's SCAN Center, a member of the Program in Neuroscience, and a Senior Fellow in the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics. "Future research should conduct a concerted effort search of parasites, bacteria, or viruses that may play a causal role in the etiology of MDD."
In the paper, Dr. Canli presents three arguments why reconceptualizing MDD as an infectious disease may be a fruitful endeavor.
First, he points out that patients with MDD exhibit illness behavior such as loss of energy, and that inflammatory biomarkers in MDD also suggest an illness-related origin. Second, he describes evidence that parasites, bacteria and viruses that infect humans in a way that alters their emotional behavior. Thirdly, Dr. Canli brings the notion of the human body as an ecosystem for microorganisms and the role of genetics.
It sounds like science fiction, but it seems that bacteria within us -- which outnumber our own cells about 100-fold -- may very well be affecting both our cravings and moods to get us to eat what they want, and often are driving us toward obesity
a reply to: rickymouse
Parasites and microbial infections can cause depression
tiny organisms carried by house cats may be creeping into our brains, causing everything from car wrecks to schizophrenia?
The parasite, which is excreted by cats in their feces, is called Toxoplasma gondii and is the microbe that causes toxoplasmosis—the reason pregnant women are told to avoid cats’ litter boxes
the “latent” parasite may be quietly tweaking the connections between our neurons, changing our response to frightening situations, our trust in others, how outgoing we are, and even our preference for certain scents. And that’s not all. also the organism contributes to car crashes, suicides, and mental disorders such as schizophrenia.
originally posted by: FyreByrd
a reply to: Sabiduria
It is a field ripe for study.
There is a parasite (tic---something or other) that cats carry. It infects mice and makes them unafraid of cats so that the cats can catch them easier. They infect people too without 'observable' effects but I suspect every cat owner knows that cats rule their world. LOL.
Also - insanity is contagious - just look around here.
The vector of contagion is important to understand.
I tend to think that more people are depressed because - well it's depressing in reality and more people around are depressed.
Another intriging thread. Kudos.