Immune activation and depression | ProHealth Fibromyalgia, ME/CFS and Lyme Disease Forums

Immune activation and depression

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Immune activation has been shown to cause depression in people. One good example, of many, is people that get interferon shots for hepatitis c.

Most will experience depression from the immune stimulation of the interferon. Many will not be able to finish there treatment because the depression is so bad. I have serious allergies (over active immune system) and mild depression.

If my depression is a result of inflammation caused by an over active immune system, that would explain why antidepressants, although they do help, don't take away my depression completely.

I have tried over a dozen antidepressants since 1986 and have not found one that works. I am greatful I only have mild depression. Maybe that explains why people get depressed when they are severely stressed. Say by the loss of a spouse or loved one.

Stress in known to cause inflammation, and I would think the worse the stress, the worse the inflammation and and the worse the depression.

Anybody else have depression with there auto- immune problems?

Here is a link to a study done on depression,inflammation,and leaky gut syndrome. Also how leaky gut causes "sickness behavior", which means feeling depressed,fatigued,anxious,unable to concentrate etc. In essence flu-like symptoms.
[This Message was Edited on 02/23/2013]


I have very high natural interferon levels, probably because my immune system is always fighting viruses that are trying to reactivate. For me those are Epstein-Barr, Cytomegalovirus and Parvo. I also have fairly high titers to mycoplasma. I have a genetic condition that causes me to lose phosphorus and when my levels get low for any reason (getting chilled, too much exercise, not enough in diet, low vitamin D, etc) then my lymphocytes become unresponsive and I can literally get sick overnight.

However I don't always see a correlation with the interferon levels and depression. I DO see a correlation with brain swelling and depression. And like you mentioned, that can be related to certain allergic responses and immune reactions.

The first thing that I found that helped was the amino acid L-Histidine. It doesn't take a lot but it really reduces allergic reactions. The other thing that I found that helped was low doses of Benadryl. I have never tolerated even a child's dose...I feel very wired and sleepy at the same time. But if I take a dye-free capsule, puncture a hole in it with a sterilized pin, then put a few drops in water, it has a calming effect without any of the other problems.

Benadryl is one of the best treatments for brain swelling and in small amounts like that it can very gently help with serotonin imbalances. I shared this with a support group last summer and several people tried it. The results were pretty amazing. Even people with MS and ALS were seeing very positive responses. We believe this is because the active ingredient in Benadryl can modulate apoptosis, or cell death. (There are many medical journal articles which describe the action.) It seems to be able to extend the life of a cell when needed, but it can also make rogue cells die when they're supposed to instead of proliferating.

The other anti-histamine that works well in smaller doses is the blue Unisom tablet (not the gel caps) cut in halves or fourths. The active ingredient in that one is doxylamine succinate. That has an effect on serotonin produced by the intestines which is why it is so helpful for morning sickness. I know several people who take it for depression in smaller doses and it is as effective for them as SSRIs.

When I was doing nutritional consulting I often recommended 500 mg of the amino acid L-Tyrosine for depression along with 2mg of copper per day. This can help balance both thyroid function and neurotransmitter production. I found it was especially helpful for people who had depression after chemotherapy.

Most people with chronic pain and inflammation experience depression. And rather than prescribing SSRIs right away, I wish doctors would look more at reducing the brain swelling and allergy load.




Active Member
I actually tried l-histadine for allergies because of another post you made and it helped. I stopped taking it for some reason, probably had something to with brain fog, : ) but I just put it back in my arsenal and will start taking it again today.

I find it very interesting that the symptoms of immune activation, of almost any kind, like when we get the flu or a cold etc. Are almost identical to fm/cfs symptoms. Fatigue, muscle aches , nausea, headache, etc. all from an over activated immune system.

The theory I am going on is that toxins are leaking into my blood stream from a leaky gut. The toxins are causing a th1-th2 imbalance in my immune system. Causing a th-2 dominance, which causes auto immune problems such as allergies, arthritis, asthma etc.

Th-2 dominance in cfs has a large body of work behind it. Th-1 is suppressed because of the th-2 dominance and th-1 is the part of the immune system that keeps latent viruses suppressed. Viruses such as you mentioned, epstein-Barr, cytomegalovirus etc.

I realized my body was overrun with toxins when I started taking 4-6 grams a day of dandelion root. My severe 7-10 day flares where gone in a week and have never returned! That was about a year ago and I haven't had one since. Then it was just a question of "where are the toxins coming from" and leaky gut is my best answer.