Depression is a condition which affects the body as well as the mind, a new study has suggested.
An international team of researchers has found that the illness causes an imbalance in how the body attacks harmful molecules.
The disorder causes a change of the oxidative stress, which is an imbalance in the production of free radicals and the body’s ability to neutralise them with antioxidants.
Depression should therefore be treated as a disease which impacts a person’s physical and mental health, the study found.
To investigate how depression changes the body, researchers lead by a team at the University of Granada in Spain carried out a meta-analysis of 29 previous studies involving 3,961 people.
The evidence published in the 'Journal of Clinical Psychiatry’ suggested that patients with depression who underwent treatment saw imbalances in oxidative stress parameters restored, and saw a reduction in antioxidant substances in their blood reach normal levels.
Mental Health Awareness: Facts and figures
Mental Health Awareness: Facts and figures
1/10 Mental Health Foundation: Living With Anxiety report
30 per cent of people deal with anxiety by talking to a friend or relative, or by going for a walk.
2/10 Mental Health Foundation: Living With Anxiety report
Almost one in five people feel anxious all or a lot of the time.
3/10 Mental Health Foundation: Living With Anxiety report
22 per cent of women feel anxious a lot or all of the time, compared to 15 per cent of men.
Roman Levin/Flickr Creative Commons
4/10 Mental Health Foundation: Living With Anxiety report
45 per cent of people who feel anxious in everyday life cite financial issues as their biggest cause of worry.
5/10 Mental Health Foundation: Living With Anxiety report
And 26 per cent of people who feel anxious say fearing for the welfare of their children and loved ones leaves them burdened with worry.
And 26 per cent of people say fearing for the welfare of their children and loved ones leaves them burdened with anxiety.
6/10 Mental Health Foundation: Living With Anxiety report
27 per cent of people who suffer from anxiety say work issues, such as long hours, are the source of the problem.
7/10 Mental Health Foundation: Living With Anxiety report
But 16 per cent use alcohol to cope, while 10 per cent turn to cigarettes in the face of anxiety. Unemployed people are more likely to resort to these harmful strategies: 27 per cent use alcohol and 23 per cent use cigarettes.
8/10 Mental Health Foundation: Living With Anxiety report
Only seven per cent of people who say they suffer from anxiety seek help from their GP.
9/10 Mental Health Foundation: Living With Anxiety report
People are thought to be more anxious than they were five years ago.
Alessandra/Flickr Creative Commons
10/10 Mental Health Foundation: Living With Anxiety report
The stresses of modern life are thought to have created "The Age of Anxiety".
Brian Dow, Director of External Affairs, of the charity Rethink Mental Illness said the study could be a “crucial building block” in understanding the link between physical and mental health.
“It has always been apparent that physical and mental health are closely related, if you have a chronic physical health condition your mental health can suffer. Similarly, if you have a mental illness often your physical health can be at risk. At present people with severe mental illness are dying 20 years earlier than the general population.
“Yet too often our health system often treats these totally separately. As our understanding of the science improves so too should our services. One cannot be separated from the other, physical and mental health services should be working together to ensure people receive all the treatment and support they need.”
Antonis Kousoulis, the Mental Health Foundation’s Assistant Director for Development Programmes, said: “Whilst several studies have established a link between oxidative stress and mental health problems, the causal relationship has not yet been fully determined. This is why metaanalyses, like the paper published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, are important sources of evidence.
"We haven’t fully explained the relationship between depression and physical conditions like cancer, even though we know that up to 1 in 4 people with cancer have clinical depression. Interconnected system imbalances, such as the one that emerges in the results of this research, could go a long way towards explaining some of these associations".