Is depression an inflammatory disorder?

Charles L. Raison, Andrew H. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

424 Scopus citations


Studies consistently report that groups of individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD) demonstrate increased levels of a variety of peripheral inflammatory biomarkers when compared with groups of nondepressed individuals. These findings are often interpreted as meaning that MDD, even in medically healthy individuals, may be an inflammatory condition. In this article, we examine evidence for and against this idea by looking more closely into what the actual patterns of inflammatory findings indicate in terms of the relationship between MDD and the immune system. Data are presented in support of the idea that inflammation only contributes to depression in a subset of patients versus the possibility that the depressogenic effect of inflammatory activation is more widespread and varies depending on the degree of vulnerability any given individual evinces in interconnected physiologic systems known to be implicated in the etiology of MDD. Finally, the treatment implications of these various possibilities are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)467-475
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent psychiatry reports
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2011


  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Cytokines
  • Fatigue
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Immune
  • Inflammation
  • Interleukin-6
  • Kynurenine
  • Major depression
  • P38 mitogen-activated kinase
  • Psychosocial stress
  • Quinolinic acid
  • Tryptophan
  • Tumor necrosis factor-α

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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