Have you ever noticed how your mood can be affected by what you eat at certain times? The phrase “hangry” comes to mind, a combination of being hungry and angry. Lacking certain nutrients or not eating for a period of time can certainly do a number on our emotions; irritability, depression and fatigue can become a byproduct. By the same token, researchers have discovered that there is a distinct connection between the human immune system and psychiatric disorders.
These new findings are suggesting that the role of the brain and the overall immune system can make a significant difference in whether or not someone will suffer from certain types of mental health challenges or issues. Researchers at the University of Virginia in 2015 found that the central nervous system actually had a lymphatic drainage system; up until that point, medical experts did not believe that the brain had such a function.
“There is growing evidence, such as the Nature paper, that there is more normal trafficking between the immune system in the brain and that in the body than previously recognized,” stated Georgia Hodes,PhD, a research track assistant professor in the department of neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. So what exactly does this mean? It essentially is stating that the brain and the immune system communicate, and they “talk” to each other using pathways specifically for that. Researches had found that inflammatory cytokines that are generally released during standard illnesses were also found to be inflamed in patients with major depressive disorders.
A well-functioning immune system is likely to help suppress the growth of various mental health issues, which makes it critical to understand the link between the mind and the body.
As we move forward into the future, we will undoubtedly continue to unravel more of how and why our body and mind interact like they do. It is an exciting time to be alive when it comes to the knowledge that we are gaining in the fields of mental health.