The Bidirectional Relationship of Depression and Inflammation: Double Trouble

Neuron. 2020 Jul 22;107(2):234-256. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2020.06.002. Epub 2020 Jun 17.


Depression represents the number one cause of disability worldwide and is often fatal. Inflammatory processes have been implicated in the pathophysiology of depression. It is now well established that dysregulation of both the innate and adaptive immune systems occur in depressed patients and hinder favorable prognosis, including antidepressant responses. In this review, we describe how the immune system regulates mood and the potential causes of the dysregulated inflammatory responses in depressed patients. However, the proportion of never-treated major depressive disorder (MDD) patients who exhibit inflammation remains to be clarified, as the heterogeneity in inflammation findings may stem in part from examining MDD patients with varied interventions. Inflammation is likely a critical disease modifier, promoting susceptibility to depression. Controlling inflammation might provide an overall therapeutic benefit, regardless of whether it is secondary to early life trauma, a more acute stress response, microbiome alterations, a genetic diathesis, or a combination of these and other factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Affect
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Depression / immunology
  • Depression / physiopathology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / immunology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / physiopathology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiopathology
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / physiopathology*
  • Inflammation / psychology


  • Antidepressive Agents