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Virtually every health ailment ranging from acne to digestive problems and even cognitive decline and cancer is linked to inflammation, AKA the most feared word in wellness. And now, a new study shows it also plays a role with the big D: depression.

Apparently, scientists have seen evidence of this tie for decades, but they haven’t been able to figure out exactly how it played out until recently. According to Fortune, when researchers in Japan studied how mice reacted to stress (in a study published in Neuron), they saw that it triggers the release of cytokines, which is a marker for inflammation. Spoiler alert: Those little mice got majorly depressed. The researchers observed “the atrophy and impaired response of neurons in the medial prefrontal cortex [part of the brain’s executive control center], causing depressive behavior.”

Basically what this shows is that when your immune system is down, it can lead to inflammation and feeling depressed. It’s not surprising, right? After all, people who are depressed tend to get sick more often than those who aren’t.

While this news may sound a bit, well, depressing, pinpointing the link is actually beneficial because it could lead to new ways to formulate effective antidepressant medicines. And a lead for better treatments is definitely some happy news.

Here’s how to know if you have high-functioning depression. And this is how depression affects the body differently than anxiety.

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