Can a virus cause depression?

Thanks to my daughter and her cousin, who took it upon themselves to set up appointments for their loved ones, I have been fully immunized against COVID-19. I can’t say I had the kick ass response to Pfizer-dose-two that some have had. I haven’t had a fever or chills or fatigue. It’s been more of a slow burn. I feel as if I’ve been day drinking and the euphoria has worn off. My reaction has been lackadaisical.

Since I’m sitting here with an unusually lazy psychology, I got to wondering: can a virus cause depression? The answer is yes.

Numerous viral diseases have been associated with depression. The list is a long one but some known culprits are H1N1 and other influenzas, AIDS, polio, herpes, and hepatitis C. Chicken pox can lead to a long term inflammation of the area of the brain responsible for spinal sensations. It can also cause depression. The COVID-19 virus can reach the brain and has been linked with numerous mental disorders, including depression, anxiety, and even ADHD.

Additionally, your immune response can cause depressive symptoms. “Illnesses like the flu or the common cold can closely mimic and cause depressive symptoms by activating your immune response and inflammation in your body“.

Cytokines are small peptides, chains of amino-acids, that direct your immune response.

They can fight arthritis and cancer.

They initiate wound repair.

They even influence your sleep patterns.

Cytokines and brain inflammation have been linked with depression for at least ten years.

Our immune, neurologic, and psychological systems are closely intertwined. When there is a foreign invader in your body, like the influenza virus, your cells produce proinflammatory cytokines, non-antibody proteins that activate and organize your body’s immune response”

An immune response known as the cytokine storm can result in a harmful over-reaction which may cause, among other things kidney and liver failure, pneumonia, seizures, confusion, and a rash. (Click here for a diagram of all of the associated problems).Most COVID deaths were caused by the cytokine storm reaction.

Some research says that too much sugar and/or stress or a zinc deficiency will cause an over abundance of harmful cytokines. Exercise can help regulate their over production. The COVID pandemic has highlighted the need to explore this further.

One thing professionals predict is that, infected or not, we will all suffer a mass trauma. Those who had to work risky jobs through the pandemic, those who lost loved ones, the lonely, the incarcerated, and those who lost livelihood will all be affected. One by-product to avoid is seeking authoritarian rulers! Yes, trauma of any kind can cause people to seek out authoritarians or become authoritarian themselves. Let’s not go there. it will only make things worse. One solution is to remember the past year, perhaps with a national day of no-work, and to allow ourselves time to recover.

from the Detroit Institute of Arts (Diego Rivera)

A mean boss or authoritarian ruler will just make your cytokines over produce!

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