I’ve dealt with depression in my life. My body temperature also seems to run hot; in fact my wife Kate has nicknamed me “the baked potato.”

My guest today says that there may be a connection between those two things. His name is Charles Raison, he’s a psychiatrist, professor of psychiatry, and the co-author of The New Mind-Body Science of Depression. We begin our conversation with why Charles thinks it’s important to ask the question, “Does Major Depression even exist?” and what we do and don’t know about what causes depression. We then turn to the emerging theory that physical inflammation may play a role in depression; Charles describes what inflammation is, and why the body may become inflamed and physically hotter not only in response to physical illness, but psychological stress as well. We then discuss the paradoxical finding that short-term exposure to inflammation in the form of exercise or sitting in a sauna can reduce long-term inflammation, and how hot you probably have to get in a sauna for it to have antidepressant effects. We also talk about how intermittent fasting may have a beneficial effect on inflammation, before turning to whether taking anti-inflammatory drugs could also help, and why you might want to get a blood test to see if your body’s inflamed. We end our conversation with Charles’ thoughts on how to figure out the right treatment for depression for each individual. 

If reading this in an email, click the title of the post to listen to the show. 

Show Highlights

  • Does major depression even exist? Why is this an important question to ask?
  • Does depression have the same biomarkers among all people?
  • What causes depression? What role do genes play? Environment? Bacteria?
  • The power of relationships 
  • The mind-body connection of depression
  • What is inflammation? How could it be causing depression? What is its effect on the brain?
  • How could this explain the origins of depression? 
  • The role of stress in inflammation 
  • What about exercise? Doesn’t that cause inflammation? 
  • Does intermittent fasting work as a depression treatment?
  • What are some ancient practices for depression that might work today? 
  • So do anti-inflammatory medications work for depression?
  • An overview of anti-depressant medications and new ideas about them 
  • With the complex nature of what causes depression, how should one go about treating it then?

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The post Podcast #585: Inflammation, Saunas, and the New Science of Depression appeared first on The Art of Manliness.

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