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Impacts of Depression on the Immune System


Healthcare providers advise people on the relationship between depression and the immune system. Various studies indicate that suffering from a particular illness can trigger the development of other diseases. In that light, investigating the prevalence of infections among people living with depression can enable scientists to determine the exact link between the two conditions. It is important to understand how depression contributes to the poor performance of the immune system to formulate suitable remedies for improving people’s health status. Also, research on the impact of depression and the immune system will be a reference for future studies.


Current research suggests that most patients with depression are more vulnerable to suffering from various health complications not common to other people. The close relationship between depression and the immune system explains the high prevalence of infections among people suffering from chronic stress. Various scholars argue that since depression triggers a behavior change, depressed people are more likely to engage in activities that weaken their immune system. Also, some of the triggers of depression are directly involved in developing various infections. The relationship between depression and the immune system presents the need for scientists to study the factors contributing to immune system dysfunction among patients with depression. A proper understanding of how depression affects an individual’s ability to resist infections and recover after an illness can provide insights into formulating and implementing prevention and treatment remedies.


This study relied on secondary sources to get information about the relationship between depression and the immune system. Databases from healthcare providers with a history of dealing with patients with depression were among the main sources of the required information. Reliable databases included the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (JWJF), the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In addition to databases, this research used key terms such as depression, mental illness, immune system, depression patients, and immune system dysfunction to search for peer-reviewed journals. Since the study’s topic involves various fields, it was essential to focus on sources that covered depression to exclude other mental illnesses such as bipolar, schizophrenia, and autism, among others. Also, this study concentrated on sources published less than five years to ensure that the information collected was recent and updated.


Data from the identified sources showed that most patients with depression suffered from other illnesses unrelated to stress or mental issues. Particularly, people with depression are reported to have health complications affecting the reproductive, digestive, and cardiovascular systems. In addition to suffering from various infections, information from the selected sources indicated that depression patients contracted new infections more frequently than the control population. For example, Takahashi et al. (2018) illustrated that people with depression were more likely to contract the common cold during cold seasons than others. Lastly, most sources supported the trend among patients with depression to take more time than expected to recover from a particular illness. Generally, the sources used in this study support the close relationship between depression and the immune system.


According to the study’s findings, it is evident that there exists a link between depression and the functioning of the immune system. Although this research fails to identify the fine details of how depression impacts the capacity of the immune system to defend and handle infections, it supports the direct and indirect link between the two. Information from mental health providers’ databases argued that people with depression are more likely to engage in behaviors capable of weakening their immune system. For example, Leonard and Myint (2022) assert that patients with depression may experience loss of appetite, change in sleeping patterns, and lack of interest in activities they found worthy of before getting sick. Therefore, due to poor diet and lack of exercise, people with depression are more vulnerable to lifestyle diseases, thus burdening and risking the immune system to dysfunction. Also, according to Kiecolt-Glaser (2018), since depression negatively affects the ability of the brain to coordinate and function properly, various systems, including the immune system, may be compromised.


The sources used in this research conclude that depression results in a decline in the functioning of the immune system. The inability of the brain to coordinate its activities among patients with depression interrupts the activities of the immune system. Also, depressed people engage in unhealthy behaviors such as poor diet, lack of exercise, abnormal sleeping patterns, and poor lifestyle choices, which, as a result, overwork their immune system. Furthermore, unlike mentally stable people, patients with depression are less concerned with their health and wellbeing and remain unaware of the factors that strengthen or weaken the immune system. This study recommends further research on approaches to prevent and treat depression due to its adverse impacts on the immune system.


Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K. (2018). Marriage, divorce, and the immune system. American Psychologist73(9), 1098.

Leonard, B. E., & Myint, A. (2022). Changes in the immune system in depression and dementia: causal or coincidental effects?. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience.

Takahashi, A., Flanigan, M. E., McEwen, B. S., & Russo, S. J. (2018). Aggression, social stress, and the immune system in humans and animal models. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience12, 56.


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