The study’s authors found that negative mood accumulated during the week closer to the blood draw was linked to higher levels of inflammation in the body. What’s more, the correlation between negative mood and inflammation was stronger closer to the blood draw. Conversely, positive mood was associated with lower levels of inflammation.
Unlike previous research efforts, the present study not only used standard questionnaires that gauge a participant’s feelings but also asked them how they felt in the moment.
It’s only recently that scientists have started to include inflammation in theories of depression, so there’s a lot of ground to cover. It could be that negative mood, such as living through a stressful event in one’s life, triggers biological reactions that lead to inflammation. Interestingly, the most widely used therapies for depression have been shown to reduce inflammation. Often times, these therapies involve lifestyle changes, such as exercise and diet.
“We hope that this research will prompt investigators to include momentary measures of stress and affect in research examining inflammation, to replicate the current findings and help characterize the mechanisms underlying associations between affect and inflammation,” principal investigator Jennifer Graham-Engeland, associate professor of biobehavioral health at Penn State, said in a statement.
“Because affect is modifiable, we are excited about these findings and hope that they will spur additional research to understand the connection between affect and inflammation, which in turn may promote novel psychosocial interventions that promote health broadly and help break a cycle that can lead to chronic inflammation, disability, and disease.”
The findings appeared in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.