The World Health Organization (WHO) has named depression a leading cause of disease burden worldwide. This is partly because of the cognitive and affective symptoms of depression that can severely impair functioning, such as fatigue and suicidal thoughts. However, depression is also associated with increased risk for a variety of serious medical conditions, including asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic pain, cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and neurodegenerative disorders.
Recently, lab director Dr. George Slavich and colleagues have pioneered new ways of understanding why depression is associated with physical health problems by focusing on the immune system. Specifically, they have examined how stress causes increases in inflammation and how inflammation in turn increases risk for poor health.
This body of work was recently the focus of a new one-hour documentary on Arte TV, called “New Hope for Depression.” Enjoy it here!
Dr. Slavich is an associate professor and Society in Science – Branco Weiss Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA, and a Research Scientist at the UCLA Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology, where he directs the Laboratory for Stress Assessment and Research.