Psychologists often say that depression is not just an attack of bad temper, but a serious condition that needs to be taken seriously. However, a recent study conducted by the scientists from the USA showed that this condition had a positive side: it helped the body to fight infections.
The researchers from the American University of Arizona and Emory University, Georgia, believe that depression appeared during the evolution of the human body as a kind of “helper” to fight infectious diseases. The scientists made up their mind that this kind of mental disorder might actually be useful to humans when they studied the statistics of cases of depression in the United States.
It was proved that one out of ten American adults suffered from this disease. The scientists suggested that perhaps it was not accidentally that depression was “so deeply cut into the human brain”. Psychiatrists believe that the disease arose as a response of the organism to the infectious diseases, that periodically attack it. Indeed, they question what you should do if you get sick with flu. Not to leave the house, to rest more and move less.
The man, who is overcome by depression, begins to follow these rules automatically. He does not want to see anyone, becomes lethargic and loses appetite. Such behavior is very useful in order to combat infectious diseases: the body directs all its resources to withstand the disease rather than waste energy on some outside activity. In addition, being overcome by sad thoughts, we communicate less with others, eliminating the possibility of infecting someone else or catching a new infection.
This “depressing medication” was especially true many years ago, when not everyone could access essential medicines. The person would often save himself/herself and the closest people, changing the behavioral model under the influence of depression. The scientists also write that insomnia, which is often accompanied by depression, can be explained from the “natural” point of view, just as many infectious diseases.
Being prone to illnesses, a person becomes more vulnerable to predators than usual. American psychiatrists write that to avoid people’s becoming an easy target for wild animals, evolution has granted depression and infectious diseases with a kind of a side effect – staying awake. The researchers agree that the relationship between depression and infectious diseases still has to be explored in detail. However, if their assumptions are true, mental illnesses will be treated with the help of the same means as infectious diseases.