Martha Stark, MD
- Provide an explanation for why acute stress can “provoke” growth but chronic stress will “promote” disease
- Elaborate upon the relationship between endocrine and immune dysregulation on the one hand and depression on the other
- Describe a novel treatment approach for hard-to-treat depression
Synopsis: Researchers have found that there is an association between chronic stress and chronic inflammation and that particularly at risk for the development of depression will be those (1) who have developed a hypersensitivity to stress by virtue of early-life adversities and other sensitizing stressors and (2) for whom their mind is the target organ. I will be proposing a unified interdisciplinary theory of depression – one that conceives of depression as a stress-induced dysregulated state of mind usually accompanied, at least secondarily, by stress-induced dysregulation in all the body’s regulatory systems. More specifically, my integrative theory takes into consideration a multitude of factors, including psychosocial stressors, irreversible genetic factors, reversible epigenetic factors, a dysregulated nervous system, a dysregulated endocrine system, and a dysregulated immune system. Recognizing the association between chronic inflammation and depression offers new opportunities for the treatment of depression by specifically targeting the inflammation – with natural (neuroprotective) anti-inflammatory agents.