In order to understand how Curcumin helps with depression, we first need to understand depression. Depression can be described as having components which are interlinked. Firstly depression can be measured in terms of an affective component which relates to emotions. Emotions such as sadness and low mood are emotions that can effect us all from time to time. However, when these emotions become every day or most days , then these emotions can be a sign of depression. These negative emotions in regard to depression can include feelings of guilt, irritability and frustration. The affective or emotional component of depression can cause low self esteem or worsen existing low self esteem which can lead the sufferer to experience feelings of being overwhelmed, feeling indecisive and and at times numb.
In the behavioural aspect of depression, the sufferer may start to withdraw from company and stop socialising. This may also lead to an increase in apathy and procrastination with the individual deriving less pleasure from previously pleasurable experiences. Within this behavioral aspect of depression the person may start having trouble sleeping or may start sleeping all the time. Fatigue, headaches, migraine headaches, digestion problems, appetite and weight changes as well as changes in libido are all symptoms of depression.
Along with all these symptoms come the cognitive signs of depression, distinct from emotions, these are the thoughts running through the individuals mind. Not seeing the positives and only seeing the negatives. The individual may also start catastrophising. Negative self talk, I am a failure, I always mess things up. what is the point? why bother? This negative self talk may lead to thoughts of suicide and unfortunately sometimes the successful completion of the act itself.
How does Curcumin help with depression?
In 2015 scientists discovered that clinical depression was associated with a 30% increase of inflammation in the brain. This was according to a study published in the prestigious JAMA Psychiatry (a peer-reviewed medical journal published by the American Medical Association). And what is good for inflammation in the human body? Curcumin!
Curcumin has also been shown to promote the generation of new brain cells which is known as neurogenesis. The opposite of neurogenesis is neurodegeneration and neurodegeneration is commonly seen in individuals with depression. Curcumin has also been shown to have a role in modulating neurotransmitter levels. The three main neurotransmitters involved in depression are serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. The two most well know types of anti depressants monoamine oxidase inhibitors and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors work by inhibiting the action of enzymes that break down any excess neurotransmitter such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Because less is broken down by the enzymes, more of the neurotransmitters become available and it is believed that the increased levels of the particular neurotransmitters in the brain help mitigate against the symptoms of depression. Curcumin has been found to act in a similar way to monoamine oxidase inhibitors and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors but without the unwanted side effects.