Lead researcher, Lynanne McGuire, Ph.D., of John Hopkins School of Medicine and co-authors Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser, Ph.D., and Ronald Glaser, Ph.D., of Ohio State University College of Medicine found that even chronic, sub-clinical mild depression may suppress an older persons immune system. Those with chronic mild depression had poorer lymphocyte -T cell responses to 2 mitogens at the follow up 18 months later. And the older a person was, the poorer the immune response was to mitogens a model for how the body responds to outside agents, like viruses and bacteria.
Reported on in this months Journal of Abnormal Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association (APA) is an 18-month prospective study of 78 older adults (average age of 72.5 years old) that compared those who suffer from chronic depression (22) and those who dont (56) on their ability to generate enough white blood cells to fight off an infectious agent. Participants were part of a larger, longitudinal study on stress and health of caregivers of adults with dementia. Forty of the participants were caregiving for spouses with dementia. And 38 of the participants were not caregivers and recruited from newspaper advertisements, church groups and other local neighborhood referrals. The non-depressed group included 25 caregivers and 31 non-caregivers and the depressed group included 15 caregivers and seven non-caregivers. Females accounted for 64 percent in both the depressed and non-depressed group.
There was no significant difference found for risk of depression between those who were married, those with more education or those at a higher income level. All the depressed participants reported clinically relevant depr
Contact: Pam Willenz
American Psychological Association