The Inflamed Mind | Edward Bullmore

Summary of: The Inflamed Mind: A Radical New Approach to Depression
By: Edward Bullmore

Final Recap

The Inflamed Mind by Edward Bullmore presents a groundbreaking theory on the connection between inflammation and depression. We learn that the immune system’s inflammation response may in fact play a role in chronic depression, shedding light on the need for a more holistic approach to mental health treatments. While existing treatment options for inflammatory depression are limited, the understanding of the connection between the immune system, inflammation and mental health reveals promising avenues for future treatments. Ultimately, this new perspective on the mind-body connection could lead to more tailored and effective treatments for depression, as it emphasizes the importance of personalizing and considering holistic approaches to mental health care.


Imagine experiencing a bad cold and feeling inexplicably sad, lethargic, and antisocial. Many scientists now believe that the immune system’s response to sickness, inflammation, could be a key factor in understanding depression. The book summary of ‘The Inflamed Mind’ by Edward Bullmore explores the radical new hypothesis that links inflammation with depression, presenting a powerful anecdote about a drug for rheumatoid arthritis and its impact on mood. This summary investigates how inflammation works, the relationship between mental and physical health, antidepressant drugs, the connection between the immune system and depression, and the evolution of this process. By understanding the role of inflammation in depression, the possibility for new treatment approaches for chronic depression emerges.

Inflammation and Depression

When our immune system produces inflammation of widespread bodily, as a response to illness, it can also make us feel gloomy and depressed. This could imply that long-term or prolonged inflammation in our body could be the cause of depression. Studies have shown that when Rheumatoid arthritis patients are treated with Remicade, a drug that reduces inflammation, it not only relieves joint pain but also makes them feel instantly happy and happy. This indicates that reducing inflammation can boost people’s moods, and too much inflammation can lead to depression.

The Mighty Immune System

Our immune system is in a constant battle against harmful antigens. It is made up of various components, with white blood cells being the most important soldiers. Macrophages, a type of white blood cell, are stationed throughout the body and are responsible for identifying and destroying dangerous particles. They then share this information with other cells, allowing for a coordinated immune response. While inflammation can be beneficial in the short term, chronic inflammation can lead to damage and dysfunction.

The Roots of Mind-Body Dualism in Medicine

The book explores the history of mind-body dualism in medicine. The author examines how René Descartes, a philosopher and mathematician from the seventeenth century, divided humans into two distinct parts: the body and the soul. Medicine, at that time, focused only on the body while ignoring the mind and emotions. The father of modern psychology, Sigmund Freud, wanted to study the mind and brain in a holistic way, but his antidualist idea was opposed. Thus, the discipline of psychoanalysis began to target the mind as a separate entity. In the twentieth century, scientists began to expose the connections between the mind and brain, but still tended to treat the head as if it was detached from the rest of the body.

Accidental Discoveries in Antidepressants

The creation of antidepressant drugs was unintentional. The molecule iproniazid, taken from rocket fuel used by Germans during World War II, was tested in 1952 for its ability to kill deadly TB bacteria. Not only was it successful, but it also boosted certain neurotransmitters, which scientists believed helped produce an antidepressant effect on the patients. US pharma company Eli Lilly developed a new class of antidepressants to boost levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), with Prozac being the most prominent brand. While some people find SSRIs to be effective, the theory that depression is caused by an imbalance in neurotransmitters is not proven. As a result, there have been no major advances in developing drugs for depression in the past 30 years, as the right target has yet to be found.

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