I ran across an article today, and found several others online, that all suggest that depression could be the result of an 'allergic reaction'.

Recent research is showing that depression is an allergic reaction to inflammation. 1

Researchers name a host of possibilities ranging from infections, such as the flu, to diets high in sugar and trans fats, to bullying and loneliness. In my case, the suspect is painfully obvious: carbohydrates composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen … a.k.a the legal white powder that is a hidden ingredient in most of our foods.2

The answer to that seems to be yes, and the best candidate so far is inflammation – a part of the immune system that acts as a burglar alarm to close wounds and call other parts of the immune system into action. A family of proteins called cytokines sets off inflammation in the body, and switches the brain into sickness mode. 3

Other experts go a step further and promote the idea that the inflammatory state underlying depression may be caused by a pathogen such as a parasite, bacterium, or virus.4

This seems far-fetched, but I can find nothing to refute any of these claims. Is depression truly caused by an 'allergic reaction', or 'inflammation'? Or is this a gross oversimplification/plain not true?

  • 1
    Depression seems to have a lot of obvious triggers; for example, death in the family or divorce can cause depression. I'd hope anyone writing on the topic is well aware of this, and that they only mean to suggest that some cases of depression may be caused by physical ailments.
    – Nat
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 9:11
  • Wait, I am not sure I'm reading this correctly. Are they stating that all depressions are due to an allergic reaction or are they saying that an allergic reaction is also trigger? Commented May 11, 2017 at 11:17
  • @Jordy It seems to be a mix of the two. Though the first one specifically cites it as 'the cause' for depression.
    – Zibbobz
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 11:21
  • @Jordy it's clearly a hoax. "carbohydrates composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen... a.k.a. the legal white powder that is a hidden ingredient in most of our foods" clearly means sugar. But it of course any carbohydrate... Which is most anything in your body.
    – jwenting
    Commented May 12, 2017 at 9:57
  • @jwenting There's plenty of anti sugar rhetoric. I don't think there's any hoax here.
    – user11643
    Commented May 13, 2017 at 1:36

1 Answer 1


No, depression is not caused by an allergic reaction, that seems to be made up.

According to the excellent NHS site

There's no single cause of depression. It can occur for a variety of reasons and it has many different triggers.

  • Stressful events
  • Personality
  • Family history
  • Giving birth
  • Loneliness
  • Alcohol and drugs
  • Illness

While it of course might be that we change our understanding of this disease in the future, it's a safe bet that if it isn't on the National Health Service website, but a non-specialist blog, the information is not reliable.

  • 2
    Original claim reminds me of when Bill Maher suggested that maybe the body's immune system might not "like getting tricked" by vaccines, or may get "tired" of having so many different virus strains introduced via vaccine. Using kind of generalized characterizations as if they were literal. Commented May 11, 2017 at 15:13
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    That's only a partial list, but a decent one. It misses certain hormone deficiencies (for example chronic serotonin deficiency, which can cause not just depression but other conditions as well).
    – jwenting
    Commented May 12, 2017 at 10:00
  • 1
    What's up with our standard of quoting academic papers for medical questions? Furthermore your claim isn't even supported by your source. It starts with the source saying that it lists "Some of the potential triggers of depression" instead of it making a claim to list all triggers. An allergy can also be reasonably called a "longstanding illness".
    – Christian
    Commented May 12, 2017 at 17:05
  • @Christian not really, if you go and follow the link, they give examples of "Illness": "You may have a higher risk of depression if you have a longstanding or life-threatening illness, such as coronary heart disease or cancer.". Not allergy.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented May 12, 2017 at 17:28
  • @Sklivvz There's no indication that "coronary heart disease or cancer" is intended to be a comprehensive listing.
    – Christian
    Commented May 12, 2017 at 17:31

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