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Antibiotic (doxycycline) treatment for depression

Posted by SLS on January 7, 2009, at 7:46:40


It might sound weird at first, but some of us might be candidates for doxycycline therapy. My guess is that the brain is in a state of chronic inflammation. These people are full of cytokines, which produce inflammation. This inflammation is aggravated each time one suffers a systemic infection, as bacteria induce the production of cytokines by the immune system. Doxycycline does more than just kill little critters, which in itself could be an enormous help. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory in the brain by inhibiting cytokine production. The idea is to prevent infections and reduce cytokine-induced inflammation of the brain. People who are treated with doxycycline for depression must remain on it for quite awhile before results are seen - sometimes six months. If it works, you just stay on it indefinitely. Doxycycline is generally benign with regard to side effects. Of course, if you are allergic to the tetracyclines, you must put this idea aside. Signs of subsyndromal infection and/or inflammation include a chronic increase in the number of white blood cells (WBC), particularly monocytes. One could go for a cytokine immunoassay, but I do not believe it is worth the expense. The bottom line is that this stuff is for real, and one cannot be sure if targeting brain inflammation will help until it is tried. One interesting observation by my doctor is that some people will actually feel worse at first. He believes this is actually a good sign. My guess is that the accumulation of dead bacteria and their lysing provides an increase in the proteins that stimulate phagocyte production. The process of phagocytosis stimulates the secretion of cytokines by these active phagocytes. I really don't know for sure.

If you are interested to research this yourself, you can find supportive literature for all of these pieces of this puzzle. However, you are going to have to put the pieces together for yourself. I haven't yet found any one article that would produce an explanation as I have here.

I tried doxycycline for 6 months. Nothing good - nothing bad. Systemic infections do not make my depression worses. However, if you do experience a worsening of depression associated with an infection, you might want to look further into doxycycline treatment. Doxycycline is preferred over monocycline. I think doxycycline inhibits more potently the secretion of cytokines.

I almost forgot to mention: Some of the drugs in the antidepressant pipeline are neurokinin (NK1 and NK2) receptor antagonists (blockers). Neurokinin is a subtype of cytokine. This is an elegant way to prevent brain inflammation. Even if cytokine levels are elevated, its target receptor never sees it and thus does not respond with an inflammation reaction.

- Scott




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