Toxoplasmosis and Depression

Posted by on Monday | December 17, 2012

Toxoplasmosis and Depression

Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by parasites labeled as toxoplasma gondii. The disease is common among warm-blooded creatures, especially cats and humans. It is believed that 30 to 50% of the world’s population is infected with it.

Among infected people with healthy immune system, toxoplasmosis can sometimes be mistaken as ordinary flu as the disease has no distinct symptoms. If patients have poor immune systems however, toxoplasmosis can cost them their mental health.

In a recent study conducted by the Center for Infectious Medicine at Karolinska Institutet and Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control, it was determined that toxoplasma can cause infected immune cells to secrete gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA). Experts have reason to believe that this can later on cause disturbances in the GABA system. The disturbance occurs when the infected cells together with its produced neurotransmitters penetrate the human brain. The GABA system is responsible in keeping the sensation of anxiety and fear at a minimum in a person’s psyche.

Though the exact link between toxoplasmosis and mental health disorders isn’t established yet, it is worth noting that the disease indeed affects certain operations of the brain. As to whether this leads to depression and other mental illnesses or not – further studies will have to be conducted to validate the initial finding.

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