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Viruses and Mood: The Infection-Depression Connection

joy Jan 15, 2019

 By Tim Culbert, MD

I’ll assume you’ve had a head cold before. Those viral upper respiratory infections (URI) bring the usual symptoms of fever, stuffy nose, and scratchy throat. However, have you also noticed that you feel crabby, unmotivated, foggy, or restless at night?

The culprit? Neuroinflammation. Yes, a head cold = a hot head (and a bad mood).

Here’s how it works: Viral infections like a cold (caused by viruses like rhinovirus) or flu (caused by the influenza virus) are foreign invaders to the immune system. The immune system works as a “defense and repair” mechanism and is closely linked to your neurological and psychological systems. When those bug invaders enter, your immune system revs up to defend. This activation can cue the process of inflammation to occur in your body and brain. An inflamed brain (neuroinflammation) can contribute to a depressed mood and brain fog (i.e., mental fatigue, lack of clarity, poor concentration, and troubles with memory).

Take Good Care of Your Body AND Brain

When you’ve got a bug, the focus is often solely on the body. However, if those bugs are crashing your mood, then it’s also important to tend to your mental health. Try these strategies so that you can care for your body and brain:

  • Sleep! Try your best to rest, rest, rest. If you find yourself having trouble falling asleep, try one of these sleep techniques.
  • Use aromatherapy. You can pick your favorite mood-boosting blend or even one tailored to help during cold and flu season. We offer the Protect and Recover Aromatherapy Inhaler which contains eucalyptus, black spruce, cinnamon, rosemary, bergamot, and clove to open and soothe your mind and body. 
  • Enjoy anti-inflammatory foods. You can also try our curcumin supplement to support immune function and cool off your body and brain.

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