Inflammation of the body has been proven to be involved in the development of cardiovascular-related issues such as coronary heart disease and atherosclerosis (a build-up of plaque in the arteries).
Anxiety is prevalent in sufferers of cardiovascular conditions yet this is often untreated and unnoticed. Scientists have developed a theory that the high rates of anxiety may be attributed to the inflammation present in these conditions.
A 2013 large cohort study published by the renowned journal Nature noted a link between inflammation and anxiety disorders:
- Participants were aged 18-65 with a current diagnosed anxiety disorder
- Researchers checked inflammatory markers
- They took lifestyle and disease factors into account to ensure these did not interfere with the result-drawing process
- Certain inflammatory markers were found to be elevated in several anxiety disorders, whereas past studies have been limited to specific conditions or symptoms of anxiety in the general population
- Findings also appear to indicate that the effects are dependent on one’s sex and age. This inflammation is most prevalent in men and women who develop an anxiety disorder later in life.
- Further studies are required to assess whether inflammation and anxiety have a bidirectional relationship, or whether inflammation simply causes the anxiety.
These issues can be avoided by anti-inflammatory lifestyle choices such as maintaining a healthy weight, regularly exercising, avoiding processed foods, and increasing anti-inflammatory ingredients in your diet. Anti-inflammatory foods include fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants. A 2018 study found that Parkinson disease patients scored lower on Hospital-associated Anxiety and Depression scale following supplementation with anthocyanin, a type of antioxidant found in purple foods.