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The Inflamed Mind: A Radical New Approach to Depression

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  824 ratings  ·  129 reviews
Worldwide, depression will be the single biggest cause of disability in the next 20 years. But treatment for it has not changed much in the last three decades. In the world of psychiatry, time has apparently stood still... until now. In this game-changing book, University of Cambridge Professor Edward Bullmore reveals the breakthrough new science on the link between depres ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published April 26th 2018 by Short Books Ltd
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Dr Neil MacFarlane MRCPsych
I am a psychiatrist and have not only seen hundreds of patients with depression, but also experienced it for several years. Dr Bullmore belongs to the same professional organisation as myself: the Royal College of Psychiatrists. He has worked half-time for a large British pharmaceutical company since 2005.

I think the starting point about interventions for depression is that most people just need good support. One problem has been that 'support' is often seen as a low-cost option, while different
May 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Pre-ordered this on Amazon and it arrived at 10am this morning.
I've just completed it.
This is the book I've been waiting for and this is the book I hoped it would be when I pre-ordered it.

Everyone should read this book... as everyone will be touched by depression/anxiety at some point in their lives - either personally or themselves know someone else with mental health issues.

Everyone should read it... including GPs.

Anyone reading this who has at some point battled with depression themselves (an
Peter Tillman
Feb 01, 2019 marked it as not-interested
This one comes under the category of "books I won't read", but you have to say you're going to, to post at Goodreads. So.
Carol Tavris at the WSJ didn't think much of this one: [paywalled]
"The cover of “The Inflamed Mind” should immediately arouse a reader’s suspicions about the reliability of what lies within. The subtitle promises “a radical new approach to depression,” and the front flap of the dust jacket claims this is a “game-changing” book that “reve
Bookworm Ava
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book should be added to the set reading list for all trainee doctors and clinicians with immediate effect. It should also be available at all mental health charities. All libraries both university and public. It should be made available to anybody who works with children whether as a support worker or teacher, but more importantly for anybody who is a sufferer of mental health issues or who is a carer of one (I am both) please read this book. For all those who sit on charitable commissions, ...more
Literary Soirée
🧠 🧠 🧠 🧠 🧠

THE INFLAMED MIND: A RADICAL NEW APPROACH TO DEPRESSION shares groundbreaking research into the role of the immune system and inflammation in the development of depression. Edward Bullmore, among the first animmunopsychiatrists, shares the pioneering work being done in clinical neuroscience that impacts not only depression, but also schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease. He describes the significant link between systemic inflammation and mental illness, heralding a new field of personal
Dec 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
What I gained from the book was not only how depression might be approached from an immunological perspective, but also a greater understanding of the history behind how we approach things in medicine and the limitations of the traditional Cartesian dualistic view, which is so inherent to the field that it may not be questioned by those practising medicine. I liked his honesty regarding the implications of what he has written about - that there is scepticism about the link between inflammation a ...more
Overall I found this book fascinating. The military metaphors for the immune system early on were a bit much, but I appreciated the accessibility of the content for non-medical readers. Most of all, I enjoyed seeing someone look at mental illness (and specifically depression) from a different angle. My family has a history of depression going back generations, and I'm being treated with the same therapies that my mother was (and is still) treated with when she was first diagnosed. So whether the ...more
Louise Christie
May 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Phenomenal. I wanted to pull my hair at times over the descriptions of psychological explanations of depression, but, big but - the most satisfying book on depression I have ever read. Very uncomfortable reading this on the tube to work and then having to use CBT to treat depression when I got there. It's not enough.

A must read for anyone interested in depression, for anyone who has or loves someone with a long term health problem.

I think I need to read it again.

Please, someone I know, read it
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this book. Bullmore is right, at least, in noting that “therapeutic progress [in psychiatry] has stalled in the last 30 years”, and that doctors still have little to offer other than SSRIs and talking therapies, helpful though they are to many people.

The book is, however, full of contradictions and unsubstantiated claims. That bodily inflammation might cause a lowering of mood is an interesting enough theory but that is all it is. Bullmore fails to back this claim with any kind
Jan 16, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An intriguing discussion of how depression is potentially caused by inflammation in the body. Bullmore argues that in response to infection our immune system is designed to inflame and send macrophages, which release cytokines into the blood; these then signal to lymphocytes to produce needed antibodies. People with inflammation, indicated by higher levels of cytokines, have been more likely to display symptoms of depression. Bullmore takes pains to argue the evolutionary benefit of this which p ...more
Jonna Higgins-Freese
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
It seemed plausible to me as a line for further research. Inflammation seems to be a culprit for any number of things.

Though overall, let me just go on record that within 50 years, I predict we are going to figure out the reasons for depression, obesity, and various increasing mental conditions: ADHD, autism, etc. I think we are with them where we were with tuberculosis in 1900: floundering around talking about "consumptive constitutions" and various quasi-effective remedies (in the case of tube
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Professor Edward Bullmore is Head of the Department of Psychiatry and the Director of the Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Cambridge and a part-time consultant for GlaxoSmithKline.

His book is a summary of the most recent research linking depression to physical inflammation.
I found it absolutely fascinating. Bullmore’s suggestion is that patients are not simply depressed because of their physical symptoms, but that their depression is
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
The author has some interesting proposals, but he overreaches. Though I think he makes a decent case that inflammation is involved in depression, he pushes for it to have a central role on thin evidence. The book is also padded with tangents on Descartes, the immune system, and evolution - fairly basic stuff, as in white blood cells drawn as Pac-Men. I was uncertain whether to lean toward the good parts or the weaker parts, but if Carol Tavris rated it two stars, I'll go with her.
Ashley Peterson
Jan 02, 2019 rated it liked it
The Inflamed Mind: A Radical New Approach to Depression is written by psychiatrist Edward Bullmore, and presents inflammation as a new frontier in tackling depression.  The author's bio at the beginning of the book reveals that he works at pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline.  He doesn't try to be subtle about disclosing this, and I didn't pick up any sense of bias.  He explains that in 2010 GSK shut down its mental health research and development (R&D) programs, and this was what prompted him ...more
Alex Delogu
I was initially enthused by this book. The (very) basics on immune response have me wanting to learn more. The connection between the immune system and consciousness is very intriguing. I was happy to see a fleeting mention of meditation and tai chi as inflammation reducers. Some of my criticisms were confirmed upon reading some other reviews. The insistence that the solution to inflammation lies in some medication, while holding some promise, never addresses the problems raised in the book itse ...more
Sarah Bates
Aug 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really interesting. The immune system explanations were very clear and the arguments fascinating. The structure of the last part seemed a bit bitty to me, though. Keep taking the turmeric!
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-books, borrowed
Historically the medical world has treated the brain and the body separately as per the teachings of Descartes. We still do. And we do it in completely separate hospitals.
If the body is under attack it becomes inflamed as white blood cells and macrophages overreact and nuke the infection site, but what about the brain? Is it possible for a root canal to cause a couple of days of depression? Is the blood brain barrier permeable? This is the question that got the author thinking.
But under US conve
Suzan Lemont
Interesting and exciting stuff laid out in a pretty accessible way for the layperson and lots of cute and entertaining anecdotes to lighten it up a bit. I found it a fascinating historical tutorial/ overview of various drug and other treatment modalities which even my chemist husband isn't aware of. But it's a bit grim/depressing at the end (there's no real help right now) and I was disappointed at the focus mainly on drug development and not on things like embodiment practices and expressive ar ...more
John Riley
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
As a new Psychiatric PA I was excited to read something on the “cutting-edge” of psychiatry to try and get a better understanding of where the field is heading theoretically and what the future of mental health practice may hold. While Dr. Bullmore does an excellent job of presenting his hypotheses regarding immunology and various medical disorders (chiefly MDD), his ideas seem better suited for a journal article than a book. The same ideas/clinical examples/history lessons are repeated over and ...more
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book presents very interesting theories and ideas about depression. How it's always been treated as a disease of the mind and as such considered separately from physical illnesses. But research is starting to indicate that perhaps in some cases depression could be a result of inflammation of the brain.

The brain in times past was considered to be separated and protected totally from the body by the blood brain barrier, something that investigators are beginning to believe to be not as much
Sue Page
Aug 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a fantastic book, regardless of whether or not you have a medical or scientific interest in the topic. It's written with the careful consideration of a scientist-practitioner, who understands and acknowledges that we don't have all of the evidence and answers just yet, but who can see a path that he believes will take us to that future. The idea that some people could have their suffering relieved by immunological therapies is so exciting and tantalising, yet at the same time it makes me ...more
May 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Prof. Bullmore makes an intersting case that most cases of depression are caused by physical inflamation. He also briefly covers the history of immunology and psychiatry/psychology, as well as providing a nice explanation of how the immune system and blood-brain barrier work. I found the placement of the history section in the middle of chapters rather jarring, but overall the book was informative.
Since SSRIs, no significant R&D has been done due to the best seller SSRIs.
There is a particular cause of depression that is related to inflammation.
More R&D is needed to find specific and concrete bio markers and data in the psychiatry and neurology areas because there are new opportunities and technology but no recent breakthroughs.
Feb 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
On Depression - a must read book

Heard its audio book and learned many new ideas about causes of depression.

If cancer is the emperor of all maladies, then depression surely is the king of mental illness.

But what exactly is depression? And what causes it? While the overwhelming majority of research so far has looked for the origins of depression in the brain and the mind, groundbreaking new studies are revealing how depression is not just a mental illness, but a bodily one too. And the crucial
Jul 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dr. Bullmore's new approach to depression is advertised as "radical"- yet it is only radical in some ways, and a long time coming in others. It is radical in the sense that neither depression, nor any other mental health illness, has ever been proposed to be treatable with anti-inflammatory medication. The research that implicates systemic inflammation as a causal factor in these diseases is definitely promising enough to be explored in clinical trials, as Dr. Bullmore suggests. I found the phar ...more
Brian Goosen
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the book I've waited my entire life to read.

As someone who struggled and continues to struggle with anxiety & depression, coupled with now suffering from an autoimmune disease (ankylosing spondylitis), this refreshing read helped me to detract from the original thinking that anxiety/depression in "all in your head." It also helped me understand my autoimmune disease in a "dumbed-down" fashion, and I now feel like I know my condition inside and out.

Upon reading this book you'll quickly
Erik Surewaard
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wow! This book was a real eye opener for me. It first of all gave a thorough view on how depression has been treated, this historically up to today. The author clearly shows that unfortunately much is still to be understood about the workings of the brain... the state-of-art on what causes depression and how it is treated has progressed only little over the past three decadeds. This contrary to other fields of medical study, which have progressed way more...

I especially liked how the author desc
Jennifer Sullivan
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing book! As someone who is totally into medical/pop psych books, I highly recommend adding this to your personal library :-)

The author, a former employee of Glaxo, Smith, Kline , wrote this book to challenge the DSM 5's definition of depression. In short, the DSM 5 does not allow a clinician to diagnose major depressive disorder ("depression as we know it") if the patient has an existing bodily disorder. In the example used, the patient could not be diagnosed with depression - even
Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Edward Bullmore's book is both amazing and disappointing. It's amazing because his writing is refreshingly clear as he lays out his thesis about inflammation's role in depression. He explains the nascent field of psycho-immunology and how much has been learned about the immune system 30 years. He also documents the weaknesses inherent in contemporary mental health-care, which is based on the ages-old Cartesian separation of mind and body.

The book is disappointing, however, because any treatment
Mandy Blackspoon
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book manages to explain a complex set of ideas which reveals the truth of how important immunology is to human health and disease. A few times I wondered why Bulmore was talking about philosophical approaches and ideologies of medicine from the 17th century but if you stick with the subject it adds much need background to why there has not been investment in mental health in the last 30 years, and makes his conclusions and predictions credible if not a little but optimistic. I appreciated t ...more
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“My mental state was a reflection or meditation on my physical state, rather than directly caused by my physical state.” 1 likes
“we are beginning to understand that the immune system could also be able to remember childhood episodes of assault or famine or any other severe threat to the self’s early survival. Child abuse survivors may enter adult life with their immune system set on a hair-trigger, poised to react to minor infections and social setbacks with a disproportionate inflammatory response that causes depressive symptoms.” 1 likes
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