Cells of happiness

Not from the deceitful pursuit of glory where hormones are illicitly used to enhance sports performance, blood doping might also build happiness.

A new study published in Biological Psychiatry introduces a potential new antidepressant agent erythropoietin (Epo), a hormone naturally produced by the kidneys that increases the amount of red blood cells.

Kamilla Miskowiak: “Although depression is often related to problems in the chemistry of the brain, recent evidence also suggests that there may be structural problems as well with nerve cells not being regenerated as fast as normal or suffering from toxic effects of stress and stress hormones.”

Be warned, though naturally occurring, Epo can be dangerous.

“The percentage of whole blood that is occupied by the red blood cells is referred to as, the hematocrit. A low hematocrit means dilute (thin) blood, and a high hematocrit mean concentrated (thick) blood. Above a certain hematocrit level whole blood can sludge and clog capillaries. If this happens in the brain it results in a stroke. In the heart, a heart attack. Unfortunately, this has happened to several elite athletes who have used EPO.”

It’s important to continue research to decrease depression which affects just over 3% of the population, similar to diabetes, asthma or arthritis, and is 12% of all disability. The number of people who cycle in and out of depression is five to 10 times greater.

It’s also been shown that feeling seriously blue is the most disabling of all chronic diseases.