The Connection Between Brain Inflammation and Mental Health
Whether the result of autoimmune processes, infection, allergy, or injury, brain inflammation can sometimes trigger or mimic common mental health symptoms like depression, anxiety, OCD, or even behavioral changes. This connection between brain inflammation and mental health is often neglected by healthcare providers leading to misdiagnosis, confusion, and delays in receiving appropriate care—or even the wrong care.
Looking for Clarity
Did you know brain inflammation and mental health symptoms can result from viral infections or even bacteria from an abscessed tooth or strep infection? And some autoimmune illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis and POTS are now thought to have associations with brain inflammation. Even long COVID is being studied for connections to brain inflammation and mental health symptoms.
Understanding the connections between brain inflammation and mental health symptoms can be difficult and confusing for families, clinicians, and even researchers. As part of our research, we hope to identify ways to determine when brain inflammation is involved in the triggering of mental health symptoms.
Some of the physical and mental health symptoms we are investigating include:
- Behavior changes
- Abnormal restrictive eating behaviors
- Anxiety disorders
- Brain fog or cognitive issues
- Intrusive thoughts
- Chronic fatigue
- Motor and vocal tics
- Light-headedness and/or dizziness
- Joint or nerve pain
Inadequate research of immune correlations can create pain and anguish for these debilitating and mischaracterized mental health symptoms. The effects are devastating on the lives of patients and families— all too common of a story. But we feel strongly that the solution is hidden in plain sight. Our goal is to assemble the largest patient-driven data and biosample resource to date to uncover the answers needed to further advancements in diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
Investigating Mental Health Connections Through Our Unhide™ Project
The Unhide™ Project is a simple-to-use online digital platform that tracks patient health stories, symptoms, life events, and bio-samples all in one place. We look to further advancements in diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of brain inflammation through this clinical research registry and biobank platform.
Our goal is to look for patterns and triggers in both mental and physical health data. However, we also hope this tool will help families ease the overall burden of collecting and organizing patient health care data—both for themselves and for sharing with healthcare providers.
The beginning phase of our ongoing research study will include people with a diagnosis or suspected diagnosis of one or more of the following:
- Autoimmune forms of arthritis (e.g. Rheumatoid Arthritis, Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis)
- Autoimmune Encephalitis
- Celiac Disease
- Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS)
- Post-COVID syndromes marked by exacerbation or onset of at least one mental health or neurological symptom
- Sjogren’s Syndrome
- Traumatic Brain Injury
In addition, the following neuropsychiatric disorders are included in the Unhide™ Project:
- Bipolar Disorder (clinical-enrolled only)
- Eating disorders involving restrictive eating and/or purging (i.e. Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, ARFID)
- Major Depression
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and other anxiety disorders (exclusive of simple phobias)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Although these neuropsychiatric disorders may not be strictly neuroinflammatory in nature, they have been included due to:
- the strong observable overlap between these disorders and neuroinflammatory syndromes
- diagnostic uncertainties across these groups
- the desire to better distinguish neuroinflammatory versus other forms of these disorders with data.
Mental health and brain inflammation research has been underrepresented for far too long. No long-term, real-world study has ever been done to track individuals suffering from brain inflammation and mental health issues. By participating in the Unhide™ Project, you will join a large, collaborative effort to help us learn about mental health symptoms that we feel are driven by brain inflammation.
Visit the Unhide™ Project to learn more about eligibility and the benefits of joining our project.