Cytokines and Mental Health

Volume 7 of the series Neurobiological Foundation of Aberrant Behaviors pp 129-146

Cytokines and Sickness Behavior

  • Robert DantzerAffiliated withInegrative Neurobiology, INRA-INSERM U394

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Non specific symptoms of infection and inflammation include fever and profound physiological and behavioral changes. Sick individuals experience weakness, malaise, listlessness and inability to concentrate. They become depressed and lethargic, show little interest in their surroundings and stop eating and drinking. This constellation of non-specific symptoms is collectively referred to as “sickness behavior”. Due to their commonality, sickness symptoms are frequently ignored by physicians. They are considered as an uncomfortable, but rather banal, component of the pathogen-induced debilitation process that affects an ill individual.