Published in the open access journal BioPsychoSocial Medicine 2010, 4:3 (3 May 2010)
© 2010 Howk and Bennett; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This research reports immune function and health outcomes in women with depression, as compared with a nondepressed control group. Using Psychoneuroimmunolgy theory and a descriptive comparison design, scores on the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) were used to divide 40 non-hospitalized Caucasian women between the ages of 18 and 65 years into either the control or depression comparison group. Women with depression were found to report significantly more incidences of illness over the previous two months and they were found to have significantly more indicators of illness at the time of the exam as compared to the controls. However, contrary to what has been documented in some earlier studies of depression, women with depression were not found to have significantly different immune function measures as compared to the control group. There was also no significant correlation between scores on the BDI and natural killer cell cytotoxicity in this study. While these findings support a connection between depression and both increased self-report of illness and increased signs and symptoms of minor illness or inflammation on physical exam, this study was not able to document that these effects were related to decreased immune function, as measured by natural killer cell activity or white blood cell counts.


Biological Psychology | Health Psychology | Immune System Diseases | Nursing | Psychiatric and Mental Health