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Friday CE Series: The Impact of Illness, Inflammation and Hormones on Mood Disorders: Brain or Body?

  • Fri, January 12, 2024
  • 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM
  • online via Zoom


  • Please be logged in to your account in order to register at this level
  • Members of SFCAMFT, RECAMFT, and East Bay CAMFT chapters are invited to participate in our session for free!


Understanding connections between immunology and mental health

The Impact of Illness, Inflammation and Hormones on Mood Disorders: Brain or Body?

Presented by Christina Cowger, LMFT

2 CEs available

Free for Marin CAMFT members and reciprocal chapter members!

Workshop Description

The immune system plays an important role in regulating brain processes. The area of psychoneuroimmunology is rapidly evolving. Autoimmune conditions (lupus, RA, etc.) and many infection-driven illness (Lyme disease) impact many central nervous system functions and can have a direct correlation to mood dysregulation. The brain-immune axis is interacting through molecules such as cytokines from the immune system and neurotransmitters from the central nervous system with the resulting data supporting those individuals with an ongoing immune upregulation and/or autoimmune condition have a higher risk of mood disorders. Additionally, women at various life stages such as menopause experience more mood and sleep disorders. As the hormone system shifts certain neurotransmitters can be impacted. This life stage also correlates with an uptick in reported autoimmune conditions in females.

One cause of depression can be attributed to a deficiency of the monoamine neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and/or dopamine. Other models that have been proposed besides the monoamine hypothesis including the excitotoxicity, neuroinflammatory, metabolic and hormonal. The impact of long-haul illness (which is on the rise) demands a deeper awareness of the care team because in addition to the vital role’s neurotransmitters play in the brain, they are biosynthesized in the periphery to regulate many biological processes. These functions can be dramatically influenced by illness and inflammation.

Through a didactic style presentation interwoven with short video vignettes and interactive visuals, participants will learn the foundational body to brain interplay. This will give participants a deeper understanding of how an immune issue (long covid, Lyme, Chronic Fatigue etc.) can, overtime, impact the neurochemicals in the brain. This information will be highlighted by a simple review of the newer more novel approaches to psychopharmacology that target mood. Case studies, videos and current research on inflammation, illness, and hormones as they related to mood will be presented.

Educational Goals

Participants will gain a deeper understanding of the neuro-hormone-immune interplay and its potential impact on mood. Participants will be able to name key stress hormones, neurotransmitters, hormones, and basic immune system impact on the central nervous system and mood disorders. The presentation will review the current data on the impact of poverty, health access and gender on illness outcomes, and will cover racial, socioeconomic and gender variations in access to care and outcomes. The presentation will also review current and novel new drugs being developed for mood that have original application in physiological illness.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this workshop, participants should be able to:

  1. Identify key brain regions affected by both emotional and biologic stressors.
  2. Assess the statistical data on the emotional impact of long-term illness.
  3. Identify the basic current biomarkers (testing available) for assessment.
  4. Define key hormones and life stages that are affiliated with higher rates of mood disorders.
  5. Create a basic check list of “flags” for referring out to medical care teams.
  6. Identify bias that clients may experience from both visible and non-visible illness.


    Christina Cowger Christina Cowger, LMFT, has worked within the integrative medicine field for over two and a half decades providing both CME and CE education to health providers. Christina is a licensed mental health practitioner who has lectured throughout the West Coast on topics such as mood, anxiety, stress, depression, trauma, and addiction. Her teaching and lecturing venues include Stanford University, Kaiser Permanente, California Pacific Medical Center, Dominican University, Sonoma State University, and groups such as WAAT (Women’s Association for Addiction Treatment), CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders), the Nevada Osteopathic Association, physician groups, and addiction treatment centers.  Christina is in the final stages of her book, which will be published next year.

    PLEASE NOTE: This event will be recorded. By registering for this event you are consenting to a recording being made which may include your voice and/or image. This recording may be available for review and downloading. By registering for this event, you are agreeing for your likeliness to possibly be used by Marin CAMFT.

    The Zoom link and password are provided in the registration confirmation email after sign-up is completed.

    Attendance at the live event in full and completion of the evaluation at the end qualifies for 2 hours of Continuing Education (2 CEUs).

    Date: Friday, January 12
    Time: 12 noon to 2 pm Pacific
    Cost: Free for Marin CAMFT members and reciprocal members, $20 for non-members.
    Location:  Online via Zoom. Password and link sent upon registration.

    Additional Information about Marin CAMFT CE Programs

    For more information about the Friday Continuing Education Series or about joining the Marin CAMFT Continuing Education Committee, please contact our Director of Programs Norman Hering.

    • Continuing Education: This workshop meets the qualifications for 2 hours of continuing education credit for LMFTs, LCSWs, LEPs and/or LPCCs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. These CEs will be provided by Marin CAMFT (CAMFT Provider # 56895), which is approved by the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists to sponsor continuing education for LMFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs and LEPs. We regret that at this time we are not able to provide CE units for Licensed Psychologists. Participants must attend the full duration of the program (on Zoom, or in person, per event details above) and complete the course evaluation to receive the CE completion certificate. Marin CAMFT maintains responsibility for this program and its contents. Contact our Director of Programs at for more information.

    • Continuing Education Goal: Marin CAMFT is committed to offering continuing education courses to train LMFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs and LEPs to treat any client in an ethically and clinically sound manner based upon current accepted standards of practice.

    • Refund Policy: Our refund policy requires a $20 processing fee, therefore refunds are not available for this program, as the maximum purchase price is $20. We also do not provide refunds in case of non-attendance by the registrant.  Please contact our Director of Programs at with any questions.

    • Request for Accommodations: If you need accommodations for this event, please contact the Director of Programs at
    • Grievance Procedure: Marin CAMFT will respond to complaints in a reasonable, ethical and timely manner, when submitted by program attendees in writing to the Director of Programs.

    • Anti-Discrimination Policy: Marin CAMFT shall not discriminate against any individual or group with respect to any service, program or activity based on gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, creed, national origin, citizenship status, religion, age, ability, or other prohibited basis. Marin CAMFT does not require attendees to adhere to any particular religion or creed in order to participate in training. Marin CAMFT will not promote or advocate for a single modality of treatment that is discriminatory or likely to harm clients based on current accepted standards or practice.

    Continuing education credits are available for attendance in the Zoom presentation. You must stay on the Zoom meeting for the entirety of the training and complete the course evaluation afterward in order to receive a completion certificate. Because of the requirement to attend the training in full, if you attempt to log in to the Zoom late, after the training is already underway, you may not be admitted. Please log onto the event promptly at the listed start time.

    Marin County Chapter of CAMFT                  

    PO Box 9065 San Rafael, CA 94912-9065     

    (415) 459 3484

    Marin CAMFT is approved by  the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT Provider #56895) to sponsor continuing education for LMFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs, and LEPs

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