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Depression effects every aspect of your life. From motivation to overwhelming negative thoughts. It paralyzes your ability to live fully. Depression effects more than 30 million Americans which are currently using antidepressant and anti-psychotic drugs to “cure” mental illness. Depression can be a result of neurotransmitter imbalances, which is relatively easy to remedy. The proper balance of neurotransmitters in the brain is crucial to feeling good.
Early physicians did not use drugs to treat depression, they actually used lifestyle changes and took a good long look at the diet. Much different than the paradigm of our mental health community today. It may seem strange that these mental health doctors used to look at the gut. You might be wondering why they would look at the gut for a brain issue. The truth is, around 90% of neurotransmitters are made in the gut.
Not a single study has shown that depression is solely a neurotransmitter deficiency. The brain can also be affected by other organ systems. Unregulated blood sugar (either high or low) can cause bouts of depression or melancholy. One of the effects of low functioning thyroid, even while medicated, can cause brain fog and depression.
Depression is not only a “brain issue” and/or neurotransmitter issue. Depression is relaying a message to you that your body is deficient or lacking in some area that needs to be addressed, like a warning signal.
Our bodies are made up of a compilation of intricate systems that function together. If we have an issue in one organ system, it is likely that other organ systems are not functioning properly on a sub-clinical level. Meaning, blood work numbers may not be out of range enough to detect a problem in a standard medical model. So even if you don’t feel well, you may still hear the dreaded words, “you are normal” or maybe you have tried antidepressants and they aren’t quite doing the trick. We can help you in supporting your overall health – setting goals to get you well and address areas in the “grey zone” including, but not limited to, depression.

-Jordan Sikes

Dr. Ann is the absolute best! I injured my back three years ago and as a result, I ended up not able to work because of chronic low back and leg pain. I also experienced depression and anxiety attacks. I saw one chiropractor, a neurosurgeon, three MD’s, and went through a month-long pain management program before I found Dr. Ann. My most recent MD (a pain management specialist) had pretty much given up on my case and told me that I would just be in pain for the rest of my life and gave me painkillers and Zoloft to soften the blow. I met Dr. Ann at an extreme low point in my life. I was sure that nobody would be able to help me. When I talked to Dr. Ann, she was confident that she would be able to make a difference in my life. She has! Because of her encouragement, friendship, and treatments (both emotional and physical), she helped me to regain movement, to get off the drugs, and to lose 60 pounds! I used to sit and do nothing because I hurt so bad. Now I am able to move around, exercise, and I feel so much better for it. At one point, my day revolved around when I took the next round of painkillers. Now I am no longer dependent on medications and I have learned more healthy ways of coping with pain. I’ve struggled with my weight all my life, and now I have lost 60 pounds because of Dr. Ann’s nutrition advice. My quality of life is better now at 29 than it was when I was 20, and I have Dr. Ann to thank for it. I no longer think of myself as a “chronic pain patient” and I look forward to seeing more positive changes in my life because of Dr. Ann’s influence. Make an appointment with her- she can help!

Early physicians did not use drugs to work on depression, they actually used lifestyle changes and took a good long look at the diet. Much different than the paradigm our mental health community is using today.  It may seem strange that these mental health doctors used to look at the gut. You might be wondering why they would look at the gut for a brain issue.

One Piece of the Puzzle: Neurotransmitters

The truth is around 90% of neurotransmitters are made in the gut. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers for the brain. 

It has become common knowledge that antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs “cure” mental illness and today they are some of the most prescribed and sold drugs.  Lots of people believe it is their only treatment option. They are so commonly used that they have around 30 million users. Most of the users of antidepressants are women.  An astonishing 1 in 7 women are being medicated and 1 in every 4 women between the ages 40 and 50 are using antidepressants. This is an extraordinary number of women that don’t feel well and are struggling with major symptom of depression.

[pullquote]Not a single study has shown that depression is solely a neurotransmitter deficiency.  The brain can be affected by other organ systems.  [/pullquote]

Unregulated blood sugar either high or low can cause bouts of moods of depression or melancholy.  One of the effects of low functioning thyroid, even medicated, can cause brain fog and depression.

Depression is not only a brain issue, many other factors play into depression.  

Maybe the patient is hypoglycemic.  Think of a time when your blood sugar crashed.  You potentially became “hangry” or angry for no reason. Maybe you snapped at your coworker and showed major signs of aggression and irrational behavior. Think about a time you started crying for no reason, or felt as though your world was crashing in on you. This can be an effect of your blood sugar being dysregulated (You can read more about blood sugar regulation in our blood sugar post).  

I see a common cycle in practice, per evaluating blood work, most people are not digesting their food properly. In turn, absorption of important nutrients becomes compromised leading bouts of hypoglycemia.  It is incredibly important to be digesting your food fully. Your stomach needs to break your food down into small enough pieces so that it can readily be absorbed in your small intestine. This allows food to be your medicine.  

If your stomach is not fully doing its job, food will travel to your small intestines as particles that are too big for absorption. This in turn can damage the cell junctions leading to a condition known as leaky gut that will increase food allergies and sensitivities.  This ultimately creates an inflammatory reaction in the body.

How can you feel mentally good if the body is dealing with leaky gut, inflammation, food allergies/sensitivities, blood sugar issues, and poorly digested food.

In this scenario it is not possible to make neurotransmitters due to the inability to utilize the food you are eating.

A very common side effect of thyroid dysfunction is depression.

Even if your blood work levels are not out of reference range you can still suffer from thyroid related fatigue, brain fog and depression.  If the thyroid is not functioning optimally, using an antidepressant, may not be addressing the root cause of the problem.

Our bodies are a compilation of intricate systems that  function together.  If we have an issue in one organ system, it is likely that other organ systems are dysfunctioning on a subclinical level.  Meaning that the blood work numbers are not out of range enough to detect a problem in a standard medical model.

So even if you don’t feel well, you hear the dreaded words: “you are normal”. The purpose of this blog post was to inform you that you have other options. Maybe you have tried antidepressants and they aren’t quite doing the trick.

We can help you to support your overall health to help get well and live life fully.

So even if you feel bad, you hear the dreaded words, you are normal.  In the functional medicine model, we are able to help you when you are in the grey zone.  

The grey zone means that you do not have pathology yet but are working towards it.  You have symptoms but nothing medically out of range on blood work. Your depression is not all in your head but it is your body’s way of sending a message to address your health.