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.