Depression & Low Mood
Here are a few reasons why you should use alternative, whole person approaches for Depression
Depression is a symptom, not a specific disorder or disease.
Depression is the body's way of letting us know there is something out of balance.
Depression is defined by a collection of symptoms:
- loss of interest
- sadness, irritability
- changes in sleep (increase or decrease)
- changes in weight (gain or loss)
- changes in concentration and memory
- slowed movements and vague physical symptoms like nausea, body pains
- guilt, feelings of worthlessness
- suicidal ideas and thoughts
This collection of symptoms then leads to a diagnosis of depression, but it does not inform us how to treat because it doesn't answer the "why" - what has caused the depression?
There's more to the story than Serotonin
The "monoamine hypothesis" or "serotonin hypothesis" have been long described as the cause of depression. This is why the psychiatric medications prescribed for depression are drugs which attempt to alter the level of "serotonin" (our mood neurotransmitter) in the brain.
However: “There is no clear and convincing evidence that monoamine deficiency accounts for depression; that is, there is no real monamine deficit.” --Stephen Stahl, Essential Psychopharmacology, 2000
This means that throughout the decades of research looking into depression and the drugs we use to treat it, we have not been able to prove this theory to be true.
Anti-Depressants may not work
The drug companies which developed drugs like prozac left almost half of their studies unpublished over a span of 17 years, and these unpublished studies showed that the drugs did not work better than placebo, and if they did, it was not significant. This data manipulation lead to more and more psychiatric drugs being released onto the market and used by millions.
Yet, we're more medicated than ever and our long term outcomes seem to be worse overall. There is more disability, more long term depression, and less return to happy, healthy lives than we've seen in decades prior. These drugs also come with a wide range of side effects. They can be difficult to get off of. They can even change the way the brain functions long term.
We need to treat Depression by looking at the underlying causes
There can be many factors involved, but by taking a detailed history, looking at your physical signs and symptoms, and using lab testing, we can figure out which components may be out of balance for you.
Here are a few of the big ones!
- Hormone imbalances: Estrogen and Progesterone should be helpful to our mood, but when they're imbalanced or we aren't resilient enough to deal with the regular fluctuations, mood changes can occur.
- Thyroid issues: Low or high levels of thyroid hormone can lower mood along with other physical symptoms
- Food sensitivities: Most commonly gluten and dairy because of their close connection with mood, however others can be involved.
- Inflammation: Big connection between mood and inflammation. Studies have shown that if you cause inflammation in someone without, up to 50% of people can develop depressive symptoms.
- Medications: Birth control pills, antacids, statins, antibiotics (just to name a few) can all have impacts on mood
- Nutrient deficiencies or increased requirements: Low levels of vitamins and minerals required for healthy mental functioning may be playing a role - it only takes one!
- Gut dysbiosis: The gut is like our second brain, and the health of the gut and the microbes in it can directly impact mood.