Depression & Mood Disorders
Depression is a collection of unpleasant emotional and physical symptoms that can be disabling. The underlying issues that contribute to depression are different in each patient and must be identified to effectively treat the disorder. Potential contributors include: sleep disorders, toxic chemical exposure, poor digestion, food allergies/ sensitivities, nutritional deficiencies, immune reactions, hormone levels, oxidative stress, inflammation, and the psychological and spiritual state of the patient.
Is Depression an Epidemic?
Depression has a profound impact on society. According to the World Health Organization, depression is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for people ages 15- 44. Depression can affect anyone but is most common in women. Mental Health America reports $31 billion worth of productive time is lost each year to depression among U.S. workers. Mood-altering drugs are being dispensed at record levels. Unfortunately, antidepressants do not work for everyone and many have frequent, unwanted side effects.
Integrative psychiatry is a method that treats both the mind and body. An evaluation of each patient's biochemistry and nutritional needs is essential for effective treatment. The goal is to restore health for the long-term, not just reduce symptoms.
Treatment of mood disorders begins with an analysis of the patient's biochemical profile, focusing on any abnormalities that may be contributing to symptoms. Test results can help medical practitioners create a treatment plan designed to restore balance and optimize function through nutritional support and diet. This integrative approach can enhance and reinforce traditional treatment methods, increasing the chance of recovery.
It is necessary to care for the whole patient, not just the disease. Comprehensive laboratory testing can identify the physiological imbalances that contribute to depression and point to an individual treatment approach to restore normal mood.
Evaluating The Patient
Clinical assessment of a patient's symptoms, a thorough medical history, and appropriate laboratory testing are the foundation for an effective treatment plan that can lead to restoration of a normal life.
What tests can I do?
Comprehensive biomedical testing to determine abnormalities:
Nutrient deficiencies can result from poor diet or malabsorption in the gut, and affect mood as it does overall health. The dramatic increase in depression may result from nutritionally deficient overly-refined, processed foods. The Organic Acids Test (OAT) detects underlying nutritional deficiencies, fatty acid metabolism, neurotransmitter production, and microbial levels that may cause depression.
The more the toxins and food allergens enter the bloodstream, the weaker your immune system becomes and the more "sick all over" you feel. When the Candida toxin acetaldehyde reacts with the neurotransmitter dopamine, it can cause mental and emotional disturbances such as anxiety, depression, poor concentration, and feeling spaced-out. Organic acids testing will reveal levels of Candida in the patient.
The Organic Acids Test also measures metabolites of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin, as well as vitamins C and B6, important cofactors in neurotransmitter production.
The OAT includes a major bacterial metabolite (HPHPA), which causes dopamine excess and is associated with schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, hyperactivity, depression, and chronic fatigue.
Exposure to even small amounts of lead and mercury are associated with increased hyperactivity, depression, criminal activity, and panic attacks. Metals testing screens for all common toxic metals, including lead, as well as for essential elements that can be toxic at high levels. Toxic chemicals, including organophosphates, benzene, toluene, and many others may impair brain function and cause psychiatric disorders.
When foods high in casein (milk) and gluten (wheat) are digested, they may convert to opiates in some patients, which can be detected by the Gluten/Casein Peptides Test. These opiates can influence mood and cognitive ability.
Research supports that food and chemical sensitivities can contribute to symptoms of depression, schizophrenia, and other mental disorders. The IgG Food Allergy Test determines sensitivities that manifest as neurological, gastrointestinal, and behavioral problems (as opposed to IgE symptoms of rash and sneezing). Symptoms may occur hours or days after the offending food has been eaten. In addition, when foods such as casein (milk) and gluten (wheat) are digested, they may convert to opiates in some patients, which can be detected by the Gluten/Casein Peptides Test. These opiates can influence mood and cognitive ability.
The human brain is 60% fat, and omega-3s are the fatty acid of choice for the structure of certain parts of brain cell membranes and brain intercellular nerve connections. Lack of dietary omega-3 forces the brain cells to utilize other fatty acids on hand, resulting in cells constructed with inferior building material, and is associated with cognitive and emotional disorders. The Comprehensive Fatty Acids Test is a good way to determine if there is a deficiency.
Epidemiologic and treatment evidence suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may play a role in the prevention and improvement of mood disorders, particularly depression. Most epidemiologic studies evaluating the association between depression and seafood consumption have reported statistically significant inverse association.
Cholesterol is critical for the production of brain myelin and the brain development protein, Sonic Hedgehog. Low cholesterol may prevent sufficient production of adrenal and sex hormones and is prevalent in patients with depression and bipolar disorder. Individuals who have substance abuse problems are much more likely to relapse if they have low cholesterol. Low cholesterol is also common in patients on staten drugs.
Low serum total cholesterol can be associated with low mood and subsequently a heightened risk of hospital treatment due to major depression disorder and suicidal ideation. Measurement of serum total cholesterol with the Advanced Cholesterol Profile might be helpful for the clinician in the search for and recognition of depression. 
Depression & Mood Disorder Resources
References for this page:
- Berk M, et al. N-Acetyl Cysteine for Depressive Symptoms in Bipolar Disorder A Double-Blind Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial. Biol Psychiatry. 2008 Jun 4.
- Douglas London, MD, Research Associate in Psychiatry at the Psychopharmacological Research Laboratory of McLean Hospital and medical faculty at Harvard Medical School; Barclay, L. (2007, October). Fighting depression and improving cognition with omega-3 fatty acids. Retrieved from http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2007/oct2007_report_depression_01.htm
- Freeman, MP, J Clin Psychiatry, 2009;70(suppl 5):7-11.
- Lesperance, F et al., J Clin Psychiatry, 2010.
- Partonen, T, et al. (1999). Association of low serum total cholesterol with major depression and suicide. British Journal of Psychiatry, 175, 259-262.
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