Depression impacts 1 in 6 individuals over the course of a lifetime. It tremendously impacts the life of the individual. Areas impacted are socially, work, family, and relationships. One of the most devastating things is the feeling of hopelessness and not being able to identify the cause.
● Loss of Pleasure
● Difficulty Focusing
● Sleep Changes
● Cognitive Changes (Memory and Decision Making)
Traditionally depression has been viewed from a neurochemical perspective. Treatment has been mainly directed at improving the levels of serotonin as well asnorepinephrine.
We know that this is not the only mechanism involved as many patients do not respond to a variety of different medications. Unfortunately this approach is very limited as nearly 50-60% of individuals have what is called “treatment resistant depression”.
A variety of factors are believed to play a role such as diet, head injuries, inflammation, genetics, stress, and altered hormone levels. I am going to highlight causes of depression: brain connectivity (head injuries), hormone driven, and gut health.
Factors that Contribute to Depression
The first one I want to talk about is brain connectivity. This simply refers to how each neuron communicates with the other to efficiently perform a job. Connectivity can be negatively impacted by concussions, TBI, PTSD, and neurodegenerative disorders(Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Dementia). A thorough history and functional exam will identify areas of dysfunction in the brain. By treating the areas impacted there is the ability to improve depression.
There are many ways to help improve brain connectivity. We use customized plans to meet the needs of each individual.
One of the first labs traditionally ordered upon presentation of depression is TSH and T4to evaluate for decreased thyroid function. This test is not a comprehensive thyroid test and does not evaluate for autoimmunity or free thyroid levels. There are many who have autoimmune thyroid who will still feel bad with or without medications. All autoimmunity is going to drive up inflammation.
The other set of hormones that plays a major role in depression or depression like symptoms are sex hormones (testosterone in males and estrogen/progesterone in females). These hormones not only play a role in sexual function, but are essential for energy and proper brain connectivity.
Gut health is one of the most researched topics. It is especially being evaluated for its role in neuropsychiatric, autoimmune, and neurodegenerative disorders. I am going to consider depression as a neuropsychiatric disorder due to not only emotional but cognitive symptoms that are present. One of the things being researched about gut health is the impact of probiotics on depression. Research continually shows a positive impact of probiotics on depression. Probiotics help change the microbiome. Diet is one of the most important things to change the microbiome and can have a profound impact on depression symptoms.
Why does your gut microbiome matter? A very crucial part of the immune system is in the gut. When the gut is not healthy it will release a tremendous amount of inflammatory chemicals that ultimately will reach the brain. Our body can react to foods as well.
Why Our Approach Is Different
We evaluate many factors that can lead to depression instead of simply throwing one medication after another at it. This can include nutrient status, hormones, gut health, brain health, and much more. Our team is constantly searching and implementing the most current research to help with depression.
Ultimately what makes us different is that our approach is 100% centered around the patient. This includes focusing on the physical, cognitive, emotional, and spiritual domains of health. We perform a comprehensive history to identify the cause: stress, head injuries such as concussion), diet, and gut health. It is important to note that many individuals have concussions or sub-concussive injuries that they feel they have recovered from but really have not. We have seen this to be a common reason for unresolved depression.