Depression, the chemical component
It’s that time of the year again for many when we are getting ready for the winter hibernation period. You might say that there are plenty of outside activities in the winter here to keep us outside, and you would be correct. However, for many, this is a time of year is when depression and anxiety are at their worst.
They have lost a loved one, do not or cannot handle the cold temperatures or don’t enjoy the vast array of winter activities this area has to offer. While you may not be suffering with this debilitating condition, chances are that someone you know is. This information is a chance to explore other options and reasons that may be the key to unlocking a brighter future for the many who suffer here in the valley with this disease.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the rate of antidepressant use in this country among teens and adults increased by almost 400 percent between 1988-1994 and 2005-2008. The federal government estimates that about one in every 10 Americans takes an antidepressant. As I stated above, it may not affect you, but you definitely have friends and family who are affected.
The real question here is why the huge rise in use? Some would say better diagnosing of depression. While that may be true, it does not explain why they have it in the first place.
Our bodies are a symphony of chemicals that normally play beautiful music and are in harmony. For many though, there is no harmony and their symphony is nails on a chalkboard.
Depression and thyroid function: Approximately 10-15 percent of patients with depression have a thyroid hormone deficiency. Testing should include thyroid-stimulating hormone, free serum thyroxine (fT4), free triiodothyroxine (fT3), reverse T3 (rT3), anti-thyroglobulin antibodies (anti-TG) and anti-thyroid peroxidase antibodies (anti-TPO). Obtaining a comprehensive panel is essential to look at all the issues of the thyroid, especially when medical literature has found a link between low T3 and longstanding depression. The common treatment synthroid (a T4-only thyroid medication) may actually be increasing depression due to a lack of T3. There may also be autoimmune issues with the thyroid that must be addressed. The bottom line with depression is to get the complete panel to look at the whole picture.
The hypothalmic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA): This is the body’s phone line between these stress center players. The anterior pituitary produces six very important hormones. Each plays a role in maintaining health and stability. Depression starts a cascade of events that ultimately stimulates the pituitary to start producing hormones. One of these hormones tells the adrenals to produce its hormones, which are tied to stress and emotions as well. Overactivity of the body’s stress system is associated with anxiety, insomnia and loss of libido, while underactivity is linked to depression with accompanying fatigue, lethargy and indifference. Adrenal testing can assess the function of these factors so we can regulate that axis.
Nutritional deficiencies and chemical toxins: There are numerous articles on the connection between nutritional deficiencies and depression. There are numerous tests available to assess these deficiencies and possible toxicities.
The key here is to be proactive in your health. Not only find out what you have but strive to find out why you have it. If that is your focus, there are always chances to improve your life.
Today we just looked at some of the chemical aspects of depression. There of course are many other aspects to this disease and many others routes to improve your condition. Please let me know of any other conditions you would like discussed here so we can work on getting that information to you.
The information on this article is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of the author and the functional medicine community. The author encourages you to make your own health-care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional. You may contact the author at Integrated Health and Wellness located at Midland Fitness, 945-4440, and New Castle Family Fitness, 984-3200.
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