Depression today is usually treated with drugs. However, the SSRI anti-depressants such as Prozac and Zoloft have potentially serious side effects and do not address causes. Dr. Julian Whitaker and Dr. Peter Breggin found that almost all so-called rampage murders were committed by people on SSRI anti-depressants. In one study of women who murdered their own children, 24 out of the 31 were taking anti-depressants.
Depression is often related to nutritional imbalances. Hair mineral testing is an excellent way to identify many factors that contribute to depression and guide their correction.
A major cause of depression is fatigue. Mineral analysis can often detect causes of fatigue and exhaustion. These include an imbalanced oxidation rate, vital mineral deficiencies, toxic metal excess, sugar and carbohydrate intolerance, excessive catabolism or tissue breakdown and poor protein synthesis. Before discussing these, let us examine the idea that depression can be a positive adaptation to fatigue and exhaustion.
Dr. Paul Eck advanced the idea that depression may be a defensive or corrective symptom to prevent further damage in the face of exhaustion. When one's body is exhausted, depression may set in as a way to slow one down, to spare the body further damage.
The truth of this idea has been demonstrated a number of times in my practice. Patients who begin a scientific nutrition program sometimes report their depression is gone, but now they are exhausted. A few months later, they report their exhaustion is better as well.
This is a retracing process. Fatigue and exhaustion preceded the development of depression. That is, depression is actually a later stage after exhaustion. Recovery reverses this process. For this reason, when the depression lifts, one is left with the exhaustion that was underneath it. Then as healing progresses, the fatigue also lifts.
Depression is common in very slow oxidizers and also very fast oxidizers because they do not produce energy efficiently. These imbalances are similar to running a car engine at the wrong speed or RPM. The energy efficiency goes down and the car has less power. This leads to fatigue and often to depression.
Depression is more common in slow oxidizers. These people are characterized by underactive adrenal and often underactive thyroid activity. The adrenal hormone cortisol induces a state of well-being or natural "high". When cortisol secretion is diminished, one may often feel low or depressed. Also, hypothyroidism and hypoglycemia in slow oxidizers can contribute to depression feelings.
In slow oxidizers, excess tissue calcium has a depressing effect on the central nervous system. It can also decrease cell permeability, blocking the flow of vital nutrients into the cells. Elevated tissue magnesium is often biounavailable. Magnesium is essential for energy production.
Slow oxidizers are also prone to candida albicans overgrowth. Candida produces alcohol and other toxins that can contribute to feelings of depression.
Slow oxidizers are also commonly copper toxic. As discussed below, copper excess is associated with feelings of depression. Slow oxidizers often don't feel like exercising. Yet exercise is known to help alleviate feelings of depression.
Slow oxidizers may not feel like eating protein, yet eating more protein and less sugars and starches helps prevent feelings of depression. Protein foods supply tyrosine, phenylalanine and other nutrients needed for neurotransmitter production.
Fast oxidizers may also report depression. Fast oxidizers may seem to have plenty of energy, but this can be deceptive. Often they run themselves hard and become exhausted if they relax. Very fast oxidizers are not producing energy efficiently and can even become paranoid. Many fast oxidizers are on an energy roller coaster, because of a diet high in sugar and starches. When blood sugar drops, depression feelings can become severe.
Depression is more common in fast oxidizers when the sodium/potassium ratio is low. These people are called burned-out fast oxidizers, or at times called slow oxidizers under stress. With correction, they often convert to slow oxidizers. Correcting the oxidation rate through proper diet and supplementation often improves slow and fast oxidizer-related depression.
Copper is sometimes called the emotional mineral because it enhances emotions. One of these emotions is depression. Copper has diverse effects. It oxidizes and destroys vitamin C which is needed for adrenal activity. It stimulates the biogenic amines, epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine. It can interfere with thyroid activity, affect energy levels, cause insomnia that results in fatigue and it tends to raise tissue calcium levels which may contribute to feelings of fatigue and depression.
Copper imbalance is a potent cause of depression associated with premenstrual tension. Copper is also often a factor in vegetarians who are depressed. Vegetarian proteins are high in copper and low in zinc. Also, vegetarian proteins are low in sulfur-containing amino acids needed to help detoxify copper. Copper toxicity is also associated with food allergies, which can induce feelings of depression in some people.
An empirical finding by Dr. Paul Eck is that a tissue sodium/potassium ratio less than 2.5:1 is strongly associated with fatigue and hidden copper toxicity. He found this pattern associated with chronic emotions including frustration, resentment and hostility - all emotions of turning in upon oneself. Depression is also a form of turning one's attention in on oneself and common when the tissue sodium/potassium ratio is low.
All the toxic metals are directly neurotoxic. This includes cadmium, mercury, lead and arsenic. These may cause depression by directly blocking certain enzymes related to depression. They can also impair cellular energy production and induce fatigue that contributes to depression.
Hypoglycemia causes the brain to temporarily starve for fuel. Depression is one of the main symptoms associated with hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemic tendencies are identified on hair mineral analyses by an imbalanced calcium/magnesium ratio, a low sodium/potassium ratio, an imbalanced oxidation rate or deficiencies of zinc, manganese or chromium.
Diet and lifestyle play important roles in hypoglycemia, although weak adrenals, nutrient deficiencies, toxic metals, stress and other factors may all be important causes.
Slow oxidizers tend to have chronic low blood sugar due to weak adrenals. Fast oxidizers are more prone to acute hypoglycemic episodes due to low glycogen reserves, diets low in fats and oils and an excessive adrenal and thyroid activity.
Food allergies, chronic infections, a deficiency of natural light, lack of exercise and other factors can also contribute to depression. Dr. Daniel Amen, author of "Healing ADD", found that often depression is misdiagnosed as ADD.
In addition to a complete nutrition program, symptomatic remedies may help acute symptoms. These include SAMe (s-adenosyl-methionine), which should be given with extra folic acid, extra B-complex, especially vitamin B6, adrenal and thyroid support, St. John's Wort, dl-phenylalanine, l-tyrosine and others. Prescription medication may also be used with the supplement program if needed.