Imagine not being able to experience joy and happiness anymore doing the same activities that used to bring joy and happiness or being surrounded by those you love.
These problems are common in people who suffer from depression, which can manifest in many forms ranging from mild to severe and can significantly impact one’s quality of life.
Severe depression can lead to suicidal tendencies and contemplation of ending one’s life.
Conventional Treatment of Depression
Depression is typically treated with antidepressant medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), tricyclics or monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOs). Each of these classes of medication can cause a variety of side effects.
Functional Medicine Management of Depression
While there are effective nutritional and herbal treatments for symptomatic relief for depression, in Functional Medicine we strive to determine the cause of the depression and address these underlying causal factors.
A comprehensive approach to the management of depression must take into consideration many aspects of health, including gut barrier integrity and imbalances of gut flora, liver detoxification capacity and toxic burden, hormone imbalances, energy production capacity, nutrient status and immune imbalances which promote inflammatory states. More generally, Functional Medicine approaches depression by supporting normal physiology of the body which can impact brain function and may contribute to the development and progression of depression.
There are several areas of management of depression in the Functional Medicine approach:
- Restoring normal gut barrier integrity, digestion and gut microbial balance
- Supporting liver detoxification processes and decreasing toxic load
- Supporting restoration of physiologic hormone levels, including estrogen and progesterone levels throughout the monthly menstrual cycle in women
- Supporting restoration of brain neurotransmitters and neurotransmitter function responsible for mood and depression
- Restoring normal blood-brain barrier function
- Restoring healthy levels of nutrients in cases of nutritional deficiencies (especially vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, folate, essential fatty acids, vitamin D, minerals such as Mg, Zn, Fe and other key nutrients for the brain)
- Identifying and removing food sensitivities which can trigger neuroinflammation and depression
- Identifying and managing signs of chronic inflammation