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What You Need to Know About the Root Causes of Anxiety and Depression

Updated: Jun 26

Anxiety and depression are so widespread that the majority of us in the modern world suffers from at least some form of mild anxiety and/or depression.  More and more people are turning to SSRIs and medication to help control the effects that mental health issues have on our lives.  The pharmaceutical industry in the US makes over 10 BILLION dollars annually on mental health drugs alone and it's only increasing. 

In our modern world we have easy access to unhealthy processed foods; phones, technology, and social media that we can become wrapped up in; many of us are over-worked and constantly on the go; we're exposed to more and more toxins and chemicals in our environment and foods; and we're less connected to nature and those around us.  It's no wonder anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues are so prevalent.

The truth is mental health issues like depression and anxiety are usually due to many different factors.  Doing what we can to control the lifestyle factors that can be contributing to our mental health is important.  Things like eating mostly whole real foods, getting enough sleep and exercise, cutting out as many toxins and chemicals as possible, getting out in nature, surrounding ourselves with people we enjoy being with, doing things we love and are passionate about, setting boundaries, reducing stress, and limiting screen time.  All of these things can help. 

In addition to the lifestyle factors, it's vital to support our neurotransmitters.  Neurotransmitters are our bodies chemical messengers.  Our neurotransmitters play a huge role in our mood and low levels can contribute to both depression and anxiety.  Serotonin is known as the "feel good" neurotransmitter.  It helps to regulate our mood and sleep, among other processes.  Dopamine is responsible for motivation, focus, pleasure, and reward.  GABA helps regulate anxiety and stress.

So how do we support our neurotransmitters?

We first need to run the tests that will give us the information we need to be able to see what's going on with our neurotransmitters.  A genetics test is super important when it comes to knowing how your neurotransmitters should be functioning. The MAOA and COMT genes give insight into how you're probably breaking down serotonin and dopamine respectively.

An Organic Acids test will show your levels of both serotonin and dopamine.  In correlating genetics and Organic Acids, we can tell if we have the co-factors (nutrients) and precursors that are needed for our body to make its neurotransmitters.  From an Organic Acid test, we can also see our level of quinolinic acid.  Quinolinic acid is a metabolite of tryptophan, but it's a neurotoxin.  High levels of quinolinic acid can lead to depression, since it decreases serotonin. 

The levels of your sex hormones and adrenals could also be contributing to depression and/or anxiety.  It's important to look at the DUTCH test to see not only the levels of your sex hormones, but also how they are metabolized (broken down).  The DUTCH test also shows the level of free cortisol and metabolized cortisol in the body.  All of these indicators are windows into factors that could be contributing to depression and anxiety.  If the levels of your sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone--especially for men) are low, depression can present.  Low levels of progesterone along with higher levels of estrogen and/or testosterone can show up as anxiety.  For adrenals, low free cortisol can cause depression and high free cortisol can cause anxiety.

Thyroid function could also be contributing to depression and/or anxiety as well, although it's usually the other factors more so than the thyroid.  Hypothyroid (not enough thyroid hormones) can contribute to depression and hyperthyroid (too much thyroid hormones) can contribute to anxiety.  It's important to run a full thyroid panel (total and free T3 and T4, TSH, reverse T3, TPO, and TPG) to get a complete picture of how your thyroid is functioning.

As you can see there are many different root causes for depression and anxiety and chances are it's more than one factor that you're experiencing.  I'm sure you can see how important it is to run the tests, so that you're not guessing what it is that's causing your depression and/or anxiety. To learn more about all the tests you should run to get to the root causes of your health issues, read my blog post titled 6 Functional Labs That Get to the Root Causes.

Want more info about healing from health issues?  Click here to sign up for my free video series. If you're looking for a practitioner and want to contact me or sign up for a free 20-minute health assessment, click here to visit my website.


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