Are your genes and environment making you depressed?
America is a depressed country. As of 2016, 16 % of Americans were taking antidepressants or other psychiatric drugs. Much of this is prescribed to compensate for a perceived neurotransmitter imbalance in two of our important brain chemicals, serotonin and dopamine. Yet little effort is actually directed to understanding why these chemicals may be out of balance, let alone even to know if they are excess or deficient. That itself can be important since a person can feel unwell if they make too much or too little of a particular neurotransmitter, and it can be difficult to determine what is actually happening.
Unfortunately, many psychiatric medications have the side effect of depleting our bodies of nutrients such as B vitamins that are needed to make healthy levels of these brain chemicals, thus feeding a vicious cycle. Add to that existing nutrient deficiencies or poor digestive health and it can spell trouble.
Many people know that depression and anxiety can ‘run in the family’ but today we are understanding more about the effects that genes have on our physical and emotional health. We know for example that some people do not make the important nutrients folate or methyl-B12 in adequate amounts, and for them consuming enriched or white flour products or cheap vitamin supplements can have a negative impact on brain chemistry. Or you may have trouble making other cofactors that are needed to make healthy brain chemicals due to gene ‘defects’.
The good news is that by understanding the factors that affect production of healthy brain chemicals, and by understanding our genetic weaknesses, we can devise a strategy to help support and optimize function, and perhaps be less reliant on medications that do not really address the root cause of what ails us.
In this short 4-minute video I discuss some of the genetic and environmental factors to consider if you or a loved one is struggling with emotional or cognitive issues.