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Why do I feel this way?

Do you want to get off depression/anxiety medicine? Did you know there are other factors involved besides brain chemistry? It’s so much more than how much serotonin and dopamine you have in your brain; that’s the end result. You need to think about how to make those neurotransmitters in the first place so they can do their job.

It starts with genetics. Often you can see trends in family history that can give a warning sign that depression/anxiety may be a tendency for you. To be more precise you can even do genetic testing to see more accurately if this might develop into a problem for you.

Food is also a foundation for brain health. We’ve all heard the saying “we are what we eat” but it’s absolutely true! Serotonin and dopamine are made from amino acids derived from digested proteins. If your diet is protein deficient or beyond that you’re not digesting you protein well then you don’t have enough raw materials to make these important neurotransmitters.

Believe it or not your digestive tract makes about 90% of your serotonin. Have you ever had butterflies in your stomach or a “gut instinct”? This is your gut’s way of informing your brain of something. If you have any sort of digestive dysfunction then this could be a related problem for depression/anxiety; especially if you don’t have enough good bacteria. Good bacteria communicate with your gut via 100 million neurons which is more than the spinal cord and the peripheral nervous system.

Stress is another big factor in how well we make our neurotransmitters and how well our brain works. We’re set up to deal with acute or temporary stress; it’s when it becomes long-term or chronic that we have problems. Stress depletes what we need to make sufficient neurotransmitters and then we feel it as depression/anxiety. Chronic stress forces the adrenal glands to produce excess cortisol, our main stress hormone, which causes exhaustion, anxiety, and insomnia among other physiological changes. It also produces excessive amounts of the amino acid glutamine which creates free radicals that affect the brain. Plus stress causes inflammation in the brain which causes depression.

How do we figure out what’s affecting you? There are functional laboratory tests that can identify how much serotonin, dopamine, and other important neurotransmitters that your body is making as well as labs for digestive function, stress, and genetic testing. Functional laboratory testing can individualize treatment and correct the areas of dysfunction that may be causing or influencing how you feel. This approach can help you get off your medications or avoid medication if you haven’t already started. If you can identify and correct the problem areas then you have the potential to eliminate the problem. If some things can’t be changed such as a genetic variant then you at least have the knowledge and ability to mediate those factors better.

If you’d like more information or an appointment to get started understanding why you’re feeling depressed or anxious, please call Restorative Health at 202.244.6661 to schedule with Karen R. Threlkel, ND.