Treat Depression by Correcting Metabolic Imbalances

The mental health of children and adolescents is now on the forefront of medical providers who are seeing an increase in depression and suicide ideation. With early intervention, many are helped through cognitive behavioral therapy, together with mindfulness stress reduction, regular exercise and alternative therapies like acupuncture and yoga, hoping to avoid medication unless necessary.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have completed an interesting study of young people with significant depression who are not responding to therapy and medication.

“Identifying and treating metabolic deficiencies in patients with treatment-resistant depression can improve symptoms and in some cases even lead to remission, according to new research from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine published online today in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

“What’s really promising about these new findings is that they indicate that there may be physiological mechanisms underlying depression that we can use to improve the quality of life in patients with this disabling illness,” said David Lewis, M.D., Thomas Detre Professor and Chair of Pitt’s Department of Psychiatry.”
Correcting the metabolic imbalance could be as easy as providing a supplement to take to restore levels to normal, leading to relief of depressive symptoms. In the study, metabolites that were found to be lacking were intermediary chemicals naturally occurring in the body which promote the healthy function of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are the chemical bridges in our brains which make the connections for pain and pleasure, thought processes and our responses. If the metabolites are imbalanced, the neurotransmitters can’t do their jobs.

“In the published trial, the researchers looked for metabolic abnormalities in 33 adolescents and young adults with treatment-resistant depression and 16 controls. Although the specific metabolites affected differed among patients, the researchers found that 64 percent of the patients had a deficiency in neurotransmitter metabolism, compared with none of the controls.

In almost all of these patients, treating the underlying deficiency improved their depression symptoms, and some patients even experienced complete remission. In addition, the further along patients progress in the treatment, the better they are getting, Dr. Pan added.” (see original article in the American Journal of Psychiatry)
Many of the patients, whose metabolite levels were measured in their cerebral spinal fluid, were found to have deficiencies of folate, which when corrected through treatment with folinic acid, relieved their symptoms.
This is a huge benefit to the individuals who suffer significant impairment and inability to function on a day to day basis. The impact of improving individual mental health will also be felt within families, and society.
The downside is undergoing a spinal tap with which to obtain cerebral spinal fluid, draw blood and take a urine sample. All specimens provided metabolite measurements from which to determine if imbalances were present. Hopefully, more mental health practitioners will work together with neurologists to make these tests more available and collaborate for treatment.
About Candace

Candy Dye is a Nurse Practitioner and teacher that loves everything about health, wellness, looking beautiful, and being with people who enjoy life and love to have fun!

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