Depression Testing & Natural Treatments

Depression, or a depressed mood, may in everyday English refer to a state of melancholia, unhappiness or sadness, or to a relatively minor downturn in mood that may last only a few hours or days. This is quite distinct from the medical diagnosis of clinical depression. However, if depressed mood lasts at least two weeks, and is accompanied by other symptoms that interfere with daily living, it may be seen as a symptom of clinical depression, dysthymia or some other diagnosable mental illness, or alternatively as sub-syndromal depression.

Depression is suffering, sometimes seen as mental echoes of physical pain. Other somatic expressions can be a sense of "dispirited", or "lagging" or being weighed down, and a heaviness in breathing, expressed as broken or despondent sighs. It may also be associated with apathy, boredom, hollowness and lack of any positive source of interest or joy.

External affective signs of depressed mood also include a physical hunching or stooping, or putting the head in the hands, and an appearance of being physically subdued, and flatness of speech.

Depression is a huge problem in this country, one this is usually treated by the medical community with a variety of mind altering drugs. While these can be very useful they are not for everybody, can cause unwanted side effects and often leave the underlying causes in place.

Natural medicine has a variety of tools for successfully treating depression. You may need to experiment a bit to find the right combination for you and at times specific tests are indicated. Listed below are some of the major natural remedies and treatments for depression.

Natural Supplements For Depression Treatment

5-HTP Supplements
Provide more raw material to the body's natural serotonin production process. There is a reasonable indication that 5-HTP may not be effective for those who haven't already responded well to an SSRI because of their similar function: SSRIs allow the brain to use its serotonin more effectively, while 5-HTP induces production of more serotonin.[citation needed]

Serotonin reuptake inhibitors work by recycling the limited amount of serotonin that is available in the nerve synapse. This may work for awhile but you are still working with a deficiency and merely juggling it, not replacing what is missing. 5-HTP works by increasing the supply of serotonin in the brain.

The pharmaceutical industry has responded to the serotonin crisis by creating a wide array of medications which seek to restore serotonin metabolism. A better approach may be to replete serotonin naturally by using its precursor, 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP). Naturally restoring serotonin levels may help promote healthy mood levels and may also reduce food cravings.*Pyridoxal-5-Phosphate (P5P), the activated form of vitamin B6, is included in this formula to support overall neurotransmitter metabolism.

5-HTP can be given as a stand alone remedy or in a combination product such as TravaCor by NeuroScience or 5-HTP Supreme by Designs For Health.

What is 5-HTP?
5 Hydroxytryptophan, made from the amino acid L-tryptophan with the help of Vitamin B6, is a precursor to serotonin production. The amino acid tryptophan can be found naturally in protein foods such as turkey and milk. Serotonin is a very important neurotransmitter known as "the feel good hormone". In the Central Nervous System (CNS), serotonin has been implicated in the regulation of sleep, depression, anxiety, aggression, appetite, temperature, sexual behavior, and pain sensation.

Why should I consider 5-HTP supplementation?
All serotonin used by brain cells must be made within the neurons, since serotonin cannot cross the blood-brain barrier. Therefore, the synthesis of serotonin is heavily dependent upon the availability of L-tryptophan within the CNS.

The production and transport of L-Tryptophan from the bloodstream into the CNS can be compromised by several factors including stress, elevated cortisol levels, vitamin B6 deficiency, and even high dosages (above 2,000 mg) of L-Tryptophan, which all stimulate the conversion of L-Tryptophan to kynurenine, lowering serum tryptophan levels.

According to research, 5 HTP allows for weight loss without dieting, reduces appetite, reduces cravings for carbohydrates, improves mood, helps diabetics to stay on their diets, improves fibromyalgia symptoms, frequency and severity of headaches and even helps protein digestion.

S-adenosyl methionine (SAM-e) is a derivative of the amino acid methionine that is found throughout the human body, where it acts as a methyl donor and participates in other biochemical reactions. It is available as a prescription antidepressant in Europe and an over-the-counter dietary supplement in the United States. Clinical trials have shown SAM-e to be as effective as standard antidepressant medication, with fewer side effects; however, some studies have reported an increased incidence of mania resulting from SAM-e use compared to other antidepressants. Its mode of action is unknown.

In our office we use SAM-e from Designs For Health due to its synergistic formula.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids (found naturally in oily fish, flax seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, and canola oil) have also been found to be effective when used as a dietary supplement (although only fish-based omega-3 fatty acids have shown antidepressant efficacy.

Our general recommended pick here is ProOmega from Nordic Naturals due to its dosage and purity.

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), available as a supplement in the U.S., raises serotonin levels.

We recommend sublingual bio-identical DHEA from BioMatrix.

Lithium Orotate
The amount of elemental lithium in each tablet is much lower than those in lithium carbonate pills. Because of this, blood tests are not required for people taking lithium orotate. The lithium is attached to an orotate ion, rather than to a carbonate ion. According to proponents of lithium orotate treatment, this allows the lithium to cross the blood-brain barrier more effectively, and significantly reduces the amount of lithium required in order for the lithium to have a therapeutic effect for use in combating depression and stabilizing bipolar moods.

American Biologics makes a 50 mcg Lithium.

St John's Wort
Hypericum perforatum] Traditionally used by 'wise women' and midwives for hundreds of years, to 'chase away the devil' of melancholia and anxiety. It is a mood-enhancing herbal substance which acts like an antidepressant and increases the availability of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine at the neuron synapses.[citation needed] Also popular for treating insomnia, mood swings, fatigue, PMS and menopause. Except under medical supervision, St. John's Wort should not be used with SSRIs or MAOIs due to the risk of serotonin syndrome.

There are variety of St John's Wort preparation depending on whether you prefer to use caps or liquids. For caps try HY-2 St John's Wort by Pacific BioLogic or if you prefer a liquid try St. John's Wort/Hypericum Liquid by Wise Women Herbals.

Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo Biloba Effective natural antidepressant said to stabilise cell membranes, inhibiting lipid breakdown and aiding cell use of oxygen and glucose - so subsequently a mental and vascular stimulant that improves neurotransmitter production. Also popular for treating mental concentration (such as for Alzheimer's and stroke patients).

The Ginkgo tree has long been utilized for long and healthy life; for centuries, Chinese and Japanese traditions have used ginkgo leaves to support the brain, heart, and lungs. The active components of Ginkgo biloba, the ginkgoheterosides and the terpene lactones, enhance the flow of oxygen and blood to the brain and improve transmission of nerve impulses, supporting mental acuity. Ginkgo biloba offers nutritional support to the vascular system by sustaining the strength and elasticity of blood vessels and capillaries.

There are multiple preparations of Ginkgo Biloba. For softgels try Ginkgo Phytosome by PhytoPharmica. If you prefer capsules you can try Ginkgo 32/9 80 mg by Pure Encapsulations.

Siberian Ginseng
Siberian Ginseng [Eleutherococcus senticosus] Although not a true panax ginseng it is a mood enhancement supplement against stress. Also popular for treating depression, insomnia, moodiness, fatigue, poor memory, lack of focus, mental tension and endurance.

There are many forms of ginseng. Our best advice to try the one that looks interesting to you. If you like the results, great. If not, try another one. We offer you a wide variety of professional grade ginseng products in liquids, powders or capsules.

Phenylalanine and Tyrosine

The amino acids phenylalanine and tyrosine have also a favorable effect on easy forms of depression. They enhance the neurotransmitters dopamine and noradrenalin.

These amino acids can be found in single formulations or in comprehensive formulas by NeuroScience.


Testing For Depression
Because depression can have many causes there are a variety of tests that can be run to try and find underlying causes. The major areas that are looked at are brain neurotransmitters, thyroid, adrenal and gut issues.

Adrenal Tests
When you think about the adrenal glands, you should think about stress. Stress can take many forms: taking an examination, recovering from a broken bone, running away from an invading army, or maintaining proper levels of energy substrates in the face of even mild starvation. For human males, there is even considerable stress associated with shopping.

The adrenal produces three major classes of hormones, each of which aid in dealing with the multitude of small and large stresses faced by animals and people almost daily. There is no doubt that at least two of these groups - glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids - are necessary for life.

Stress takes its tole on the adrenals leading to Stage I to Stage IV adrenal exhaustion. The following products and programs have proven successful in rebuilding the adrenal glands and restoring energy levels.

We strongly recommend the Adrenal Stress Index Test to see the current state of your adrenal glands. A second option is to combine Adrenal testing with Neurotransmitter testing. We find re-balancing and restoring the neuro-endocrine system and dramatically improve quality of life. Really


Brain Neurotransmitter Testing
Of all the conditions afflicting us these days perhaps the most common and most insidious is those that affect our brain and our mind. The brain is the most important organ in the body. It plays a primary role in controlling all other body functions. Loss of brain function can dramatically effect the quality of our lives.

The most common disorders of the brain are Attention Deficit Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. In addition to these is the gradual loss of memory that many experience as they age. Add to this the chronic fatigue, moodiness and depression that are so common and you can see how pervasive disorders of brain chemistry are. The GOOD NEWS is that many of these conditions are caused by imbalances in brain chemistry. Brain chemistry can be tested and in many cases treated successfully and without resorting to drugs!.

In addition to conditions affecting brain chemistry are conditions that affect the glands. The most common glandular disorders are those affecting the adrenal glands, thyroid and pituitary. An imbalance in any of these glands can lead to chronic fatigue, weight gain, depression, moodiness, insomnia and many more.


Thyroid Testing
When Should You Suspect Your Thyroid?
Your thyroid gland tells every cell in your body the rate at which it should function. Having too little hormone, called hypothyroidism, can lead to fatigue, hair loss, depression and much more.

This is a problem for more than 10 million Americans-of whom 8 million don't know it. Having too much hormone, called hyperthyroidism, races your engine, so you feel all revved up-as if you were burning out. This problem affects some 4.5 million Americans, but at least 600,000 of them have yet to be diagnosed.

Feeling tired and chilly, having constipation or losing your hair, can mean your thyroid is underactive-but these could also come from overwork, or aging, or a dozen other causes. Feeling totally tense and overworked could mean an overactive thyroid-or just plain stress.

Hypothyroidism is an often missing diagnosis and is often worth checking into. Although typically diagnosed through blood tests, we like to also underarm basal body temperature over 97.8 and an Iodine Loading Test available below.

Not Certain What To Do Next?
If you are uncertain as to which products or programs to use or which tests to take; or, if you would like additional help:

  • Contact us with a brief question.
  • Arrange a phone consultation with Dr. Forrest.
    Call ( 408) 354-4262