Your Medicine and Your Brain
Do you want to get off depression/anxiety medicine?
Did you know that there are many factors involved in depression and anxiety besides brain chemistry?
So much more than how much serotonin and dopamine you have in your brain goes into these chronic disorders.
Your brain needs to be set up with the right nutrients and amino acids in order to make its neurotransmitters and allow them to do their job.
It Starts With Genetics
Often times, you can see trends in family history that give way to a plethora of warning signs.
It may be that depression and anxiety is a tendency for you because it runs in your family.
In order to be more precise, you can utilize genetic testing as a way to understand your family history more accurately.
Then you can gage the information from your genetic results to decide whether or not depression and anxiety might develop into a problem for you. Genetic testing is a great start. Today we are going to explore a couple of other factors that affect depression and anxiety.
Food is Foundation
Food is also a foundation for brain health.
We’ve all heard the saying “we are what we eat,” and it’s absolutely true!
Serotonin and dopamine are made from amino acids derived from digested proteins. You need enough protein in order to make important neurotransmitters in your brain. If your diet is protein deficient or if you’re not digesting your protein well enough then you don’t have enough raw materials to make them.
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 about something.
If you have any sort of digestive dysfunction than this could be a problem related to depression and anxiety.
You want your body to be producing all the right bacteria for things to run smoothly. Good bacteria communicate with your gut via 100 million neurons which is surprisingly more than the spinal cord and the peripheral nervous system!
The Stress Factor
Stress is another big factor in determining how well we make our neurotransmitters and how well our brain functions.
We’re set up to deal with acute or temporary stress; it’s when it becomes long-term or chronic that we begin to have problems.
Sometimes, stress depletes what we need to make a sufficient amount of neurotransmitters. When this happens, it manifests as depression and anxiety in our body.
Chronic stress forces the adrenal glands to produce excess cortisol (our main stress hormone) which in turn leads to 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. On top of all this, stress causes inflammation in the brain which leads to depression.
How do we figure out what’s affecting you?
We can figure out what is affecting you by conducting functional laboratory tests.
These tests can identify how much serotonin, dopamine, and other important neurotransmitters your body is making.
They can also test for your 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 and avoid medication altogether if you haven’t already started.
If you can identify and correct the problem areas then you have the potential to eliminate the problem.
Some things can’t be changed such as a genetic variant but having the knowledge and ability to mediate those factors is a great start.
If you’d like more information or an appointment to get started understanding why you’re feeling depressed or anxious, please call (202) 244-6661 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Karen Threlkel.