How Does Serotonin Affect Depression – Half a year ago, I observed and studied the work of William Walsh, PhD, a brilliant researcher and scientist who has been researching and working with mentally ill patients for over 38 years. While he worked with them, he regularly took blood and urine samples from more than 30,000 patients and tested the samples, allowing him to identify nutritional deficiencies found in psychiatric, mental and often depressed patients.
For this multi-part blog, I would like to focus on reconsidering Walsh’s work and, in this regard, depression is closely related to certain nutritional imbalances in the body, which can affect overall functioning this. The mind and ultimately, can lead to mental illness. Finally, we’ll look at simple nutritional recommendations to help with the 5 most common causes of eating depression.
- 1 How Does Serotonin Affect Depression
- 2 Serotonin Receptors And Suicide, Major Depression, Alcohol Use Disorder And Reported Early Life Adversity
- 3 Leaky Gut: The Connection Between Gut Health And Depression
How Does Serotonin Affect Depression
Over 20 years, Walsh collected 300,000 chemical samples from 2,800 depressed patients. When he analyzed his data, it turned out that 2,800 individuals could be reclassified into 5 main subtypes.
Neurobiological Mechanisms In Major Depressive Disorder
We found that undermethylation depression is a type of abnormal balance of methyl and folate (vitamin B9). Walsh’s data shows that these patients show low calcium, vitamin D and magnesium. They will benefit from increased serotonin production through nutritional support that provides tryptophan, vitamin B6, 5-HTP, and antioxidant vitamins A, C and E.
In this subtype, individuals do not respond to major medications called selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These patients present with low folate (B9) levels and benefit from supporting their overall nutritional status with B3, B5, B6, B12, choline, manganese, zinc and antioxidant vitamins A, C and E.
The analysis of Dr. Walsh that 96 percent of the samples were from women and that copper changes the amount of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. As dopamine and norepinephrine levels change, so do a person’s mood and anxiety symptoms. Patients report that their mood generally responds to serotonin-enhancing medications but that their anxiety also increases. Copper is regulated by a protein called metallothionein, which can be supplemented by nutrition with adequate levels of zinc, manganese and the antioxidant nutrients glutathione, B6, vitamins C and E.
The pyrrole type has low levels of serotonin, dopamine, and GABA, which contribute to depression and anxiety. These types of patients are those who have experienced severe emotional or physical trauma. Low zinc and vitamin B6 status are important nutritional imbalances and should be corrected as well as improved antioxidant status with selenium, glutathione, vitamins C, E and other phytonutrients.
Types Of Antidepressants And How Do They Work
He found toxic metal poisoning in 5% of Dr. 2,800 patients. Walsh. His team discovered high levels of mercury, lead, cadmium or arsenic. Metals reduce the brain’s ability to function by inhibiting the production of mitochondrial energy (the power plant of the cell), which is the main source of energy in every cell in the body. Heavy metals alter neurotransmitter levels, damage nerve sheaths, destroy chemicals called reactive oxygen species and deplete antioxidant stores of glutathione, vitamins A, C, E and selenium.
In our next blog we will look at the details of each reason to help provide a solid diet plan to help alleviate depression.
Remember that understanding the root cause is the most important part of fighting chronic illness and that with enough study, patience and strict adherence to nutrition, even mental illnesses can be cured! Andrew Neff does not work for, consult with, participate in, or receive work from. funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations other than his academic appointment.
There’s a turkey/sleepiness myth: Eating too much juicy turkey makes you feel tired because it contains an amino acid called tryptophan. This molecule travels to the brain, where it is converted into a neurotransmitter called serotonin, which is then converted into a hormone called melatonin. Voila! sleep
Causes Of Depression: Beyond Chemical Imbalances And Genetics
But science and the Internet agree: Turkey’s tryptophan isn’t to blame for your post-feast nap. All protein sources and even vegetables contain some tryptophan. Turkey is not special in this regard.
So the turkey sleep myth is dying, but other myths about tryptophan’s effects on the brain are catching on. Some people look to tryptophan supplements as an unconventional treatment for depression. Others wonder whether eating foods high or low in tryptophan may be beneficial for influencing mood. Recently, some scientists have even suggested that gut bacteria cause mood changes by making or breaking down tryptophan.
This tryptophan/mood connection is an area of ongoing research. And while some are affected by tryptophan’s potency, it’s unclear whether the euphoria is deserved.
For example, in 2000, researchers found that when people ate a protein isolate high in tryptophan, they felt less stressed while doing math problems.
Chemical Imbalance: Symptoms, Causes, And Treatments
However, placebo-controlled clinical trials, in general, have not shown an optimal relationship. Some studies have found that supplementing with pure tryptophan did not benefit people with depression. Some studies have even looked at what happens when you remove tryptophan from people’s diets, but it has no effect.
Along with human studies, the biology of tryptophan has been well studied in rats. Research from the early 1970s showed that taking tryptophan supplements can boost serotonin, a neurotransmitter historically associated with feelings of well-being and happiness.
Since then, scientists have learned many interesting facts about serotonin. For example, there are 14 different receptors for serotonin, and they are found throughout the brain.
SSRIs block the ability of neurons to reabsorb serotonin, leaving more of the neurotransmitter in the brain to affect other receptors. Blamb/Shutterstock.com
Serotonin Receptors And Suicide, Major Depression, Alcohol Use Disorder And Reported Early Life Adversity
Researchers have learned how this system is affected by drugs, but not with precision. For example, drugs such as antidepressant selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors – more widely known as SSRIs – do not target individual receptors and are not confined to specific areas of the brain. Instead, SSRIs, the most popular of which is Prozac, bluntly increase serotonin everywhere.
It’s inexplicable why, in my mind, it’s hard to believe that SSRIs work. Here’s an analogy: Say you’re Jeff Bezos and you want to increase Amazon’s revenue by speeding up your deliveries. So you decide to speed up all the delivery vehicles. From now on, the speed of each truck will increase by 5%. It could be a stroke of logistical genius, or it could, perhaps more likely, end in chaos. As serotonin increases throughout the brain, this blunt approach may not be ideal.
Similarities aside, whether SSRIs affect people’s mood is an empirical question, and some research supports the idea that these drugs work. However, especially recently, their effectiveness has come under intense scrutiny. Some recent reviews cite 30 years of studies and question the clinical value of SSRIs, while others believe that these drugs improve symptoms of depression.
It’s complicated, and there’s still some disagreement, but most psychiatrists agree that SSRIs aren’t effective for everyone. These drugs are not psychotropic drugs.
Leaky Gut: The Connection Between Gut Health And Depression
In light of all this, I often find myself asking whether psychological researchers need 73 studies on whether tryptophan deficiency affects mood.
When it comes to understanding the relationships between gut bacteria and the brain, or the great challenge of understanding and treating mental illness, should researchers really be thinking about tryptophan?
It appears to be true that, like SSRIs, increasing tryptophan has a broad effect on serotonin. It’s certainly possible that cranking up serotonin can affect mood, and therefore boosting tryptophan can do the same. But it’s also possible that manipulating something as complex as human emotion requires a little more nuance.
Psychological research has long moved away from the idea that your brain is a bag of chemicals. Modern neuroscientists demand little explanation. From this point of view, I am skeptical of the notion that tryptophan is a treatment for depression that requires psychosis. Not only has the empirical research yielded poor results, but the theory itself is not very compelling.
Research Concludes Low Serotonin Does Not Cause Depression. What Does That Mean For Ssris?
Serotonin, seemingly loaded with psychoactive potential, has long fascinated psychological researchers. But what the past half century has shown is that the neuroscience of human emotion is not simple. In order to promote lasting changes in mental health, scientists may need a little more respect for the complex emotional beings that we all are.
So no, a big turkey dinner, loaded with delicious tryptophan, probably isn’t the neurochemical driver for your Thanksgiving mood.
Write an essay and join a growing community of more than 170,800 academics and researchers from 4,735 institutions. An important paper raises the question: Why do so many people believe in the chemical imbalance theory of depression?
In a recent landmark paper in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, authors Joanna Moncrieff and colleagues debunk the theory (or myth) of depression as a chemical imbalance of serotonin, concluding their meta-analysis of relevant scientific literature: “A There is no evidence of a link between low serotonin levels or activity and depression.
Why Serotonin Makes You Happy (or Very, Very Sad)
This is the main finding of the authors.
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