Depression – one size does not fit all

In a previous post (available here), we explored the gut-brain axis and the significant and sustainable improvements that are often achieved in respect of anxiety and depression, by simply removing from the diet the foods that typically cause the greatest harm, focusing on the consumption of nutrient dense wholefoods, implementing targeted lifestyle choices and even consuming therapeutic dosages of turmeric.

There are however times when this approach on its own does not deliver the desired outcomes, suggesting the presence of a more complicated picture.

Dr William Walsh has spent the past 30 years collecting data across tens of thousands of patients presenting with a range of mental disorders (including ADHD, autism, depression, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease) and has created a comprehensive database of nutrient imbalances that can fuel these conditions. Dr Walsh’s work is based on the premise that we are all biochemically individual and that nutrient imbalances and/or the presence of toxins that can cause significant disruption in brain biochemistry. Interestingly Dr Walsh in his book ‘Nutrient Power – Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain’ describes a surprising finding that ‘nutrient overloads usually cause more mischief than deficiencies’. Dr Walsh goes onto to describe 5 ‘depression biotypes’, which have very specific symptoms and traits: These are:

  • ‘Undermethylation’ – very sensitive to the methyl/folate levels in the brain and must avoid folate/folic acid, choline, manganese and copper supplementation. Usually respond well to antidepressant medications and improve with magnesium, vitamin D, B6, tryptophan, A, C and E.
  • ‘Folate deficiency’ – typically intolerant to antidepressants. Must avoid tryptophan, copper and inositol. Respond well to folate, B12, B3, choline, manganese, zinc, B6, C and E.
  • ‘Copper overload’ – 96% female – mixed reaction to antidepressants. Must avoid copper. Improve with zinc, manganese, glutathione, B6, C and E.
  • ‘Pyrrole disorder’ – significant zinc and B6 deficiencies which are often genetically driven (family history of depression). Require high doses of zinc and B6.
  • ‘Toxics’ – typically caused by excess levels of lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium. This type is difficult to diagnose – typically diagnosed by exclusion of the other types.

Clearly treating depression with a ‘one size fits all’ SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) drugs and/or random supplementation is too simplistic and may in certain situations actually do harm. Tailored nutritional therapy interventions, under the guidance of a suitably qualified healthcare practitioner, can be an extremely powerful tool when it comes to implementing a comprehensive strategy to help optimally manage depression.