DEPRESSION

Neuroanalysis Or Psychoanalysis?

The major anti-depressants are thought to work by affecting the balance and function of certain neurotransmitters. These include serotonin re-uptake inhibitors such as Prozac, Lustral, Seroxat which are designed to keep serotonin in circulation; adrenalin reuptake inhibitors such as Edronax, designed to keep adrenalin in circulation; monoamine oxidase inhibitors, which again help maintain adrenalin and dopamine levels and the tricyclic anti-depressants such as amitriptyline which also prevent adrenalin breakdown. Notice that most of these drugs block biochemical pathways. That is, they interfere with the body’s normal chemistry. The consequence is frequent side-effects and a need to get the dose just right to balance positive effects and the side effects. For example, Prozac, considered to be among the safest anti-depressants, has 45 known side-effects. The most common are nausea, nervousness, insomnia, headache, tremors, anxiety, drowsiness, dry mouth, excessive sweating and diarrhoea. According to a survey by US psychiatrist David Richman 10 to 25 per cent of people on Prozac experience all of these. An alternative approach to give the nutrients our bodies have evolved to use to make more of these neurotransmitters. Serotonin, for example, is made from the protein constituent tryptophan, in the presence of sufficient vitamin B3, B6 and zinc.

Tryptophan was shown to be an effective anti-depressant for some patients and tryptophan depletion can induce depression in recovered depressed patients. This has been well demonstrated by research at Oxford University’s Department of Psychiatry, in which 15 women with a history of depression were given a diet excluding or including tryptophan under double-blind conditions. Ten out of fifteen experienced clinically significant symptoms of depression on the tryptophan-free diet, while none experienced mood changes on the diet including tryptophan. Tryptophan itself is no longer available as a supplement, but one of its metabolites, 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is. Tryptophan-rich foods include fish, turkey, chicken, cottage cheese, avocados, bananas and wheat germ.

Another neurotransmitter deficiency associated with depression is adrenalin. An up and coming class of anti-depressant drugs are adrenalin reuptake inhibitors, such as Edronax. Adrenalin (and dopamine) is made from the amino acid tyrosine and controlled by niacin, folic acid and B12. Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Dr Priscilla Slagle, from the University of Southern California cured her own depression with such a combination of nutrients, taking tyrosine in the morning (which is more stimulating) and Tryptophan in the evening (which is more calming) plus other nutrients. She found this combination to be helpful for many of her patients.



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