Depression - not all in the mind
Depression isn’t a disease with a one cause, nor one treatment. For some the problem may be purely psychological, for others purely biochemical. Common biochemical imbalances that can induce depression include:
- Deficiencies of nutrients (vitamin B3, B6, folate, B12, C, zinc, magnesium, essential fatty acids)
- Neurotransmitter imbalances (serotonin, dopamine, adrenalin, histamine)
- Blood sugar imbalances (often associated with excessive sugar and stimulants)
- Allergies and sensitivities - the presence of one or more of these factors may worsen a person’s ability to cope with stress and thus be an underlying contributor to what might otherwise be considered depression of a psychological origin. Conversely, many depressed people fail to adequately nourish themselves. It’s a chicken or egg situation. What is known is that nutritional deficiency is more common in those with mental illness, especially in the elderly population. For example, research at Kings College Hospital found that 33 per cent of those with psychiatric disorders were deficient in folate , while a survey of 93 elderly patients found 73 were deficient in iron or B vitamins, especially folic acid. There is suggestion that those with mental health problems may need more, or absorb fewer nutrients. It has been demonstrated, for example, that schizophrenia patients require more vitamin C to attain normal blood levels than controls and more niacin to induce the normal vasodilation response than controls.