I see many patients who struggle with mood disorder. Many have dealt with it their entire life. Others say it has only bothered them in recent times. It is often associated with weight issues.
Without a doubt…..hormone deficiencies can contribute to and even cause depression and anxiety. Often just balancing hormones resolves the affective disorder. Although those that have dealt with mood issues their entire life, improve with hormone supplementation, they frequently require additional management.
My approach to treating chronic mood disorder is strikingly similar to how I approach weight loss.
1. Balance hormones with bio-identical hormones paying particular attention to thyroid and adrenal function in addition to progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone. Thyroid is a topic that is complex and poorly understood by the general medical community. Doctor’s order TSH and sometimes free T4 to assess thyroid function. These labs are helpful; however, the most important thing to measure if you can only measure one thing is the free T3. Free T3 is the active thyroid hormone. You can have totally normal thyroid function with a normal T4 and TSH and still have low thyroid function. Adding thyroid hormone if appropriate can greatly improve mood disorder.
2. Maximize nutrition. I like to think of hormones as “tinker toy structures.” If you don’t have all the pieces….you can’t finish what you are building. In order for a person to build a healthy mind and body, they must have the building blocks. For instance, do you know that the thyroid needs vitamin D, good iron stores, iodine, selenium, zinc and multiple other nutrients to build thyroid hormone. In order for the brain to make neurotransmitters, it must have B12, B6, Folic acid and Magnesium. I find that depression and particularly anxiety, improve with a good quality B vitamin supplement and magnesium. Other nutrients that are important include the omega-3-fatty acids and the essential amino acids that make up proteins.
Supplying adequate protein is essential for the body to make neurotransmitters. Depression and anxiety is often related to poor absorption of nutrients from the gastrointestinal tract. This is either because of a poor diet, or because the stomach doesn’t have enough acid and enzymes to properly digest foods. It is very common for someone who is on an acid blocking medicine to suffer with mood disorder related to poor nutrition. Healing the gastrointestinal tract and improving the absorption of nutrients, is a necessary part of resolving affective disorders.
3. Sleep hygiene, often overlooked, is a major factor. Obstructive sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed. Lights on at night prevent the brain from making valuable neurotransmitters through the night.
4. Exercise done correctly is an antidepressant. Under exercise can contribute to unbalanced
hormones and mood disorders. Interestingly, overexercise can also cause problems with mood.
At BodyLogicMD of Cincinnati, I am so excited to watch my patient’s mood improve along with balanced hormones, healthy diet, proper activity, and adequate sleep.