Affecting more than 40 million people, or nearly 1 in 5 adults, anxiety disorders are the most common mental diagnosis in the United States. Let that just sink in for a second…
It’s is so common that I find it strange when one of my patients does NOT have an anxiety disorder or is NOT on an SSRI (like Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, Paxil) or the highly addictive benzodiazepine (Xanax or Klonopin).
Here’s the thing:
While it’s clear that there can be certain childhood experiences, traumas, and/or stressful circumstances in a person’s individual environment that can lead down the path to depression and anxiety, and it’s possible that these stressors somehow lead to deficiencies in various neurochemicals, I think to a certain extent, we ALL have something in our lives that could truly lead to feeling depressed and anxious.
All of us who may have experienced stress, abuse or trauma do NOT necessarily have anxiety and depression.
So, what are the causes of anxiety and depression and why are so many people hooked on Xanax and Prozac?
Current thinking about anxiety and depression favors a problem in the SEROTONIN and GABA brain pathways. These are chemicals in the brain that must be balanced to create a calm, peaceful, and overall happy person. That, and a freezer full of Häagen Daz, and a world where there’s no such thing as a Check Engine light. The medications commonly used to treat anxiety and depression target those neurotransmitters. The problem is benzo’s (the Xanax and Klonopins of the world) are liberally prescribed to millions of people each year and have the following qualities:
- Are highly addictive
- Increase the risk of suicide
- Increase dementia
- Increase all cause mortality
SSRI’s are not a lot better. As a matter of fact, they can rapidly deplete the brain of these brain chemicals, ultimately becoming less effective, and often with significant withdrawal issues when one attempts to get off of them.
And here’s a newsflash:
We use antidepressants as first line therapy thinking that they are highly effective, yet according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine this may not be the case. There is an inherent bias to publish studies with POSITIVE results while NOT publishing studies showing antidepressants with NEGATIVE or questionable benefit. In fact, although 50% of the studies examined by the FDA regarding antidepressants showed some benefit and 50% showed NO benefit, 94% of studies published showed positive results. In other words the literature overstates the benefit if these medications. In reality it’s a 50-50 chance antidepressants work. That’s is no better than placebo.
What if we look at the root causes of anxiety and depression and try to fix those causes? Or put another way…..Anxiety is not a deficiency of PRESCRIPTION DRUGS!!
Looking at SEROTONIN DEFICIENCY specifically you want to consider ONE or MORE of the following underlying causes:
- Inadequate Diet: lacking key substances and cofactors needed to make serotonin
- Stress (diet, exercise, sleep problems)
- Gut infections (like yeast overgrowth and nasty bacteria)
- Immune system imbalance
- Genetic susceptibilities
- Hormone imbalance
- Food sensitivities
- Omega 3 deficiency
- Sleep disorders
- Substance Abuse (includes caffeine and alcohol)
- Physical or Emotional Abuse
- Eating disorders
One of the easiest things to identify and correct are nutritional deficiencies
Most serotonin production is REDUCED by the lack of the necessary building blocks and cofactors. To make serotonin – the happy brain chemical) you need:
- L-tryptophan or 5 HTP — an amino acid
- Methyl-folate (the active form of folate)
- Vitamin B6, B12, B3 (Niacin)
- Zinc – a mineral
- Magnesium – a mineral
- Lithium (the mineral, not the drug)
- Vitamin D
Have any of you been checked for these minerals and vitamins prior to being placed on a psychoactive drug?
Probably not. Is it possible that you may have one or more of these deficiencies? Likely yes.
Have any of your treating health care providers asked you about ANY of the root causes listed above?
- What’s your diet like?
- What’s your sleep like?
- How much caffeine or alcohol do you drink?
- What foods do you react to?
- Any intestinal issues?
- Checked your hormones thoroughly?
- Screened you for environmental toxins?
- Evaluated your genetics to determine your susceptibilities in your neurotransmitter pathways and what you can do to correct possible imbalances?
Well, there seems to be a lot you can look into prior to starting a medication that may not be any better than placebo or may lead to addiction and increased mortality rate.
I’m not saying these medications don’t have their place.
I’m not saying they don’t help you get through your day.
I’m saying that there may be MANY reasons for what you are experiencing and addressing these issues may help you avoid long term medication use or deterioration of your mental and physical health.
Tune in next time to learn how we determine if you have these deficiencies with a functional approach.
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For more information about my wellness programs and my practice, check out my website drsadaty.com. Hey Look! You are already here…
Ready for the legal disclaimer? Information offered here is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. As with any health recommendations, please contact your doctor to be sure any changes you wish to consider are safe for you!