Mental illnesses indirectly affect all Canadians through personal illness, illness of a family member or illness of a colleague. Health Canada estimates that 20% of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness during their lifetime and the country spends over 7 billion dollars per year on mental health care. Antidepressants are the drug of choice to treat depression and other mental health disorders but they often don't treat the root cause of the disease and leave a person having to deal with multiple side-effects. Before taking an antidepressant, explore the following to make sure they are not the cause of your depression.
Ferritin is the way iron is stored in the body. When individuals have decreased iron level they tend to have low energy and a lack of concentration which may be misdiagnosed as depression. Make sure you have appropriate iron stores before taking an anti-depressant.
Vitamin B12 is crucial for the nervous system and for energy. Humans get B12 mostly from meat and vegetarians usually have to supplement with it unless they consume abundant amounts of nutritional yeast. B12 deficiency can mimic symptoms of depression and should be tested before taking an anti-depressant.
The best source of vitamin D is the sun. Canadians are susceptible to having low vitamin D levels, especially in the winter. Low vitamin D may lead to fatigue and altered mood. Doctor's don't routinely test for this vitamin since it isn't covered by OHIP but you are allowed to ask for it and pay for it yourself. The average price for the blood test is $30.00 and NutriChem recommends getting it done once a year.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, also known as a ''brain chemical''. It is speculated that lower than normal levels of serotonin cause depression. Metabolites of serotonin can be detected through the urine and this test is offered by NutriChem. Anti-depressants increase the acting effect of serotonin but eventually deplete a person's natural stores. If low serotonin is your root cause, amino acid therapy might be more beneficial.
A person with an underactive thyroid can display symptoms of fatigue, poor concentration, weight gain, etc. All of these symptoms can mimic depression. Have your doctor routinely monitor your thyroid gland by testing TSH, Free T3 and T4. The optimal levels of these hormones are highly debatable in Canada but a TSH under 3.0 is optimal.
For more information on solving your depression, visit a NutriChem clinic and get the BCB test.
DISCLAIMER: Individual results will vary: everyone is different, and everyone’s protocol and lifestyle recommendations will be individualized to their specific needs. NutriChem and its staff do not offer medical advice online. Please call or email one of our clinics to set up an appointment with a clinician or nutritionist, or call or come into the pharmacy to speak with a pharmacist.