In this multi-part article I will be discussing the United States most commonly diagnosed mental disorders that can be treated with nutritional therapy. The majority of the information contained in these next few articles comes from the scientific article Nutritional Therapies for Mental Disorders written by Shaheen E Lakhan and Karen F Vieira from Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation, Los Angeles, CA. This article was published in Nutrition Journal 2008, 7:2 and can be read in full at ...
Currently, approximately 1 in 4 adult Americans have been diagnosed with a mental disorder, which translates into about 58 million affected people [1]. Though the incidence of mental disorders is higher in America than in other countries, a World Health Organization study of 14 countries reported a worldwide prevalence of mental disorders between 4.3 percent and 26.4 percent [2]. In addition, mental disorders are among the leading causes for disability in the US as well as other countries. Common mental health disorders include mood disorders, anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorders, eating disorders, attention deficit disorder/attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD), and autism. However, the four most common mental disorders that cause disabilities are major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) [3,4].

Typically, most of these disorders are treated with prescription drugs, but many of these prescribed drugs cause unwanted side effects. For example, lithium is usually prescribed for bipolar disorder, but the high-doses of lithium that are normally prescribed causes side effects that include: a dulled personality, reduced emotions, memory loss, tremors, or weight gain [5,6]. These side effects can be so severe and unpleasant that many patients become noncompliant and, in cases of severe drug toxicity, the situation can become life threatening.

As stated in the above mentioned article, the US has the highest prevalence of mental disorders, 26.4 percent. Why is this? Are we not the most civilized, health conscious nation? How is it that we have such a high incidence of mental disorders when countries like China have as low an incidence rate as only 4%? They have harsher work conditions, over crowding, and a good portion of their population was starving not that long ago. How is it that they have better mental health than we do? Well apparently it's the fault of our ever deteriorating diet in the US.

Researchers have observed that the prevalence of mental health disorders has increased in developed countries in correlation with the deterioration of the Western diet [7]. Previous research has shown nutritional deficiencies that correlate with some mental disorders [8,9]. The most common nutritional deficiencies seen in mental disorder patients are of omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that are precursors to neurotransmitters [10-16]. Compelling population studies link high fish consumption to a low incidence of mental disorders; this lower incidence rate has proven to be a direct result of omega-3 fatty acid intake [10,17,18]. One to two grams of omega-3 fatty acids taken daily is the generally accepted dose for healthy individuals, but for patients with mental disorders, up to 9.6 g has been shown to be safe and efficacious [19-21]. Western diets are usually also lacking in fruits and vegetables, which further contributes to vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

This article will focus on the nutritional deficiencies that are associated with mental disorders and will outline how dietary supplements can be implemented in the treatment of several disorders (see Table 1 for an overview). The mental disorders and treatments covered in this review do not include the broad and complex range of disorders, but however focuses on the four most common disorders in order to emphasize the alternative or complementary nutritional options that health care providers can recommend to their patients.

Major Depression
I dont think I have ever suffered from major depression but I was diagnosed with the 'baby blues', or post partum depression, after having my daughter Elsa. I was prescribed Zoloft while undergoing nutritional therapy. This was not discussed in the scientific article I read, but vitamin D and Iron deficiencies can cause depression, or depression like symptoms. This was the course of treatment my physician used to treat my depression. I wish she has just used the nutritional therapy. Taking Zoloft helped with certain symptoms, but had many side effects ranging from the annoying to the down right dangerous and scary. Zoloft made me drowsy and I was prone to fits of yawning every day around 6 pm whether I was tired or not. I had a sudden and total lack of interest in sex or sexual touch. The one side effect I experienced only once, but that was the most terrifying one of all was a bout of suicidal thoughts. It clearly states on the warning label of nearly all anti-depressants that it may cause an increase in suicidal thoughts or tendencies in those younger than 25 but this hardly prepares you for what it can do. One evening I was suddenly overcome by a flood of suicidal thoughts. I have never in my life had any serious thoughts of suicide or any real intent to harm myself or others but that night I could do nothing to take my mind off of the myriad ways I could kill myself. I had absolutely no desire to act on any of these impulses nor did I have any desire to even think about such things but try as I might I could only distract myself from these thoughts for a few minutes at a time.  It was the most scared I have ever been in my life. I had no control of my thoughts. Never again will I subject myself to an anti-depressant unless I am seriously suicidal before taking it.

So how can you treat depression without taking drugs that have the potential to worsen your symptoms? The scientific article discusses this:In addition to omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B (e.g., folate), and magnesium deficiencies have been linked to depression [9,13,14]. Randomized, controlled trials that involve folate and B12 suggest that patients treated with 0.8 mg of folic acid/day or 0.4 mg of vitamin B12/day will exhibit decreased depression symptoms [9]. In addition, the results of several case studies where patients were treated with 125 to 300 mg of magnesium (as glycinate or taurinate) with each meal and at bedtime led to rapid recovery from major depression in less than seven days for most of the patients [14]. 

Tryptophan, tyrosine, GABA, and SAM are also listed as supplements that can aid in the relief of depression.

If you suspect that you are sufffering from depression and have easy access to a doctor please discuss these nutritional therapies with your doctor as possible forms of treatment in the stead of traditional anti-depressants. In cases of severe depression it may be necessary to start on an anti-depressant while undergoing nutritional therapy. Any time an anti-depressant is prescribed it is vitally important to have follow up appointments to monitor your response to the medication. If you are already on an anti-depressant or other medication be sure to talk to your doctor before starting a nutritional therapy as some supplements may alter or interfere with the effects of the medication(s) you are on. If you are not on any prescriptions and do not have easy access to a doctor then try each of the supplements, one at a time, for a period of 2 weeks, noting any changes in depression symptoms. You may find that more than one of the supplements has a positive effect on your mood. Use whichever one, or a combination of them, to treat your symptoms. I suggest trying each of them one at a time to begin with to rule out any possible allergies, negative reactions, or non-responsiveness to the treatment. 
5/31/2016 12:17:29 am

I am a husband and a father. I have been blessed with a wonderful wife and two great kids; a boy and a girl. My personal life cannot be any better and I thank God for that.


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