Causes of Mood Disorders

CAUSES OF MOOD DISORDERS

STRESS

Multiple factors can contribute to a mood disorder. Emotional and physical stress can add up and lead to an imbalance in the brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that control a healthy mood. It is not only normal but necessary to feel stress at times, and to let this stress create a different emotional state, in order to deal with difficult events. If you did not feel fearful when confronted with a life-threatening situation, you would not be able to react and keep yourself safe. However, if stress is continuous and severe, alterations in mood or mental functioning can become more problematic. Stress at work or in relationships, or financial stress, can take a serious toll on your energy, and can be a cause of depression or anxiety. People with underlying genetic susceptibilities to mental health disorders (or other illness) can become more sick when under physical or emotional stress. We can test your adrenal hormones, such as cortisol, to determine whether persistent stress is a major component of your mood disorder.

THYROID HORMONE IMBALANCE

The thyroid gland is located in the front of your throat, and produces hormones that keep your body energized, warm, and boost your metabolism. If your thyroid gland cannot produce enough thyroid hormone (a condition called hypothyroidism), you will start to feel fatigued, sluggish, cold, and are likely to gain weight more easily. These symptoms can look like the symptoms of depression, so it is important to have your thyroid function tested to determine whether that is a cause of the mood problems.

If your thyroid gland is over-producing thyroid hormone (a condition called hyperthyroidism), the result is feelings of nervousness, heart palpitations, excessive heat, and other symptoms that can be confused with the symptoms of an anxiety disorder. By testing your thyroid function, these conditions can be ruled out.

VITAMIN DEFICIENCY

A deficiency of certain nutrients can cause feelings of depression or other mood disorders. Research studies have shown that high doses of fish oil, which is rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, can help to reduce symptoms of depression. Some other nutrient deficiencies that can cause mood problems include:

  • Vitamin B12
  • Folic acid
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
  • Iron

Your doctor can test for vitamin deficiencies that might be causing your symptoms.

ADRENAL FATIGUE

Your adrenal glands are located above your kidneys, and are responsible for producing hormones to control stress, blood pressure, and reproduction. If you are under significant stress for an extended period of time (more than a week), your adrenal glands can start to have difficulty producing enough of the hormones that control stress. This is called adrenal fatigue, which can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, or fatigue. Over time, adrenal stress can also cause weight gain, blood sugar imbalances, and insomnia. Your adrenal function can be tested, and hormonal balance can be restored with natural or synthetic supplementation.

ENVIRONMENTAL TOXICITY

Chemicals such as solvents, pesticides, and herbicides can enter our body through the food we eat, the air we breathe, or our drinking water. These chemicals, along with heavy metals such as mercury and lead, can disrupt nerve function and cause fatigue, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, and many symptoms similar to depression. We can test your environmental toxicity levels to determine whether this is a cause of your symptoms.

FOOD ALLERGIES

You may be allergic to one or more foods and not even know it. We can develop an inflammatory allergic response to the foods we eat. This inflammatory response can lead to headaches, fatigue, digestive problems, skin rashes, mood disorders, autoimmune conditions, and much more.

There are different types of food allergies or intolerances:

  • IgE food allergies
  • IgG food allergies
  • Food intolerances

Immediate food allergies are also called IgE (immunoglobulin E) allergies. IgE allergies occur within seconds to minutes of eating the food to which you are allergic. Therefore, people with IgE food allergies are usually very aware of the foods they are allergic to, because of this quick response.

IgG (immunoglobulin G) food allergies are delayed in their effects. You can eat a food to which you have a food an IgG food allergy, and not have a negative response for up to 72 hours! This makes it very difficult to determine which foods are causing your symptoms. For this type of allergy, testing is helpful to determine the foods to which you are reacting.

A food intolerance is the inability to digest a certain food because of a lack of the enzymes necessary to do so. Lactose intolerance is an example of this. Another example is gluten intolerance, a part of celiac disease. Celiac disease is a condition in which the person is incapable of breaking down gluten (found in wheat and several other grains). This is different from a gluten allergy, in which a person can break down gluten, but has an allergic response to the gluten proteins once it is digested.

More serotonin is produced in the intestines than anywhere else in the body. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of happiness, relaxation, and focus. If our digestive tract is inflamed and irritated by food allergens, our serotonin can become depleted, leading to mood disorders, ADD/ADHD, food cravings, PMS, and other problems.

Over 50% of our immune system is located in our digestive tract. Food allergies are a dysfunction of the immune system. Your immune cells can overreact to certain foods, causing an inflammatory response. Food allergies can begin as a result of stress or damage in the digestive tract, eating a certain food too often, or a food being introduced too early in infancy. Some food allergies or intolerances are passed on from our parents.

In a healthy digestive tract, the cells of the intestinal lining are linked closely together, allowing only small, digested food particles through into the bloodstream. Irritation to the intestinal lining can occur from alcohol, sugar, antibiotics, processed food, and emotional or physical stress. When the lining becomes irritated, the linkages between the cells of the intestinal wall can break, and larger food particles can leak through into the blood. Because only small food proteins are supposed to be allowed through, the immune system will target these larger food particles, as if they were a virus or other foreign body. When you eat that food again, your immune system will have developed antibodies against it, and it will attack the food particles that you digest, causing an inflammatory response.

Discovering your food allergies may be an important element of uncovering the reasons for your chronic symptoms. IgG Food Intolerance Testing can be helpful for determining which foods you are allergic to, and natural treatments are available.

CANDIDA

Candida albicans is yeast that can live in your digestive tract. For healthy digestion to take place, certain types of bacteria must be present in high quantities in your colon. In normal, healthy individuals, a very small amount of candida can be present along with the good bacteria.

However, if you are under stress, eat processed food, take antibiotics, or drink alcohol, the good bacteria can become crowded out by yeast or pathogenic bacteria. A candida overgrowth can occur, and this can lead to bloating, indigestion, constipation or loose stool, sugar cravings, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, skin rashes, and feelings of depression. Candida testing can be performed to determine if this is a cause of your symptoms, and natural treatments are available to bring the intestinal flora back into balance.

BLOOD SUGAR IMBALANCE

Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can cause symptoms of depression or anxiety. Imbalances in your blood glucose can lead to fatigue, restlessness, headaches, nausea, light-headedness, irritability, and poor concentration. We can check for blood sugar imbalances with a simple blood test.
If you have high blood sugar, or diabetes, we can help you get it under control naturally. At East Valley Naturopathic Doctors, we have a program called Metabolic Plus that helps you lose weight, control your blood sugar, and improve your energy.

ANEMIA

Anemia is a diminished number of red blood cells, or an inability of the red blood cells to function properly. Red blood cells carry oxygen around your body, and a person who has anemia will often feel easily fatigued, sluggish, and can become emotionally depressed.

Anemia can occur for a variety of reasons. Red blood cells require certain nutrients to form properly, including vitamin B12, folic acid, and iron. If a person becomes deficient in these nutrients, anemia can result. Anemia can occur after blood loss, or during long-term disease. There are certain genetic illnesses that lead to anemia, such as thalassemia or sickle cell anemia.  

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