If you have struggled most of your life with depression, been on an antidepressant for as long as you can remember, find it difficult to find joy in anything, feel tired more often than not, then maybe its time to take a closer look at your biochemistry!
Here are a couple of things that may be worth further investigation:
Testing the functional status of your digestive tract is a must, whilst a colonoscopy/endoscopy will provide you with a structural understanding of your gut, getting a functional assessment can provide some critical information. This type of testing will assess the status of your gut flora, essential in many metabolic activities such as nutrient absorption, energy and immune function. It will also determine the presence of parasites (must be a 3 days test) or yeast, inflammation, blood and how efficently fats, protein and carbohydrates are broken down in your digestive system. A 3 day comprehensive stool analysis, is not covered by medicare and therefore is an, out of pocket, expense, costs range from $300 to $750 depending on the laboratory used and the level of testing undertaken. This information is vital for those suffering chronic depression (useful in any chronic illness or other mood disorders too). Most of our seratonin (the feel good chemical), is produced in our gut!
Some level of exercise is necessary as it triggers endorphin’s to be released which provides a positive sensation in the body. If you are also fatigued, starting with 5 to 15 minutes of walking in the morning and building on this is a gentle approach, rather than pushing the body too hard.
Food Intolerances & Allergies
Food intolerances or alergies to foods, chemicals and air borne substances will effect the gut and the immune system, can cause fatigue and make you feel lousy. Most people know if they are alergic to something, but when it comes to food intolerances, many of us do not have a clue. Some symptoms to look out for are, fatigue, hayfever, sinusitis, eczema, psoriasis, IBS, bloating, urgency, diahhorea, constipation, flactulence or autoimmune conditions. Testing for foods can be done through an elimination and challenge diet or testing IgE, IgG and IgA for various foods, costs can range from $180 to $700. Some of the common food culprits are dairy, wheat, gluten, yeast, additives, nuts – although is useful to know, this is very individualized and intolerances can vary dramatically from person to person.
You may not be taking in enough nutrients, you just may not be eating it or it could be a digestive issue which is blocking absorption. The most important things to test for are – vitmain D, zinc, copper, vitamin B12, folate and iron (although there are others).
Inflammation and Hormones
Checking if the body is inflammed is important as this effects our mood and this can be done by testing – CRP, hsCRP, ESR and ferritin. Hormones can certainly interfere with mood, this is usually because any of the above factors (digestion, nutrients, intolerances, inflammation) may be influencing the correct running of them.
Interests & Hobbies
Find the things you are interested in and take them up as a hobbie or a paid job, this is such a great way to improve depression from a pschological perspecitve. Taking up a short course, gardening, fishing, cooking, anything that will trigger a sense of passion. Its never too late, we’re never too old and there are ways to make time, you just may need to look at what you are currently spending your time on, do you watch a lot of TV, internet, texting, cleaning (too much!) etc, could you reduce these to open space for your interests and hobbies? If you struggle with your behaviour, I recommend you see a health psychologist/counsellor to help you with strategies.
Long term, severe depression is multi faceted and requires complete analysis of all components, to be assessed and treated. Improving energy initially is the best approach as this then provides the motivation to work on other changes that will be necessary.