Depression is a low mood that lasts for weeks or months and affects your daily life.

Man on couch with depression

According to WHO depression can be characterised by “persistent sadness and a lack of interest of pleasure in previously rewarding or enjoyable activities”. Depression can also affect sleep, appetite and concentration and can affect a person’s ability to function and lead a rewarding life.

What are the symptoms of depression?

  • Fatigue
  • Persistent sadness lasting for more than 2 weeks 
  • Low mood, feeling of worthlessness and hopelessness and irritability
  • Low sex drive
  • Weight changes – comfort eating or losing appetite
  • Problems in concentrating
  • Problems sleeping
  • Thoughts of death or suicide or self-harming

What causes depression?

  • Low thyroid function
  • Low Vitamin D levels
  • Nutritional deficiencies – especially healthy fats
  • Food intolerances – especially gluten and dairy proteins that can change brain function.
  • Stress
  • Unresolved emotional issues
  • Alcoholism
  • Imbalanced gut bacteria

Conventional Approach

Usually through a combination of medications and talking therapies. SSRI’s (selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors) are often used as are other medications that work on various ways to increase levels of serotonin (our happy hormone). Often, once the medication is stopped then symptoms reoccur, functional medicine helps to get to the root cause.

Things you can do:

  1. Eat whole, real food. Make sure you are eating real food that contains plenty of the nutrients that your body and brain needs. This means 10 portions of vegetables a day with protein and healthy fats.
  2. Cut out sugar. After eating sugar, the body can ‘crash’ and mood can plummet. Scientific studies now show that sugar is linked to depression.
  3. Exercise regularly. Studies show exercise is as good as, and even better than anti-depressants.
  4. Get enough sleep. Sleep is essential for balancing all hormones including the ones that govern mood. Look at your sleep hygiene and make some changes where you can – regular bedtime, avoiding stimulants, having a relaxing routing before bed and aiming for 8 hours a night.
  5. Control stress levels – Stress contributes to depression so find a method that helps control these hormones – meditation, yoga, tai chi, getting into nature, walking the dog.
  6. Check your Vitamin D level – low status is linked to low mood.

What can Functional Medicine do to support?

  • Use functional testing to find out about your nutrient levels and then develop a plan of action to optimise your nutrition. Certain nutrients are vital for brain neurotransmitter balance that can affect mood.
  • Test to find out about food sensitivities that can be affecting your mood. Proteins found in wheat and diary especially can be problematic for some people when it comes to mood.
  • Check your hormone balance – when hormones are out of balance, mood can be affected. We will find out if your hormones need supporting (thyroid, stress, or blood sugar) and use food and supplements to support.
  • Reduce inflammation – inflammation can cause mood dysregulation. We can use food and supplements to help manage this.
  • Support lifestyle medicine – support stress reduction techniques, better sleep and encourage exercise in proportion.
  • Investigate your gut – an imbalance of gut bacteria can affect the production of serotonin which can affect mood.

5 Pillars of Functional Medicine

Managing Stress

Depression and Functional Medicine

Do you suffer from depression and have tried all the usual approaches?

Functional Medicine can help you, simply book an online consultation or arrange a free 15 minute discovery call and find out how we can help.