Many advances in medical care have come about since the mapping of the human genome a decade and a half ago, due to the availability of inexpensive and effective genetic testing.
Depression is one of the health issues that genetic testing has made it possible to treat more effectively.
Your Genes Can Be A Factor In Long-Term Depression
Roughly 30% of the population (as high as 40% in some ethnic groups), have a genetic condition known as MTHFR. Genetic testing can reveal abnormal mutations in a set of 50 genes related to this condition. Depending on which genes are impacted, and how much, susceptibility to certain diseases and issues can be much higher than the normal population.
Genetic Testing Doesn’t Mean You WILL Have a Problem
Genetic testing doesn’t tell you that you’re going to have an issue – it tells you that you have a vulnerability that you may want to support with lifestyle changes, nutrition or supplements.
Testing Genes Can Help Target Treatment
In the case of depression, genetic testing can help identify one of the triggering issues for depression. The MTHFR issue relates to a problem with converting folate (vitamin B9) from food into the form needed by the body. While it doesn’t sound like a big deal, over time this can effect brain chemicals, result in depression and other mental illnesses. If you get the “mutant” genes from one parent, you are less impacted than someone who gets them from both.
MTHFR Gene Issues Can Have Wide Impact
Depression isn’t the only issue with MTHFR. It may also be a factor in:
- adrenal exhaustion
- Bipolar Disorder
- cardiovascular disease
- chronic fatigue
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Multiple Sclerosis
- thyroid problems
Treating Depression In People With MTHFR
Today our focus is depression. In long-term medication resistant depressed people, 70 to 80% have been shown to have the MTHFR gene issue.
Treatment can be relatively simple, involving helping the patient reach an appropriate dose of the right form of vitamin B9, supported by vitamin B12 and other nutrients that support the body’s methylation cycle, which is what the MTHFR genes are related to.
In fact, an FDA approved prescription version of vitamin B9, called Deplin, is now used as an adjunct therapy for individuals who are failing to respond to antidepressants.
However, in some situations it may be worth trying the vitamin therapy alone.
Here’s what one lifelong-depressive in her 50’s said about vitamin therapy for depression:
“When I reached the right dose for me, it was like a switch was thrown. I knew how ‘normal people’ felt. It was like a huge weight was taken off, and although it’s been over 18 months, the depression hasn’t returned.”
Of course, not everyone has the same genetic issues or responds in exactly the same way, but if you have issues with long-term depression, it may be worth considering contacting our integrative medical clinic for genetic testing and DNA Analysis. We would be happy to help you find out if MTHFR or other genetic issues, such as difficulties in absorbing vitamin D, could be part of the challenge you’re having with depression.