What if I told you that there’s a 90 percent chance of figuring out the root cause of your depression from 4 simple lab tests (3 blood and 1 urine) that any doctor can order?
If you’ve been struggling for years with symptoms, I’m sure you’re more than a little skeptical.
What if I also told you that these claims are based on more than 4 decades of research on a database of 300,000 blood and urine samples from 2,800 depressed people?
Would that get you curious?
The Holy Grail of Depression Research
For more than 40 years, Dr. William Walsh Ph.D. and his colleagues at the Walsh Research Institute have been searching to identify the biochemical roots of depression (and other mental health disorders including schizophrenia and autism.)
What Dr. Walsh has identified by looking through all that data, is that psychiatry has been thinking about depression in far too narrow a way. It has zeroed in on one cause, but obscured others.
For over 45 years the psychiatric establishment has been hitched to the Monoamine Hypothesis of Depression which holds that depressive symptoms are caused by low levels of a number of neurotransmitters including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.
While many people have benefitted from taking these medications, there have been two consistent problems with antidepressant use over the last 30 years that have stumped doctors and researchers:
1) After trying a number of different antidepressants, far too many people still struggle with symptoms. Click here for more information about the government’s assessment.
2) A small percentage of people using antidepressants have extremely serious negative side effects, including developing mania, as well as becoming homicidal and/or suicidal, states not present before the medication was started.
What Dr. Walsh’s Depression Database Reveals
The most important finding from this data is that depression isn’t a singular entity with a sole biological driver (i.e. the low levels of neurotransmitters that psychiatry has assumed) but is actually five distinct biochemical imbalances masquerading as one disorder.
So we are dealing with five different underlying issues that look the same to an observer and even feel the same to the depressed person, but require entirely different approaches to treatment.
This calls into question the “one pill, one ill” approach to psychiatry and provides a solid scientifically grounded explanation for why antidepressants yield little to no response in some people and make symptoms of others dangerously worse.
The punch line: The reason antidepressants only work in some people is because only two of the five subtypes of depression have low serotonin as a main issue. So, a drug that makes better use of serotonin (i.e. antidepressants) will only help some people with depression!
The Five Biotypes of Depression
This is the most common imbalance, affecting 38 percent of depressed people. It’s characterized by low levels of serotonin (caused by rapid reabsorption of serotonin after release.) As antidepressants inhibit serotonin reuptake, this biotype usually respond well to antidepressant medications. In fact, this biotype most closely fits the problem described by the monoamine hypothesis.
This biotype is the result of a common genetic condition that affects 15 percent of depressives. Like undermethylators, this biotype typically responds quite well to treatment with SSRIs. These people also have low levels of serotonin but by a different mechanism than undermethylators.
They lack sufficient levels of B6 and Zinc, which are both cofactors in neurotransmitter synthesis.
Additionally, they often have high levels of Omega 3 fats in their body and low levels of certain Omega 6s (most people that eat the Standard American Diet have the reverse.) Therefore, they can have a worsening of symptoms when taking fish oil or vegetarian forms of Omega 3s derived from microalgae, flax seeds and other sources . So, a negative reaction to fish oil supplements can be a sign that someone might have a problem in this area.
This biotype represents 17 percent of depressives and tends to affect more women than men, mostly because copper levels are closely related to estrogen metabolism.
The tendency to have higher than normal copper levels has more to do with genetics than copper intake through food or the environment as the body usually has a very tightly regulated system for controlling copper levels.
That said, if you have a genetic difficulty with regulating copper, it’s best to avoid environmental sources from foods, cookware, pipes, etc.
This is a subgroup that has little effect, good or bad, from taking SSRIs. People who have copper issues are often kept on meds for long periods of time and are likely to say things such as, “I’m not sure if my antidepressant is working or not- maybe a little.”
The main thing high copper does is lower levels of the pleasure neurotransmitter dopamine and significantly raise levels of norepinephrine, which leads to depression combined with often debilitating anxiety. A sign of copper overload in women is symptoms of depression that occur during hormonal changes like puberty, postpartum and menopause. High copper levels often play an underappreciated role in postpartum depression.
This biotype represents 20 percent of depressed folks and people in this group tend to get much worse on antidepressants. For them, antidepressants can induce mania (with hallucinations and delusions), as well as causing them to become homicidal and suicidal.
Almost all people who have severe negative reactions to antidepressants fall into this group.
In a recent training I attended, Dr. Walsh reported that he was able to get blood samples from the Columbine High School shooters, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. Not surprisingly he found that both boys were overmethylated and were taking antidepressants at the time of the massacre.
It is my sincere hope that psychiatrists learn about the dangerous connection between antidepressants, overmethylation and acts of extreme violence.
Based on this information, hopefully they will begin to test every single person for methylation status before putting them on an antidepressants. This step alone could avoid so much future suffering!
Toxic Metal Overload
This biotype represents only 5 percent of depressed folks. It is caused by overload of heavy metals including mercury and lead.
While many integrative mental health practitioners advocate for chelation therapy to remove heavy metals, Dr. Walsh advocates for supporting the body’s natural system to regulate and remove toxic metals with the use of Metallothionein Promotion Therapy.
If you are depressed, please get yourself tested!
While any medical provider can order this testing, it is advised that you go to a provider trained in the Walsh Protocols because in addition to understanding the specifics of how the chemistry samples should be collect, he or she will also be able to create individually tailored nutritional protocols that have been shown to correct the imbalances found through testing.
Additionally, I am a Walsh Provider that offers services by phone anywhere in the world. If you are interested in learning more about my services, check out my website.
Sometimes These Next Steps are Important
While I believe Dr. Walsh has done such important and clarifying work in identifying the five depression biotypes, there are times when digging a little deeper can be necessary to fully address the root cause of depression.
While clearly not a complete list, some of the other root causes of depression include:
And like the biotypes addressed by Dr. Walsh, these underlying triggers for depression can be identified by functional testing and addressed naturally. Click here to find out more.
In good (mental) health,
Dr. Josh Friedman has more than 25 years experience in mental health as a client, psychologist, and functional nutrition practitioner. After working in the field for a few years, he realized how many people were still struggling with depression and other mental health issues even after years of therapy and medication. Over time he became increasingly uncomfortable with the limitations of standard psychiatric treatment and knew there had to be a better way. Over the past decade and a half, he has committed himself to learning as much as he could about the root causes of mental health symptoms. To share this information and to help people get unstuck, he started Alternative Mental Health Solution.