Disclaimer: I am not claiming to be an ‘expert’ in mental health by sharing the below article with you. I do however, have a strong interest in the nutritional biochemistry concerning neurotransmitters and neurochemicals that relate directly with mental health. Nutrition plays a very significant role in the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain and the gut and this needs to be integrated into treatment. This is a perrsonal story and if it benefits 1 person, its worth sharing. Mental health is a topic we can’t talk about enough – we need to keep the conversation alive. Please share this with anyone whom you think may benefit or relate to the discussion below.
For over 2 years now, I haven’t been feeling ‘quite right.’ Without going into too much detail I have been struggling with periods of extreme tiredness (I mean, I could seriously nap under the table by 10am in the morning!), struggling to find my usual motivation, experiencing really anxious tendencies and not always in a positive headspace. The fatigue thing was particularly concerning as it was having quite an impact. I had FULL blood tests done including comprehensive thyroid studies, iron and hormones and had spoken to a couple of GPs but nothing was coming up – all the more frustrating. I was having some success in recent months using nutritional support for neurotransmitter levels – but I was still leaving a lot of it to chance and ‘guessing’ what I needed so I bit the bullet and had a full neurotransmitter analysis done. The results came in yesterday and they’ve definitely provided a way forward. You can see the results below and I have provided a brief interpretation as well.
-My serotonin levels are HIGH. With my symptoms, you would assume they would be low, however abnormally high serotonin can also induce many symptoms I can relate too: fatigue, anxiety, even susceptibility to cold. Standard treatment would have me on an SSRI however this would only exacerbate my symptoms. In addition, high serotonin can affect the GUT and digestion as the majority of serotonin is in the digestive system. It can lead to diarrhoea and even IBS (one of the reasons SSRIs can affect digestion).
-Dopamine: LOW. The neurotransmitter associated with MOTIVATION and reward and also the precursor to adrenalin.
-Adrenaline: LOW. Truth – I currently have no fight or flight response. I swear a bear could be chasing me in a forest and I wouldn’t react; I can’t remember getting that ‘surge’ for a long time. Further confirmation of this is very low serum cortisol levels that did show up in my bloods.
-Glutamate: LOW. Probably where you want it to be.
-The power of having results that validate how one feels is PRICELESS.
So, what now? Treating the cause and not just the symptoms means looking at rebalancing neurotransmitters and guess what? Nutrition provides the building blocks here. The inclusion of some foods can assist, but concentrated nutritional supplementation is indicated and extremely effective. Now I know exactly what I need and how much.
If your energy levels are extremely low or your mood is just not right, and you want options, ask your psychologist, integrated GP, Nutritionist or Naturopath if integrated Neurotransmitter testing may be right for you. This is science based testing conducted through specialised pathology labs and it enables personalised and tailored treatment for conditions that can be completely debilitating. Personally, I think this type of testing is GOLD considering the prevalence of mental health conditions in the country and the world today. Again, start the conversation and share this with people you think may need it. Always consult a psychologist or General Practitioner if your symptoms are severe and surround yourself with a team of practitioners that can tackle your health from all angles in an integrated manner for best results.