Functional Medicine Treatment for Depression

Functional Medicine Treatment for Depression

Stressed woman looking unhappy.

Depression manifests itself in a myriad of ways, depending on the individual.  While symptoms can vary greatly, some of the more common ones are:

  • Fatigue/exhaustion
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability/anger
  • Appetite gain/loss
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • A general sense of hopelessness/helplessness
  • Reckless or self-damaging behavior

Due to the lack of external evidence of a medical condition, many people in society dismiss depression as being “all in your head.”  They may say there is something “wrong” with those suffering from the condition, when there is far more to it than that.  Depression is a condition caused by a complex combination of factors:  immunological, genetic, metabolic, and toxic.  Even nutritional deficiencies can contribute towards depression.  As such, without an easily detectable source of cause, depression can prove quite difficult to treat, much less eliminate.

What Does a Functional Medicine Approach for Depression Involve? 

A functional medicine approach to treatment doesn’t just involve looking at symptoms, but the underlying causes as well.  Sometimes, the underlying cause can be attributed to a medical condition.  Various blood, stool, and saliva testing can assist a practitioner in finding the root cause of a patient.  This, combined with a comprehensive background questionnaire, can help determine what the origin of the depression may be.  Depending on that particular origin, the most effective form of treatment plan can be determined.

How is Addiction Related to Depression?

Substance abuse and depression are tightly interwoven.  Various psychotropic toxins can temporarily ameliorate depression.  However, the next day, the person is left toxic and feeling even worse than when they had started, which entices them into a vicious cycle of addiction.  Substance abuse most commonly involves abuse of prescription drugs or alcohol.  Left unaddressed, this cycle can prove extremely dangerous and, in time, can oftentimes lead to a catastrophe.

What Makes a Functional Medicine Approach Unique?

Traditional medical treatment of depression is usually little more than a prescription to anti-depressant medications.  Typical anti-depressant medications fall into the categories of SSRIs, tricyclic, MAOIs, or atypical.  While these medications may prove quite effective in masking the depression, it does absolutely nothing in regards to treating the underlying cause.

Functional medicine seeks to find the root of the problem and eliminate the cause from its very roots, ensuring it doesn’t come back as soon as we stop treating the resulting symptoms of that cause.  The most comparable form of treatment it can be compared to is psychological treatment.  However, while psychotherapy can be utilized with great success in some specific cases of depression, the underlying cause is not always (and more often than not) is tied into far more in the body than just one’s mental state.

Functional medicine can include a variety of treatments.  While some individuals may be directed primarily towards lifestyle changes to eliminate their depression, others may be directed more towards various forms of exercise.  The great thing about functional medicine is it does not rely on one specific protocol.  It is highly versatile, and the practitioner adapts their treatment to the specific needs of the client.  As such, the treatment is more personal, more efficient, and more permanent than anti-depression medications.  Rest assured, if you are seeking to rid yourself of depression without the need of medication for the rest of your life, functional medicine is the approach for you.