Depression is one of the many psychiatric disorders that lack objective testing for diagnosis and treatment. Homocysteine, however, may be one solution to this lack of objective testing.
Despite being the 11th leading cause of death, suicide is still largely a mystery to professionals as well as families. Whenever a suicide occurs people are left asking, why? Why did the person choose self-harm? Were they depressed? Were they in trouble? What more could I have done to help them? The answers are not always clear. But there are certain risk factors that make an individual more likely to commit suicide.
As an Integrative Medicine physician, my role involves exploring the psychological, biological and at times the spiritual deficiencies that may sustain depression and other mood disorders. While there are clearly many factors that influence our mood and the onset of depression, there is a biological core—a physiological component—that cannot be ignored. For some, low levels of DHEA may be part of that process.
Although cholesterol-lowering medications might lower the risk of heart attacks or strokes our obsession with lowering cholesterol completely ignores the potential psychological consequences that may occur with low cholesterol.
In celiac disease the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks a protein called gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, and barley. In its attack on gluten, the immune system damages the small intestine, producing intestinal symptoms such as abdominal cramps and swelling, pain, gas, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. Once damaged the small intestine may not absorb essential vitamins, minerals, and proteins as well as it should. The health consequences of celiac disease, however, extend beyond gastrointestinal issues and may affect every organ system, including the brain.
A new study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry has shown that suicidal behavior decreases among individuals with bipolar disorder during periods of lithium medication. The register-based study included more than 51,000 participants and was conducted at the Karolinksa Institutet in Sweden.
Lately, exercise has been at the forefront of every conversation about health. No doubt this careful attention is due to the increasing concerns over obesity and sedentary lifestyles. And it’s true that exercise can improve our health by reducing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and the risk of developing diabetes. Did you realize though that exercise also has amazing positive psychological effects?
While other medical specialties recommend blood tests, X-rays, and other high-tech diagnostic equipment, psychiatrists only have the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and perhaps good listening skills. The DSM, currently in its 5th edition, is the bible of the mental health profession containing descriptions and symptom lists for every “official” mental health diagnosis.
We are a culture of extremes, making it hard to see the gray or find middle ground. In the treatment of depression patients are exposed to one of two modes of treatment: traditional medicine or alternative treatment. Instead of this one-or-the-other approach, imagine what would happen if beneficial aspects from both of these viewpoints were combined to enhance psychiatric treatment for depression.
I’m excited to have co-edited and contributed to an important new book in the integrative mental health movement. Integrative Therapies for Depression: Redefining Models for Assessment, Treatment and Prevention summarizes emerging theories and research findings on various nonpharmaceutical therapies to treat mood disorders.