Depressed? It’s Not All In Your Head! Microbiome Medicine Can Help.

By Raphael Kellman, M.D., Kellman Center for Functional and Integrative Medicine

There is a distinct type of depression that presents with characteristics of a mood disorder combined with symptoms of gastrointestinal conditions.  This is bit different than what we typically associate with a psychiatric form of depression and these patients may not respond to standard anti-depressants.

In these cases, depression and gut health are deeply connected. The intestinal component is actually the main piece and driving force behind both sets of issues.  But, the problem isn’t with the intestine itself.  The core of such issues stems from imbalances in the gut microbial communities living inside the intestine called the gut microbiome.  These bacteria are deeply involved with all aspects of health especially in the brain.  The key to healing and improving one’s frame of mind lies in the ability to restore harmony in the gut microbiome.

While these conditions are highly treatable, so many patients wind up shuttling from doctor to doctor in vain, searching for relief from their mental anguish.  Unfortunately most physicians do not recognize these disturbances for what they are and instead treat them as typical mood or digestive disorders.   A GI doctor trained to look at structure will miss the root cause while a psychiatrist will only explore the brain.  There is a new movement in medicine that understands the true nature of these illnesses and how to best approach them.  Microbiome Medicine is focused on restoring the health of the individual through interventions designed to rebalance microbial populations. 

Why Microbiome Medicine Succeeds When Anti-depressants Fail

Typically anti-depressants don’t work in these scenarios simply because they don’t address the actual cause.  It makes sense that depression triggered by glitches in neurotransmitters would respond to medications working on those channels.  Here, however the catalyst is microbial imbalance so these medications will not have the desired effect.

Microbiome Medicine can provide a clear path to the best treatment option by starting with in-depth testing to determine the state of microbial populations.  A breath test to measure levels of hydrogen and methane can determine if there is bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine.  Blood tests are available to look at different markers like LPS and inflammatory cytokines that become elevated with intestinal conditions and microbial imbalance.  A highly specialized test called an Ion Panel will shed light on proportions and quantities of bacteria as well as types. 

Individualized treatment plans based on testing outcomes work to remove pathogens including harmful bacteria, candida, parasites, viruses and fungi while supporting and repopulating healthful microbes through targeted pre and probiotic use.  True dietary intervention can have the most profound effect on bacterial composition of all.  The Microbiome Diet is geared towards rebalancing the microorganisms to restore you to optimal function. Successful therapy should result in both a resolution of intestinal disorders as well as the restoration of a harmonious mind.  Here at the Kellman Center, we are pleased to provide comprehensive, targeted care highlighting the microbiome. This is true personalized medicine that focuses on the individual and health from the inside out.

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