Most people around the world are familiar with and are aware of what psychiatry is: the study and treatment of mental illness, emotional disturbance, and abnormal behavior. But, surprisingly, many are not aware of a variation called nutritional psychiatry, a discipline that focuses on the use of food and supplements to provide essential nutrients as part of treatment for mental health disorders. This field of practice has grown in popularity in the last few decades due to the obvious connections between a lack of essential nutrients and poor mental health. However, sadly, much of mainstream medicine still does not accept nutritional approaches to mental health care as a primary treatment option. Currently, according to the National Institute for Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines, the recommended treatment for these conditions remains a combination of psychotherapy and antidepressants, which are ineffective for up to 60% of patients. With depression being a major health issue around the world, major improvements need to be made so those suffering can find the relief their deserve.

Recently, Dr. Andrea Cipriani of Oxford University published a study that found antidepressants to be more effective in treating depression than placebo. This means there is a benefit to taking antidepressant medications—a benefit which is only improved upon when it is combined with other treatment options. But still, there are many who fail to find adequate relief from these medications, and stop taking them within the first 30-days of prescription. This makes it clear that more dramatic lifestyle changes may be necessary, in addition to regular therapy and antidepressants, to provide the level of relief that many are desperately seeking.

As an example of the growing issue: in 2016, 64.7 million prescriptions for antidepressants were issued in England. This increase of 3.7 million from the previous year was more than double the 31 million prescriptions issued just  a decade earlier, in 2006. Similarly, the number of Americans who report taking an antidepressant rose by 65 percent between 1999 and 2014.

What’s even more troubling: the risk of mental health complications in our youth that take these antidepressants may actually increase. In 29 clinical trials, antidepressants were found to provide no benefit at all. Instead, what they found was that, instead of relieving symptoms of anxiety and depression, the antidepressants caused children and young people to feel suicidal. With an increasing number of our youth being prescribed these drugs, something needs to change.

It is widely understood that many mental health conditions can be caused by an inflammation in the brain, leading to brain cell death. This inflammation is directly correlated with the gut, which responds appropriately to a lack of nutrients from digested food. Some of the most commonly lacking vitamins and minerals are magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotic bacteria, vitamin B, and vitamin D. All of these play a critical role in maintaining and regulating the mechanics of a high functioning body. In fact, recent research on the subject has shown that supplementing a diet with these nutrients helped to elevate mood, relieve anxiety and depression, and even improve mental capacity in patients with Alzheimer’s. In one study, the benefits observed from a daily magnesium supplement disappeared as soon as the supplement was discontinued. It is clear that for many, there are other factors besides regulating serotonin, that need to be considered when attempting to relieve mood disorders like depression.

Fortunately, treating depression through diet could not be easier. Through a carefully planned diet and regular exercise, many may be able to find the relief they were looking for. For many, having access to over-the-counter supplements or IV hydration therapy is an effective way to provide their body with the nutrients it is lacking. However, if after trying nutritional supplements and IV hydration, adequate relief is not found, there are other alternatives, like ketamine infusion therapy. Many who have failed to find relief from first-line depression treatment options may find that supplementing their diet, exercise, and psychotherapy with ketamine infusions can work wonders.

Elev8 MD Wellness Center is one of Charlotte’s leading wellness centers. We offer a full menu of health and wellness services, designed to promote physical, emotional and spiritual wellness. Schedule a free consultation with us today to see if you are a candidate for ketamine infusions, IV hydration therapy, acupuncture, talk therapy, or amy of our other wellness services.