Imagine you go into your Doctors office to check for Diabetes. The Doctor will run tests to confirm if you have Diabetes and the results of those blood tests determine your treatment.
Now imagine going to the Doctor for Depression.
There is no medical test.
The Doctor or Psychiatrist will diagnose you based on your symptoms without running any blood tests for deficiencies or inflammation that may highlight valid reasons for the way you feel.
Depression is one of the few conditions that has no standard medical test to confirm its presence.
If you are showing common symptoms of the acronym FESTIVAL, then generally speaking, that is your Diagnosis.
Yet there are actual tests that can be done. Tests that show why someone may be more likely to suffer from Depression. Most of these tests are not yet being used in the mainstream medical model.
1. Organic Acid Test
This is a test which checks urinary metabolites for things like Dopamine or Serotonin issues. Chances are, if you are on medication for Depression, it will be a drug classed as an SSRI(Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor) which works solely on increasing Serotonin levels in the brain.
The Organic Acid Test also checks for gut health, energy production issues and likely shortfalls of Nutrients critical for mental health such as Folic Acid or B12. This test is currently only available through Private Labs. Typically the information is difficult to interpret so having a Nutritional Therapist who can guide you through the results with a plan of action to alter these metabolites is important.
2. LPS – Inflammation in the Gut & Brain
Inflammation is now correlated as one the leading causes of Depression. So testing for raised inflammatory markers could be a key to identifying underlying cause of Depression. Existing Medical tests for markers such as C-Reactive Protein or Il-6 can sometimes show up positive but if its low grade systemic inflammation that originates in the gut… then standard medical testing may fall short.
Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is a marker that shows the presence of bacteria in the bloodstream. The bacteria doesn’t belong there and typically causes inflammation linked with Depression . Testing for this, as of writing, is only available through a private lab in the U.S.
3. Blood Sugar – Where is my energy?
A diabetic is twice as likely to be depressed as a non diabetic. Yet the path to diabetes can take decades. You don’t have to be Diabetic to monitor blood sugar levels and its possible to see patterns early on that indicate either Pre Diabetes or something called Insulin Resistance. Insulin Resistance underlies the pathology for Diabetes and will often show increased blood sugar values and increased inflammation which tie in with Depression.
In practice, I like to give clients a Glucometer to help address blood sugar patterns that may be exacerbating Depressive Symptoms.
Some of these tests are very unique and specific to determine underlying mechanisms linked with Depression. I always give clients the option for further testing but it can be costly. Addressing inflammation, energy balance and nutrient absorption in a more holistic way, can often be enough so I offer that to clients here.