I recently had a brake problem in my car, and the diagnosis I made was completely different from the one my mechanic made. My diagnosis was descriptive, “the brakes squeak and the car pulls to the left,” I said to my mechanic. The diagnosis he made was that the rotors and brake pads were worn down.
My diagnosis, like the ones often given to patients who suffer from psychiatric disorders, was descriptive of symptoms. The other meaning of the word diagnosis is to define the cause. That’s what depression really is; definitive, testable, modifiable causes. The causes can be immunological (e.g., gluten sensitivity), infectious (e.g., Candida or Lyme), allergic (e.g., pollen), toxic (e.g., mercury), metabolic (e.g., hypoglycemia), psycho emotional (e.g., irrational thinking, or unfinished emotional trauma (PTSD) and/or genetic issues (e.g., methylation problems).
Here is a short list of 21 other causes of depression:
- The belief that I can only be happy if I can control the behavior of others, especially significant others.
- Consumption of too much of the American 5 basic food groups – caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, sugar and Trans fats.
- Inability to accept losses and letting go.
- Inability to express ones true feelings.
- Going to sleep very late and sleeping in.
- Maintaining a belief that depression just happens, that well-studied causes are still unknown, and that only 3 options exist - tough it out, see a therapist, or medicate it.
- A belief that the answers and the truth do not come from within, that the answers to important questions in life depend on external circumstances.
- Feeling entitled to all the good things in life and never believing that one should have to exert effort to get them (like getting into psychotherapy).
- Never eating organic food.
- Never filtering one’s water and drinking from the tap.
- Believing that everyone must approve of me and like me.
- Believing that I and others should be infallible (perfectionism).
- Believing that the world should be fair and that I should always get what I want in life.
- Consumption of too much processed food.
- Never getting enough sunlight.
- Excess consumption of prescription drugs.
- Only breathing indoor air and not breathing fresh air.
- Keep one’s cell phone glued to the side of one’s face (and not using neutralizing devices).
- Not consuming enough antioxidants, vitamins, essential fatty acids or minerals.
- Dishonesty and persistently breaking agreements.
- Not getting enough exercise.
The core of functional medicine is to look at the whole person, and identify the possible underlying causes of depression or any medical issue in order to treat it accordingly.
Charles Gant MD, PhD, has practiced Integrative and Functional Medicine for over three decades. He specializes in molecular health and healing, especially as it supports growth and mental health recovery from problems such as ADHD, autism, mood problems, addictions, nicotine dependence, chronic diseases, metabolic and immune disorders, infectious disease, and more. He is an expert in interpretation of functional medicine testing to diagnose precisely what is deficient in each patient, and then replenish those missing, essential items.