Major depressive disorder or depression is a serious medical illness that is characterised by feelings of sadness, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, lack of energy, and sleep disturbances.
Severe cases may include the following symptoms:
- Irritability or angry outburst
- Slowed speech and movements
- Lack of concentration to the point of not being able to perform normal activities effectively
- Appetite changes which can lead to significant weight gain/ loss
- Frequent thoughts of death or suicide
- Guilt and fixation on past failures
- Over 300 million people from all ages throughout the world suffer from depression.
- 2 million adults (6.7 of the adult population) in the United States have suffered this illness last year.
- 3 million of these adults had an episode that caused severe impairment.
- 1 million individuals in the United States between ages 12-17 had at least one depressive episode in 2018.
- Each year, 44,000 Americans die of suicide due to major depressive disorder.
What are the Causes of Depression?
The exact cause of depression is unknown. But all biological, psychological, and social factors influence a person’s vulnerability towards this medical condition. This vulnerability may be activated by a stressful event such as loss of a loved one, abuse, personal conflicts, neglect, peer pressure, social isolation, and major life changes. Alcohol and drug abuse can also increase the risk.
It is important to know that depression can come secondary to chronic health problems such as:
Hyperthyroidism or Underactive Thyroid is a medical condition in which the thyroid gland becomes sluggish and produces insufficient hormones; the triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones are vital for maintaining normal metabolism, protein synthesis, long bone growth, and heat generation among others.
How Hypothyroidism Triggers Depression
Major depressive disorder and hypothyroidism are two different illnesses. However, they share similar symptoms, that one is often mistaken of the other. But it is also possible for hypothyroidism to cause a wider spectrum of psychiatric disorders, including depression. This is supported by a study published in the Delhi Psychiatric Journal in October 2013.
An abnormal thyroid hormone level is the probable cause of depression secondary to hypothyroidism. When thyroid hormones are not balanced, your emotions are unsettled. This leads to appetite changes, sleep problems and fatigue because you are always anxious, restless, irritated, and distracted. All of these, when combined, will make you vulnerable to a depressive state.
Hypothyroidism Symptoms Worsens Depression
Hypothyroidism patients may also experience physical changes that can downgrade self-esteem and worsen depression. These changes include weight loss or gain, hair loss, and dry skin. Goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland) is another common condition associated with hypothyroidism.
There is a strong link between mold toxicity and depression and this is supported by these publications:
How Molds Trigger Depression
Molds, specifically the members of the genus Stachybotrys, release potent toxins that can cause aberrations to normal brain function. These toxins can induce a massive immune response in the brain that can result in inflammation and damage to neurotransmitter factories.
These neurotransmitters are extremely vital for regulating mood, alertness, calmness, learning, memory, concentration, and euphoria. Therefore, if the neurotransmitter factories are damaged, neurotransmitter production will be impaired. This results in symptoms of depression.
The correlation between mold toxicity and depression can be seen in the previous toxicity levels and PET scans of patients who were successfully treated in the Sponaugle Wellness Institute. All these patients had symptoms of major depressive disorder, which disappeared when mold toxins were flushed out of their body.
Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is the gradual deterioration of kidney function over a span of months or years. This can be a complication of high blood pressure, diabetes, and genetic conditions.
Depression is highly dominant in patients with CKD, probably due to physical and psychosocial changes that come with the disease and dialysis. This is supported by a study published in 2013.
Patients with critical kidney condition may experience behavioural changes as toxins are not efficiently removed from their bloodstream.
Treatment and Diagnosis
Diagnosis is complex for all three illnesses mentioned above, particularly that of mold toxicity. This is because mold toxicity is not often accounted for when diagnosing depression. Furthermore, mold toxicity shares similar symptoms with a variety of other illnesses and conditions. At the Sponaugle Wellness Institute, treatment and diagnosis are tailored based on the unique situation of the patient.
Standard treatment for hypothyroidism involves oral medication to restore normal hormone levels. Thyroid hormone levels should be closely monitored in pregnant women because these are important in the normal development of the child.
As for CKD, renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis or transplant is the only treatment. Lifestyle changes can only help slow down the gradual loss of kidney function.
Understand the Risks
It’s important to understand the elevated risk of Major Depressive Disorder when suffering from Hypothyroidism, Mold Toxicity or Kidney Disease. Learn the symptoms and keep an eye out of them in yourself or loved ones dealing with these illnesses. Tell your physician or seek professional help if symptoms surface.
This article was kindly written and contributed by Ann Gapasin.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT PHYSICAL WELLBEING AND MENTAL WELLNESS AT THE 2019 INTERNATIONAL MENTAL HEALTH CONFERENCE.