The news came out of left field and truthfully when it did, I was in shock. Receiving news of a death hadn’t hit me until days later when I found myself choking up while grocery shopping. This individual took her life at the ripe age of 35 and left the world way too early. And while she was receiving conventional medical treatment, a huge part of me feels that more could have done to save her life. Now I’m not suggesting that if you are medication, to go off them. Rather, I’m asking you to see other factors that you do have control in and that truthfully could save a life.
The first time that I saw this connection was when I read, “Is This Your Child?” from Doris Rapp. Analyzing children’s behavior before and after eating an allergic food was astounding (seen here in Figure 2). Children became hostile, depressed and restless. And as adults we aren’t any different. I know personally, after I consume gluten (especially wheat), I become depressed, lethargic and sometimes even anxious. It took me years to see this connection and one that I strongly advise my patients about to this day. From diarrhea to constipation, the state of our digestive system greatly impacts our mental health. Now the problem is that identifying a food sensitivity isn’t as easy as getting a skin prick test – which measures for an immediate response (antibody IgE). Instead, many food sensitivities can show a delayed reaction up to four days later. This involves an entirely different antibody (IgG) that won’t show up on the classic skin prick test, so an elimination diet can prove to be quite useful.
The Probiotic & Gut Health Connection
New research is resurfacing about the strong link depression and poor gut health. In fact, one case showed that a course of strong probiotics administered for six months actually showed a dramatic decrease in depression. You see our gut has been touted as the second brain for a host of reasons including that we have a large amount of neurons attached to our gut. And now experts are convinced that really paying special focus on gut microbes can have a dramatic psychological and behavioural impact.
SSRIs & Increased Risk of Suicide
And one of the troubling things to note, is that drugs like Paxil, Luvox and Prozac, which are considered selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) actually list suicide as one of its side effects. The reason for this is because too much serotonin can actually be a bad thing since it can act as an excitotoxin in the system. Since these medications can actually increase levels of the neurotransmitter, serotonin, the brain may react in ways similar to mental illness. And the sad part, is many doctors are not taking this into greater account and in the US, an estimated 70% of prescriptions are being written for SSRIs.
Now please understand that in no way am I suggesting that you stop your medication. Rather I urge you to prioritize your gut health and never stop asking questions. Seek help from a qualified practitioner who can uncover the root cause and reach out to a therapist to have an outlet. And remember, you’re not alone.
This recent death saddens me, but with death comes rebirth. People have bonded together and new relationships that were once broken have been glued back together. Plus this makes me want to bring the stigma of mental health more to forefront and urge you to take your digestive health into greater accountability. This is an aspect of your life that you can control that will greatly impact other aspects of your life that you value and hold dear.