Depression and anxiety are very common mood disorders. They affect many people in our culture particularly at this time of year in Canada. Treatment for anxiety and depression ranges from cognitive behavioural therapy to exercise to medication to herbal products and vitamins. For some these methods are very effective and others struggle to get relief. Here are some reasons why you might want to consider adding in genetic testing to your treatment plan.
To get clues into your methylation status.
Several genes can be tested to help figure out how well you ‘methylate’. Methylation is the addition of a methyl group to a molecule and has many essential roles in the body. One such important role is in modulating the rates of build up and breakdown of neurotransmitters (chemicals that help to control mood & behaviour). Variations in genes such as MTHFR (which codes for an enzyme responsible for folate metabolism) can result in a 35-70% reduction in the ability to methylate. In a surprisingly large percentage of the population there is a variant in one or both of the main MTHFR genes.
Genes involved in the methylation cycle are associated with psychiatric conditions such as depression, anxiety, neuroticism, and schizophrenia (1-5). COMT, MAOA and MTHFR are a few examples of gene variations that code for enzymes needed for methylation and are involved in neurotransmitter metabolism. These genes are also associated with greater symptom severity and poorer outcomes in both depression and anxiety (1-5). In a study examining major depressive disorder (1), they found that those carrying a homozygous variation of MTHFR were more likely to have greater symptom severity and poor prognosis (1). In individuals who had experienced childhood trauma, those that had MTHFR polymorphisms had greater severity of depression and higher occurrence of relapse (3).
To get specific targeted treatment (unique to you!) to reduce the occurrence of relapse and decrease severity of symptoms.
Consult with a doctor educated in methylation and nutrigemonics who can develop a treatment plan for you based on your presenting symptoms and using information from genetic testing. This approach can help you start feeling better faster.
Your genes are not your destiny
This information can give you the power to take control of your health. Epigenetics play an essential role in the expression of your genes. That means lifestyle, environment and nutrient intake affects how your genes express. This sort of information is powerful and leads to better treatment outcomes if identified and addressed correctly.
What does all of this mean for you?
If you have a mood disorder such as depression or anxiety, it might be worthwhile running a simple genetic test to determine your methylation status. This information can help you and your health care practitioner develop a treatment plan to get you feeling better faster.
Dr. McCollum is trained in methylation and nutrigenomic treatment. If you have any questions about this approach contact us or leave a comment below.
Dr Meaghan’s mission is to inspire others to higher levels of health and wellness. She does this by sharing the simplicity of natural medicine with the profound results of modern natural therapies. Her goal is to help determine the cause of a person’s symptoms and illness and work with them to achieve an optimal state of health and wellness. She works with individuals who are ready to take an active role in their own healthcare.
- Bousman CA, et al. MTHFR genetic variation and major depressive disorder prognosis: a five-year prospective cohort study of primary care attendees. Amer J Med Genet part B.2014;165B:68-76.
- Bottiglieri T, et al. Homocysteine, folate methylation, and monoamine metabolism in depression. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2000;69:228–32.
- Lok A, et al. Interaction between the MTHFR c677T polymorphism and traumatic childhood events predicts depression. 2013;3.
- Kevere et al. Homocysteine and MTHFR C677T polymorphism in children and adolescents with psychotic and mood disorders. Nord J Psychiatry. 2014;68(2):129-36.
- Stein MB et al. COMT polymorphisms and anxiety-related personality traits. 2005;30:2092-2102.
- Gilbody S. et al. Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase (MTHFR) genetic polymorhphisms and psychiatric disorders: A HuGE review. 2007;165(1):1-13.