Depression – multiple cases

Typical Patient History: 

There are several common scenarios that produce depression in patients today, all of which are ultimately preventable and treatable through targeted therapeutic nutrition.  This requires determining a proper balance of fatty acids, amino acids, minerals, and vitamins which are all required to ensure a properly functioning and stable neuro-biochemistry.   

The most common cause of mild to severe depression Paragon now sees is the result of an unbalanced “mostly vegetarian” diet –  which can be: 

  1. too high in dairy products, copper, and calcium relative to important nutrient counterparts, and which:  
    • slows patient metabolism 
    • contributes to an underactive thyroid, and 
    • contributes to emotional behaviour; 
  2. lacking balanced protein, particularly if the patient does not know how to mix vegetarian foods to assure adequate protein intake; and/or 
  3. too high in carbohydrates and refined carbohydrates.  

Regardless of whether one is vegan, vegetarian, or eating meat, a lack of balanced protein intake affects neurotransmitter synthesis and function necessary for stable mental function.

Also very common, a deficiency of omega 3 fatty acids can cause depression, as additional sunlight required for full energy and mental health is stored in the multiple double-bonds of omega 3 fatty acids.  These fatty-acids are required for any person working in any environment and/or living at any latitude with limited year round exposure to adequate sunlight.  They are critical to enhancing oxygen transport & utilization within the body and are necessary to generate higher levels of energy required to meet the challenges faced in life.  Scientists at the National Institutes of Health associated the increase in depression in North America during the last century with the decline in consumption of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) during the same period.  Although many stresses of modern life contribute to the prevalence of depression, Joseph R. Hibbeln, M.D., and Norman Salem, Jr., Ph.D., concluded in 1995 that the "relative deficiencies in essential fatty acids may also intensify vulnerability to depression."  They also pointed to lower rates of major depression in societies that consume large amounts of fish, a key dietary source of DHA.  North American and European populations showed cumulative rates of depression 10 times greater than a Taiwanese population that consumed a lot of fish.  The Japanese, whose diet is rich in fish, have a significantly lower prevalence of depression compared to North America and Europe.43 Belgium researchers at Antwerp's University Hospital found that seriously depressed patients had lower omega-3 fatty acid levels than mildly depressed patients.44

As well, patients who do not eat a properly balanced diet and consume too many junk foods can first succumb to anxiety, which is often initially misdiagnosed as depression.  However, such anxiety left untreated can ultimately lead to depression if the grind of that daily anxiety gets to be too much for certain individuals.

Uncontrolled stress and/or substance abuse can deplete the body of nutrients leading to depression and other mental illness and problems.  

Treatment usually advised:

Paragon normally uses a patient interview and HTMA to determine whether there are absolute and/or relative mineral imbalances and/or other food deficiencies which are known through clinical research to predispose the subject to depression.  If the results of such a preliminary analysis are inconclusive, or if the patient continues to suffer depression after preliminary treatment, we next recommend comprehensive metabolic testing to properly asses (1) fatty acid balance, (2) amino acid balance necessary for proper neurotransmitter function, and (3) other important bio-chemical function supporting normal neurological function. 

(Note: Toxicity problems related to modern pollution affect most foods found higher in the food chain.  The potential for concentration, or bio-magnification, of toxins is significant and cause for concern.

The US EPA estimates that fish can accumulate up to 9 million times the levels of PCBs in the water in which they live and feed.45 Moreover, half of the world’s fish catch is fed to livestock (including farmed fish), where toxins get further concentrated again by the animals eating them.46 

As well, because the vast majority of industrial chemical production is petroleum derived, many toxic compounds are fat-soluble and can store in fatty tissues.  These residues concentrate in fat based animals at the top of the food chain.  It has been estimated that 90-95% of all the pesticide sprayed on conventional food concentrates in meat, fish and dairy products, or animals highest in the food chain.47 We are the highest such animals.

As humans (and animals) have not evolved the necessary enzymes to efficiently process such toxins, we do not have much capacity within our lymph systems to properly process synthetic foods or compounds that enter our body.  A build-up of synthetic compounds can interfere with or block the body’s normal biochemical function. 

While many fish are normally high in healthy fatty acids and detoxifying sulfur amino acids, the vast majority, including swordfish, tuna and farmed fish, are now too toxic in mercury to eat.  The explosion of coal-fired power generation in Asia and America has caused mercury levels in fish and the environment to climb dramatically in just 15 years.  

Smaller fish, like anchovies and sardines are still relatively low in mercury.  Ocean perch, wild salmon, and wild canned salmon were both still very low in mercury when tested in 2006 by the EPA.  Krill oil is a clean rich source of Omega 3s, but may cause reactions in those allergic to shell fish.  

All farmed fish is 10-20 times higher in heavy metals and other bioaccumulated toxins than wild species, and should always be avoided.  The same applies to all large predator fish.   For the most recent and accurate information on mercury content of fish sold in the USA see http://www.gotmercury.org/   

Flax oil provides an excellent, clean vegetarian source of ALA necessary to synthesis EPA and DHA for optimum brain health.  It needs to consumed with other nutrient cofactors involved in the synthesis of EPA and DHA.  

ParagonSciences recommends that whenever possible eat organic foods, especially when eating meats, dairy products, and any fats & oils, which can contain undesirable hormones and accumulated pesticides.  Eat only wild fish that you know is low in mercury.)

Typical Results:

Healthy foods and nutrients exert powerful effects on the brain.  As does effective counselling when there are added emotional stresses contributing to the patient’s problems.  We try to address any case in the most holistic manner possible.

In most cases an immediate improvement is seen in the patient.  More difficult cases require more time, often because the patient needs to develop good habits and this tends to take longer with some individuals, as once they start feeling better they can forget they need to continue eating and living in a more sustainable manner.  Such patients can suffer setbacks if not carefully monitored and coached to help them develop the discipline to eat, think, live, and sleep well.


43 http://www.fi.edu/learn/brain/fats.html#fatsbuild 
44 Journal of Affective Disorders 1996;38:35-46
45 Robbins, J.  Diet For A New America, Wallpole, N.H., Stillpoint Publishing, 1987
46 Ibid
47 Ibid