In the early 1950’s, the medications used to treat the symptoms of depression were those with anticholinergic agents that were known to have psychiatric effects—chlorpromazine, thioridazine, and levomepromazine. Following this, and into the 1960’s, drug development took a step forward with the discovery of the monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), iproniazid, tricyclic antidepressant (TCA), and imipramine agents. However, due to several adverse side-effects, dietary restrictions, and drug interactions, MAOIs quickly fell out of favor. As research continued into the 1970’s the importance of norepinephrine and serotonin grew. However, by the 1980’s, drug development had shifted its focus onto serotonin, primarily. This was largely due to the approval—and then withdrawal—of bupropion, a norepinephrine/dopamine uptake inhibitor. As a result, in 1987, fluoxetine—more commonly known as Prozac—became the first FDA approved selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).

Since the 1980’s, different claims have circulated regarding other potential causes for depression—besides the neurotransmitters previously described. One such claim that has grown in popularity is that depression is gut-related. In a new study, published in Columbia University’s Journal of Gastroenterology, it describes how to help correct specific gut abnormalities that are linked to mental illness. According to the research, the abnormalities are a growing problem around the world—especially in nations that rely heavily on processed foods.

For most, it may come as a surprise to learn that 95% of the body’s serotonin is produced in the gut, not the brain. One commonality that connects the gut with depression is constipation. More than ⅓ of humans suffering from depression also have chronic constipation. This combination accounts for more than 2.5 million doctor’s visits, and over 100,000 hospitalizations every year. What’s worse, many antidepressants also cause constipation on their own.

According to Emeran Mayer, “serotonin affects not only intestinal functioning, but also sleep, pain sensitivity, mood, appetite, and well-being.” It is clear that “emotions are not a ‘brain-only’ phenomenon,” despite the medical treatments being distributed as such. In the study at Columbia University, the team of researchers evaluated serotonin’s role in constipation in mice. What they discovered was that a shortage of the neurotransmitter was indicative of a dour mood. When they raised serotonin levels in both the gut and the brain, the mood was elevated, and the depression was alleviated.

For most, this research is interesting, but it still may be unclear how to overcome depression from their gut. For now, since the research is still new, all that can be done is simple diet alterations and the elimination of processed foods, and continuing with normal medications. However, this is only useful if serotonin is considered to be the source of the problem. If it is not, there are alternative treatments that attempt to treat the symptoms of depression through different neurotransmitters, such as glutamate, which is how ketamine treats depression.

Contact Interpersonal Advanced Treatment

Interpersonal Advanced Treatment offers a full spectrum of psychiatric treatments to patients suffering from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD and many other mental health disorders. If you are interested in learning more about depression treatment options available at our Midwest ketamine clinic locations, please request a free consultation using the brief form below. A member of our team will reach out to answer any questions you may have.