The depression-leaky gut connection

Over the last decade, medical researchers have published a new model explaining depression as a result of inflammation and presenting alternative approaches for treatment. This model explains that those with depression tend to have a leaky gut which leads to chronic inflammation and imbalances in the nervous system. If you are un-familiar with leaky gut, read my article here for an introduction.  Researchers in Belgium report in the journal Neuroendocrinology Letters the findings that: "patients with MDD [major depression] should be checked for leaky gut ...[and] should be treated for leaky gut."

How do you know if you have leaky gut? There are many ways to assess leaky gut. I prefer to use markers in affordable blood tests. All clients who come for office visits may be offered referrals to a local clinic for these affordable tests if needed. A Comprehensive Metabolic Panel contains multiple markers for leaky gut. Ferritin, the iron stores in the body, may also be used as a single marker for leaky gut. Here are common issues experienced with leaky gut, and they may vary with the individual:
  • Depression/anxiety, brain fog, ADHD
  • Multiple food sensitivities or environmental allergies
  • Getting sick more often
  • Chronic digestive issues
  • Skin rashes
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Auto-immunity
To recover from leaky gut and depression, people often need the following items, in addition to balancing other areas of lifestyle like emotional wellness and exercise.
  • Therapeutic diet
  • Supplements to fix leaky gut
  • Anti-inflammatory supplements
  • Supplements to address nutrient deficiencies identified
In recent years, I have been offerring neuro-transmitter surveys and offering supplements that provide the raw materials for neurotransmitter creation and balance. These supplements are often beneficial for balancing neurotransmitter chemistry while someone is working on healing the body holistically in order to re-initiate neurotransmitter production on her own. Most clients that I see have leaky gut issues and when they also struggle with mental wellness, the neurotransmitter support may be invaluable.

It isn't easy for everyone to overcome leaky gut.  Many people also have chronic subclinical infections that continue to put a strain on their bodies, and these must also be addressed with natural support for the immune system in order to restore optimal gut and brain function. The minimum documented time required to close a leaky gut is three months.  In my experience, it takes several months for the majority of people; less for some but longer for many.  We can monitor a person's progress in her bloodwork and also in how she feels.  With patience, perseverance, and the proper support, leaky gut and depression are often overcome.