As you know, there are many potential causes for depression, and many factors which may contribute to it. One potential cause of depression that hasn’t received a lot of media attention is systemic yeast overgrowth.
Most women are familiar with yeast “infections,” but women aren’t the only ones who are at risk for systemic yeast overgrowth. Anyone can be affected, including men and children. Anyone who has ever taken antibiotics, birth control pills, or steroids, and/or who has a diet high in sugar, carbohydrates and alcohol may be at greater risk than the rest of the population.
Antibiotics destroy the beneficial bacteria in the intestines which are necessary for proper digestion, disturbing the natural balance of intestinal flora (or “good bacteria”). This creates an environment where the yeast organisms multiply very quickly. According to Carolyn Dean, M.D., co-author of “The Yeast Connection and Women’s Health,” as this process continues, the intestine lining weakens, and the increasing amount of yeast in the system creates cravings for simple carbohydrates and sugars, upon which the yeast feeds. This also suppresses the immune system.
As the overgrowth continues, toxins may enter the bloodstream. Two of the toxins which are products of yeast metabolism are alcohol and acetaldehyde. This is where depression enters the picture. In her article entitled, “Depression and Yeast” on JigsawHealth.com, Dr. Carolyn Dean explains, “When acetaldehyde reacts with dopamine, it can cause mental and emotional disturbances such as anxiety, depression, poor concentration, and feeling spaced-out.”
Dr. Dean reports that depression and fatigue are two of the most common symptoms of unbalanced intestinal flora. As the yeast continues to proliferate, depression and anxiety become more severe.
Dr. Dean states in "Depression and Yeast," that according to Dr. William Crook, co-author of “The Yeast Connection and Women’s Health,” ridding the body of a systemic yeast overgrowth is not a simple task. It takes months of making life changes, including avoiding antibiotics, birth control pills and steroids. Also, eliminate all sugars, simple carbs, and fermented products from your diet. Chemicals of all kinds should also be avoided as much as possible, as they can damage the immune system.
Your diet should consist of fresh, preferably organic, meats, fish, and vegetables. Fruit should be limited because of sugar content. Dietary supplements are an important part of the treatment. Probiotics (friendly bacteria) must be taken to replenish what has been destroyed by drugs. Digestive enzymes must be taken to aid in digestion. A good multivitamin, as well as calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and essential fatty acids, are also very important. Garlic and biotin are also very helpful. Exercise, fresh air, and sunshine are also strongly encouraged, as they all help boost the immune system.
Depression and anxiety are only two of the myriad issues related to systemic yeast overgrowth. It can also cause problems such as acne, arthritis, gout, IBS, psoriasis, asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, and many others. However, yeast overgrowth is a condition that your doctor will probably never diagnose unless it manifests as a "female" yeast infection, or a rash in moist areas of the body. Even then, it will be treated with an antifungal, which will only inhibit the yeast enough to get rid of the symptoms. There are also antifungal pills, but as with the creams, they only scratch the surface of the problem. They do not treat the systemic aspect of the illness.
If you have taken antibiotics, especially long term, or have any of the other risk factors for yeast overgrowth, try the suggestions listed in this article. If you have questions about any of the suggested supplements, ask a knowledgeable person at your locally-owned health food store, or a holistic practitioner.
There is no “magic pill,” so it's up to you to rid yourself of the mighty adversary called yeast. This organism has ways of fooling your immune system into ignoring it, which is why it is so hard to kill.
Your health is your responsibility. Don’t buy into the idea that if your doctor didn’t tell you about it, or if she didn’t write you a prescription for it, it doesn’t exist. There is a good chance that ridding your body of a yeast overgrowth might not only help, or even cure your depression, but also do away with many of your other ailments. It takes lots of work, but if you stick with it and are successful, you might feel better than you’ve ever felt. It’s certainly worth a try.
Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D. “Depression and Yeast.” JigsawHealth.com, 2010.