Depression, Anxiety and Mental Illness

Is it all in the mind?

Modern living with its fast pace, time pressures, long working hours, insufficient physical activity and sleep, are common factors used to explain the clinical conditions of anxiety or depression. There is no doubt that individual circumstances play an important role in how we feel following the death of a loved one, a separation or ongoing financial concerns. Scientists have documented changes in one's hormone levels affecting adrenaline, serotonin, neurotransmitters and some immune markers affecting important enzymes of the muscle and nerve cells. A history of prolonged depression has been linked with an increased risk of cancer. The fact that some people experience mood changes depending on what they have eaten raises the question of whether there are other factors in the human chemistry and lifestyle, which might predispose or even cause mental illness.

Possible Causes

  • Simple intolerance to some common foods is known as food intolerance. Expert help is needed to identify these items and control anxiety. Food intolerance has been associated with mood changes in several clinical studies. In most instances, it is a reversible phenomenon.
  • The depletion of some essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals is another common factor, which complicates the problem and requires nutritional supplements. Modern food production involves the regular use of chemicals (fertilisers or pesticides), which results in lowering the levels of important nutrients the body requires.
  • Mood changes can occur as a result of frequent contact with common environmental chemicals ('volatile organic compounds') such as air-fresheners, hair sprays, deodorants, perfumes and many others, which have this effect on susceptible individuals, known as Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.
  • Depletion of hormones and substances used in the nervous system as important neuro-transmitters has been associated with mood changes. Over- or under-active thyroid, dopamine and serotonin are common factors, critical in one's psychological wellness. Serotonin is the substance targeted by many modern antidepressants, which aim to alter its availability in the brain cells.
  • The absence of an abundance of natural (sun) light is associated with "seasonal affective disorder" (SAD)
  • Decreased regular physical activity may also be a contributing factor in anxiety and mood changes.
Having suffered from severe anxiety and panic attacks for the last six years, I have never considered the negative effects that my diet may have been having on my mind and body.

Treatment for Stress, Anxiety and Depression

  • With specific tests and dietary advice, we identify factors such as food reactivities, fungal problems or chemical sensitivity.
  • Blood tests can accurately reveal deficiencies of important nutrients.
  • We guide you on how to correct these factors to return to mental wellness. (See Food Intolerance and Nutritional Tests & Supplements).

Clinical Trials re: Mental Illness

The following is a sample of papers to give a flavour of some of the evidence to support the view that allergy, environmental medicine and nutritional medicine have a major role to play in modern medical practice.

Review: Nutritional therapies for mental disorders
Nutrition Journal 2008. View article

Contact us if you have further questions or to make an appointment for a consultation.