I have been getting more and more patients coming in that complain of just being “down.” Simply put, feeling depressed. So, instead of reaching for my prescription pad to put a patient on the latest anti-depressant drug I have found myself ordering some specific labs; I am not a big fan of anti-depressants. There was a recent study showing that if a patient was on a serotonin reuptake inhibitor, which is what most of our anti-depressants are today, for more than 3.5 years then the rate of dementia increases by 54%!

I typically start with a lab to check the patient’s Vitamin D level. Low Vitamin D levels corollate to depressed feelings. I want that level over at least 60; plus, just getting the patient’s levels up typically makes most people feel better. There are a number of studies showing that areas that have less sunlight have lower Vitamin D levels and more depression. If you live north of Atlanta, you make no Vitamin D from the months of November through April because of the angle of the sun in relationship to the Earth. Therefore, the body cannot make Vitamin D so it needs to be supplemented.

The next lab I want to take a look at is the Lithium level. Lithium is the 3rd element on the periodic chart; if the level is less than 0.3 that patient can suffer from depression and/or anxiety. I put the patients on an elemental lithium orotate, NOT the drug lithium. The body needs the elemental lithium (orotate) to make dopamine, which is the brain’s neurotransmitter involved in sleep, happiness, all of the feel-good feelings, and stopping anxiety.

Another step after checking lab work, is to give my patients Intravenous Vitamin C. Why? Because the brain uses electrons to go from serotonin to epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine. To make neurotransmitters, the brain uses Vitamin C because it is an electron donor. I have seen people so depressed that they have been admitted into a psych unit because of suicide attempts; these patients were terribly depressed and crying and shortly after starting an IV of 25g-50g Vitamin C within 25 minutes they had no more depression. A pill doesn’t work that fast!

So, the next time your doctor wants to put you on an anti-depressant show them this article; there are other ways of treating depression! J

John D. Young, M.D.