What You Need to Know About Depression: MTHFR Mutation Symptoms
Many people don't know that depression is one of many MTHFR Mutation symptoms
MTHFR mutation SYMPTOMS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT
I could tell he had no idea what to do with me. I knew he didn't have the confidence to break up with me. He was scrambling, throwing any idea that came to mind in my direction. As he scanned yet another lab report, he said off-handedly, "Well you definitely don't have the MTHFR gene mutation," and I believed him.
I would have to be the one to break it off with yet another doctor I had stumped. I was a difficult case, I knew, and it was time to move on. He was a great doctor who helped a lot of women who fit in a certain category of issues, and I didn't fit. That was our last appointment.
I had heard a little here and there about the gene mutation that looks like the mother of all swear words, but never considered it something I should investigate. For several years I had visited doctor after doctor, read and researched, dug and investigated, experimented and prayed. I had tried every protocol I came across. I was diligent in every attempt, and I had spent a fortune trying to recover my health. So much for the college funds, kids.
I couldn't live the rest of my life feeling so awful; I wasn't really living. I wasn't digesting my food, I had lost half my hair, I sat in my chair all day trying to summon some energy to get through the after-school whirlwind. I had chronic stomach pain and bloating. I had insomnia. There was very little I could eat without feeling really sick. I was always freezing cold.
I had gained some insights from the various practitioners I had seen. I learned I had severe adrenal fatigue. I was hypothyroid, anaemic, borderline diabetic, severely malnourished (despite a pristine organic diet), my hormones were out of whack, I had fatty liver disease, pancreatitis, gallstones, and those are just the highlights.
But there was one big symptom that everyone, including me, missed. I had crippling depression. Several awful things happened successively, and my health was a shambles. That was enough to leave me in the state I was in. I was having a very hard time, but there was more to it than that. Looking back I recognize the specter of depression, though it's impossible to tell where the health issues started and the depression ended.
I finally found a group of health practitioners who immediately recognized the root cause of all of it: I had several of the MTHFR mutation symptoms. Not only that, but as they scanned the very same blood lab report that my previous doctor had reviewed, they saw evidence of the gene mutation. I had elevated homocysteine levels, for one, low B vitamins for another.
They told me they were 99% sure based on my symptoms and the labs that I had the MTHFR gene mutation, but because I wanted perfect confirmation - no more guesses - I insisted on a gene test. My insurance covers specific gene tests with a doctor's order, so I left their lab with a big purple bandage on my arm that day. My results came back homozygous for the C667t gene, which means I have two copies of it.
This made me want to get the whole picture, so I went to Ancestry.com and ordered 8 DNA testing kits, one for every person in the family. When I got my results I found out I'm homozygous for more than one more mutated methylation gene. Translation: I'm a hot mess.
MTHFR mutation symptoms include a lot of problems such as (I've starred the ones I had): insulin resistance*, weight gain*, recurrent miscarriages*, fibromyalgia, allergies*, chemical sensitivity*, spina bifida, anxiety*, depression*, insomnia*, heart disease, hypertension, infertility*, cleft palate, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), asthma, heart murmurs, tongue tie, heart attack, placental abruption, cancers, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's, epilepsy, brain fog*, high homocysteine*, inflammation*, trouble losing weight*, glaucoma, diabetes, hypoglycemia*, atherosclerosis, blood clots, dementia, bipolar disorder, stroke, pre-eclampsia*, schizophrenia, irritable bowel syndrome*, Parkinson's, chronic fatigue syndrome*, addictive behaviors such as alcoholism/smoking/drugs, autism, OCD, deficits in childhood cognitive development, fatty liver disease*, gall bladder problems*, pancreatitis*, migraines, and more that continue to be linked.
What is mthfr and methylation?
I'm not qualified to give an in-depth explanation of what the MTHFR gene mutation means, but I can give you the essential summary for this discussion. This gene mutation means I don't produce the enzyme required to process B vitamins correctly. My body has trouble unwrapping them and completing the methylation cycle, which is necessary for so many chemical reactions that need to happen in our bodies. They estimate I was getting about 5% of my B vitamins. That's bad, y'all, and among the many, many MTHFR mutation symptoms I had, maybe the most crippling was the depression it caused. The depression was a boulder I was trapped under so I had very little energy or will to fix the rest of it. A fantastic explanation of the two main MTHFR gene mutations and what they mean is here.
mthfr and depression
Six months before, I had hit depression rock bottom and had discovered Niacin, which is vitamin B3, as my last attempt to live. The trouble was I had started at 2,500 mg of Niacin, but in order to maintain the results, I had gradually had to increase my dose. It's like my body was using it faster and faster the more active I was. I was up to 10,000 mg of niacin a day when I arrived at this clinic. That's...a lot.
My doctor put me on a methylated B vitamin complex, which means it is already unwrapped and ready for my body to use, or bioavailable. I was gradually weaned off the niacin because taking the two together isn't necessary or helpful.
The mutation also means my liver doesn't work right. It doesn't filter or detox the way it should, and it doesn't process fats well. They put me on some liver support supplements and a very low fat diet to help my liver. The detox problem means that I also don't metabolize hormones well. I'm naturally estrogen dominant (I make too much), and on top of that, my liver can't get it out of my body efficiently. The excess estrogen was a major contributor to my depression.
As we went through the process of getting my diet and supplements right, I could tell when the estrogen started to spike because I felt, for lack of a better word, crazy. Angry, depressed, irrational. I knew I shouldn't feel that way. I knew I was overreacting, and yet, knowing that didn't change anything. It was like being drugged.
That same detox problem means I overreact to all medications and supplements. They are magnified because my liver can't filter them well. I can't hold my Nyquil, folks. Never could. The hormone therapy a previous doctor had put me on had made it even worse because what are tolerable doses for a person without the MTHFR gene mutation is way too much for me.
Over the last year they have tweaked my diet and supplements until my hormones were balanced and I was getting the B vitamins I need. I. Feel. Better. So much better! The depression is gone, and I now recognize if the symptoms of depression start setting in and call my doctor to get things tweaked. The last culprit was DHEA. I was low, and the normal dose that is great for other women was making me crazy because I'm a high converter. My body was converting it to estrogen, and my liver couldn't get rid of it along with all the extra estrogen I already make, and that was a recipe for trouble.
For now I feel like I have found the root of most of my health issues. Most of them are MTHFR mutation symptoms. I continue to heal and improve. A year ago I could not have had a blog. I didn't have the energy or health for it. I struggled to make dinner every day or keep up with laundry.
Could this be your problem too?
I sound like an anomaly don't I? In some ways I am. I'm at the extreme end because I am homozygous for more than one methylation gene mutation. But experts estimate that close to 50% of the population has at least one copy of the gene, which could mean you don't feel terrible, but don't feel as great as you could. It's far more common than people realize, and it's a fairly recent discovery. You may also be positive for it, but that gene may not be expressing (turned on). This isn't the kind of thing to self diagnose and treat. You definitely want a doctor's guidance with this.
I’m not a doctor or a nurse or even a CNA. THIS IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE. I’m not qualified to give medical advice. I am sharing a personal experience. If this interests you, gather your facts and go talk to your doctor about it. If your doctor doesn't take you seriously, find another doctor until you find one who does. This has been a journey of YEARS of searching and looking for answers, but it would have been a lot shorter if I'd known what to ask about.
What Can You Do?
There are some things you can do on your own.
- Definitely read about MTHFR and see if any of it rings true. Dr. Ben Lynch is the authority on it and has lots of helpful information.
- You can get a DNA test done through Ancestry.com, and it's usually under $100. They won't send you a report because that has been outlawed by the FDA, but you can upload the raw data they send you to a variety of websites such as promethease.com for a full report.
- Request a full blood panel from your doctor, even if they don't know anything about MTHFR mutation symptoms. You can take the report to someone who does.
- Find a practitioner who knows what they are doing with MTHFR. They can be tricky to find, but worth it.
- Take detox baths at least once a week with epsom salt, baking soda and a few drops lavender essential oil.
- Start dry brushing your skin to help your body detox.
- Don't freak out. As health issues go, this one is usually fairly simple to manage. There might be a journey of finding your perfect protocol with the help of a doctor, but once you get there, it's pretty straight forward.
- Get some exercise and go on walks (if your doctor is ok with that) to help detox your body.
- Remember that having a certain gene isn't a sentence. Not all genes are turned on. Your DNA makes up 20% of your health future, your lifestyle makes up 80% of it. I'm genetically predisposed to alcoholism and have a long family history of it, but because I never drink, I will never be an alcoholic. Diet and exercise and daily choices matter more than your genetics most of the time.
The topic of MTHFR is so huge, it's like trying to cover the topic of cancer in one blog post. My real purpose today was to shine a light on the link between MTHFR and depression. The topic of depression is so important. Please share with everyone. You never know who is silently suffering in the dark. You can read about my battle with depression here. This could be the way back for someone you know or love.
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