University of Utah researchers have discovered differences in the way brains work when it comes to young people who have experienced depression.
“There are lots of worried family members, or family members who have already gone through the heartache of losing someone. And there are lots of patients who might have lost hope that there might be good treatments for them,” said Scott Langenecker, professor of psychiatry at U. Health and senior author on the study published last week in Psychological Medicine.
Especially when it comes to those who are medication averse or who want to avoid the side effects of psychiatric medications such as SSRIs.
“Every step we take toward defining some of the biological risk factors for depression and for suicide means we’re one step closer to identifying ways to modify those risk factors.”
Researchers from the University of Utah and the University of Illinois identified differences between connectivity in the brains of those who had a history of depression and suicidal behavior, compared to those who didn’t.
“This research was begun with the idea that we were looking for biological, brain-based measures to distinguish between individuals who might be at risk for depression, compared to individuals who have no risk for depression,” he said.
Using MRIs, the researchers observed that those with a history of depression had differences in connective tissues in the brain. The cognitive control network — which engages “when we want to regulate emotion, or engage in problem-solving, or to refrain from engaging in an impulsive thought or action” — was disrupted in those with a history of depression. Those with a history of suicidal behavior had more disrupted connections in their cognitive control network, Langenecker said.
The findings weren’t what researchers expected.
“It was surprising to find that some of these measures were stable, meaning that they were there the first time we measured them, and then they were there again when we made the same measurements four months later,” he said, adding that the measurements weren’t taken long after they’d been at acute risk for suicide.
Recently, the American Psychiatric Association published a textbook called "Complementary and Integrative Treatments in Psychiatric Practice" which highlighted the use of broad-spectrum micronutrients to successfully treat (and prevent) mood and mental health symptoms. Research shows that the connective tissue in the brain is strengthened by the use of properly balanced micronutrients which can be absorbed into the body and cross the blood-brain barrier.
Each cell performs a unique function in the body. Connective tissue in the brain consists of a group of cells that perform a unique function together in the brain. If that connective tissue is disrupted, the brain cannot function properly. Now over 30 independent medical journal publications support the use of broad-spectrum micronutrients to support mental health, by simply supplying the cells in the body and brain with the exact elements they need to function properly.
While using individual (or several individual) elements to try and achieve a desired health effect is a popular idea, prevailing research shows that simply providing individual nutrients to the body (one at a time) can create other imbalances. This is why the broad-spectrum (or multi-micronutrient) approach has been highlighted by the APA as safe and effective for mood and mental health.
Broad-Spectrum Micronutrient Treatment of Psychiatric Symptoms and Disorders
According to the authors, the most desirable broad-spectrum micronutrients typically consist of:
The authors also note that “A broader range of micronutrients is more likely to provide more pervasive physiological changes, including more wide-ranging enhancements of central nervous system (CNS) activity. Broad-spectrum mineral-vitamin combinations have been evaluated for treating violent behavior and conduct problems, ADHD, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, autism spectrum disorder, and substance use disorders. Broad-spectrum interventions have also been examined in nonclinical (“normal”) populations for improving mood, cognition, sense of well-being, and stress tolerance."
Not only can clinical broad-spectrum micronutrients, such as Hardy’s Daily Essential Nutrients, help support improved mood stability and mental health in those with common diagnoses such as depression, anxiety, ADHD and bipolar disorder, broad-spectrum micronutrients have also been shown to improve mood, cognition and stress in study participants who had no mental health disorder. The very effect of providing the brain and body with the nutrients required for optimal function can make a world of difference, even to those who already eat a healthy diet.