The Role of L-Methylfolate in Depressive Disorders
Major depressive disorders are one of the most common mental illnesses we see today and affects millions of lives every year. In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that nearly 17 million people above the age of 18 suffer from these disorders each year -- and that’s not including the nearly two million children.
Depression is an extremely serious condition. It’s far more than just feeling unmotivated and sad about life. People with depression feel this consistently with no relief. It affects their demeanor, daily activities, career, relationships, family, and so much more.
To add to the difficulties of these disorders, there’s no real “one-size fits all” solution or treatment for depression. Some will find relief with medication and some will find success with therapy, but others will struggle to find any help at all.
The good news is we continue to learn more about the illness and find new ways of possibly treating and preventing depressive disorders, allowing many to return to the higher quality life they’ve been missing.
One supplement that has been turning a lot of heads and raising attention is L-methylfolate. It’s actually been known for quite some time; however, it was recently discovered that some people might suffer from a mutation that damages the body’s process in producing L-methylfolate.
Before we can fully understand what L-methylfolate does for depressive disorders, we first need to understand what depressive disorders are and what causes them.
Different Types of Depressive Disorders
Depression can be experienced in a variety of ways, it may depend on the level of depression in the person. While most people suffering from depression will be grouped into one of two categories -- clinical depression and general depression -- but the different types can go much beyond that.
In fact, there are as many as seven different types of depressive disorders, and here is a brief explanation of each:
- Major Depressive Disorder - when you hear someone refer to clinical depression, this is what they’re referring to. It will generally be diagnosed when someone experiences depression symptoms consistently for longer than two weeks at a time.
- Persistent Depressive Disorder - also known as dysthymia; persistent depressive disorder will show up from time to time, but will always come back eventually. Most people suffering from this type will have had it for at least two years on and off.
- Manic Depression - most people will understand this type of depression as bipolar disorder. It’ll consist of its highs and lows, but will resemble a rollercoaster of emotions.
- Depressive Psychosis - this type of depression will introduce hallucinations and delusions. People will experience moments where they lose touch with reality during stages of depression.
- Perinatal Depression - a depression that is experienced during pregnancy before the child is born. Most mothers-to-be that experience this will start feeling it four weeks before childbirth.
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder - this severe type of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) will often mimic the symptoms of depression and will lead to extreme sadness that gets in the way of ordinary life.
- Seasonal Depression - believe it or not, it is possible to be diagnosed with depression related to certain seasons or season changes. For the most part, people will experience this towards the end of fall and into the winter.
As you can see, depression comes in many forms and there can be a wide range of people that are going through it without knowing, or without an official diagnosis.
It’s always important to keep an eye out for the warning signs -- both in yourself and in those you love -- so you can try to mitigate the effects or severity depression.
Depression and the Brain
While scientists are still unsure of a clear-cut reason depression exists, they have learned a lot from studying the brains of those suffering from it. There seem to be four major reasons that someone might experience depression -- stress, genetics, irregular biochemical reactions, and hormone imbalances.
There will essentially be three areas of the brain that will have an effect on depression -- the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, and amygdala. Let’s take a closer look at each one:
- Hippocampus - in addition to helping the body store memories, the hippocampus plays a major role in the regulation of cortisol. When your brain receives too much cortisol, which is released in times of stress, it can cause symptoms of depression.
- Prefrontal Cortex - the hippocampus isn’t the only part of the brain that shrinks when too much cortisol arrives, the prefrontal cortex will as well. This part of the brain is also essential to regulating emotions, decision-making, and memories.
- Amygdala - a hyperactive amygdala will result in irregular hormone balances and make it difficult to sleep, focus, and feel happy.