There is a reason why patients coming up against MTHFR for the first time will probably hear about Deplin. It’s classified as a “medical food” by the FDA and approved for use by people with suboptimal L-methylfolate levels. Now, for most people, the dosage of methylfolate found in Deplin (7.5 or 15mg strength) will be way too high, even for people with multiple MTHFR gene mutations. But this prescription dosage exists because it is often prescribed for patients suffering from mental illness, including depression.

is prozac an outdated treatment

Is there an aspect of our health and biochemistry that folate deficiency does not touch? Having the proper amount can determine whether homocysteine benefits us or poisons us, and whether we have the right balance of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. The latter three are neurotransmitters and crucial to mental health. Unaddressed MTHFR gene mutations can become a contributing factor to a variety of mental illnesses. These range from serious and debilitating conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, bipolar disorder, depression, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia and schizophrenia-like syndromes and vascular dementia, to those that, while not life-threatening, still reduce a person’s quality of life. Some examples are forgetfulness, insomnia, irritability, myelopathy, organic psychosis, peripheral neuropathy, prenatal depression and restless leg syndrome. I’ve also discussed the somewhat related conditions of autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) on this blog.

A review of the literature demonstrates that MTHFR is just one factor in the development of most of these conditions. Most mental illnesses are multifactorial in cause with multiple genetic determinants. Major depressive disorder (MDD), for example, has six significant genes of susceptibility: APOE, DRD4, GNB3, MTHFR, SLC6A3 and SLC6A4. Many genes influence schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s and autism. Environment also plays a significant role. A new study, for example, found that epigenetic markers related to methylation can determine which trauma survivors develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Stress can be inherited and affect later generations. Patients with MTHFR 677CT who experienced traumatizing childhood events may have a more difficult time recovering from depression. As always, our genes tell one story while our environment and lifestyle can heavily influence the outcomes in our own personal journey.

It is also important to remember that, despite getting the most attention, MTHFR 677CT and 1298AC are just two alleles influencing the methylation pathway and other associated processes. Scientists are looking closely, for example, at the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene, which affects dopamine levels. Investigations into the combination of MTHFR and COMT may be even more critical in improving therapies for schizophrenia, among other disorders. Knowing, however, that you have MTHFR gene mutations makes it critical to address them if they are expressing and to be vigilant about your homocysteine levels and methylation cycle functioning. Additionally, if you experience the symptoms of mental illness, even the minor ones, it is essential to explore natural therapies such as increased folate consumption and the correction of methylation cycle impairments. Look for a doctor who is aware of MTHFR and related genetic conditions that may be affecting your mood and health. Deplin used in conjunction with common antidepressants has been found to significantly improve treatment outcomes. Some patients may not even need antidepressants and may instead find relief of symptoms by optimizing methylation alone. Prescription drugs have side effects and ideally a person should not be taking them unnecessarily. As with any MTHFR-related illness, it’s important to explore the non-prescription treatment alternatives that may be available to heal you.

If you have a comment that is related to your own health or have questions that require an answer, please leave these in the community discussion forums and not in the comments below. Thanks! =)

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10 thoughts on “Things That Plague Us: Mental Health Issues

  1. Andrea Jones

    I’m so glad I landed on this blog! After 2 miscarriages (both after having a totally healthy and full term baby girl), I finally did some digging and discovered the MTHFR mutation is at play.

    I’m always amazed and how we are learning more and more about what affects our mental health (answer: EVERYTHING!).

    Thanks again!

    Reply

  2. Courtney

    I was dx’d bipolar disorder 2 years ago (and before that major depression that spiraled downward with the conception of my son) and am SOOOO happy that I am finally, 5 years later, putting the pieces together. While researching alternative medicine for BP I remembered that I tested tested positive for the 1298c mutation and started “googling”.

    As luck would have it I found your site and am so pleased to finally have “some” answers to my health issues. The link to mental health is obvious… yet NONE of my many doctors even knew what MTHFR is. Plus, there is very little information available about the link between the two. I honestly hope that more research is done and made readily available. I wonder if the rise and fall of dopamine is what is causing the swings associated with bipolar. With 20% of those dx’d with BP committing suicide and 90% having failed marriages… this could possibly make a big difference in a lot of lives! Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    Reply

    1. Andrea Post author

      Thank you for sharing your story, Courtney! I had not heard those statistics…devastating. I am so happy that you are finding some answers to your questions and I wish you success on your healing journey =)

      Reply

  3. Jill

    A copper imbalance can also cause many mental health issues. You should check your zinc-copper balance. Zinc should be a bit higher than copper.

    Reply

    1. Andrea Post author

      Thanks for sharing that info, Jill! I understand that copper/zinc imbalances are a huge issue for many people but I didn’t know that mental health was involved. And I just heard today that with leaky gut, zinc is one of the main things that can’t be absorbed so I can imagine that this is a huge silent issue for many people.

      Reply

    2. Andrea Jones

      It’s true! It’s the ratio of the two, not their number alone, that causes issues for a lot of people, and there are many things that can lead to copper toxicity (I believe MTHFR is related to this as well, since we tend to not be able to detox properly). Many of my anxiety symptoms were reduced by taking the appropriate amount of zinc to help eliminate the copper.

      Reply

  4. Kathie

    Great article. I have been hospitalized in the psych unit four times for just wondering, why am I here? I have nothing to be depressed about and yet i’m so solemn. I was diagnosed a couple of months ago compound hetero and have asked my naturopath to test me for other mutations but she is lax and said in a couple of months. In the meanwhile I am taking my vessel care for the mutations and just “existing”. Is there really hope?

    Reply

    1. Andrea Post author

      Thanks for your comment, Kathie! There certainly is hope…but it may require finding a new naturopath. Why the hesitation in finding out about other mutations? MTHFR is not the end-all be-all methylation mutation, nor is the methylation pathyway the only one to be concerned with. You can always test on your own with 23andMe… Good luck!

      Reply

  5. Paige

    Excellent article, Andrea! Very concise, yet informative. You have an amazing gift for writing and a wealth of knowledge, as well! Thank you for another great post.

    Reply

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