If you struggle with feeling hopeless, sad, or otherwise mentally fragile, you're not alone. More than 60 million Americans—that’s about one in four—are affected by mental health issues every year.
But I believe that conventional medicine, with its symptom-based medicine approach, tackles depression completely wrong. Rather than determine what might actually be causing that depression, many doctors immediately reach for their prescription pad. That explains why one in 10 Americans today uses antidepressants.
But while drugs can be lifesaving in many cases, conventional medicine fails to address the underlying causes of depression and why they differ from one person to the other. Instead, they label the disease and approach the treatment identically—even though the cause of that disease may be radically different from person to person.
Ultimately, drugs like antidepressants don’t cure the disease; they just mask the symptoms.
As a functional medicine doctor, I take a different approach to depression by trying to understand what creates it. To call someone depressed says nothing about the underlying causes that create depression.
I believe the key to this new paradigm is this: Depression is not in our heads. It is in our bodies. When we fix the body, we fix the brain. Our energy, memory, focus, and joy all increase, and depression will likely fade away.
The functional medicine approach to depression is quite simple. We eliminate things that cause imbalances in core systems and provide our body things it needs to heal (like good food, vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fats, and hormones when necessary).
While simple, this approach requires digging deep and connecting patterns. Of course, you might still need therapy or medication. Just don’t assume these will entirely cure the problem if you still have underlying issues.
Without oversimplifying it, here are a few factors that could contribute to depression: