“The best wealth is health,” said the Roman poet Virgil. You may also have heard, “You can have all of the money in the world, but if you don’t have your health, you have nothing.”
Our most recent health crisis has surely made these quotes true. Mental Health of America has shared some alarming statistics that include:
- Nearly 50M or 19.68 % of American adults experienced mental illness in 2019.
- 4.58% of adults report having serious thoughts of suicide. This has increased every year since 2011-2021.
- 10.6% or over 2.5 million youth in the U.S. have severe major depression.
- 11.1% of Americans with a mental health issue are uninsured.
- 8.1% of children had private health insurance that did not cover mental health services totaling almost 1 million children.
What are Anxiety and Depression?
They are two different conditions, but they commonly occur together. Having the blues occasionally is normal, and everyone experiences anxious feelings at times. These are a common response to a stressful situation. It’s when those feelings become severe or ongoing that you may want to get to the root cause of the trigger. If you or a loved one shows early signs of depression, seek out a practitioner who can help.
1 in 4 people are affected by mental health illness at some point in their life. What and why are these staggering numbers increasing each year?
Research suggests that the microbiome (a community of microorganisms including viruses and bacteria) in your intestines may be related to brain functioning. By this definition, if your gut bugs are out of balance, and/or your intestinal lining permeability is enough to “leak” toxins into your bloodstream—guess where that gunk goes? It travels via your veins, your organs, and straight to your brain. Think of an ice cream headache. News travels fast!
How are the Gut and Brain Connected?
Sometimes referred to as your second brain, the gut communicates with your brain both physically and chemically.
The graphic below shows how your gut health can affect your mental health, or visa versa.
Antibiotics ~Not~ to the Rescue
What happens when you have an infection of any kind and you go to your general practitioner? You have an ear infection from too many summer hours spent in the pool, you get chronic sinus or respiratory infections, strep throat, urinary tract infections, acne, and the list goes on. What do all of these infections have in common besides a weakened immune response? They all are prescribed a 10-day round of antibiotics. Exposure to broad-spectrum antibiotics prescribed for the treatment of infectious diseases is one of the most common environmental factors which can affect the microbiome (Mayer et al., 2014).
It’s public knowledge that antibiotic resistance is a real thing. Compounded years of taking these flora destroying medications, along with other environmental factors can contribute to the leaky holes in our gut. In fact, more than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur in the US each year.
A study including 5,244 subjects, none with diagnosed or reported anxiety or depression suggests that particularly male children who received antibiotic treatment for an infectious disease, may be at increased risk for future anxiety or depression. The mechanisms behind this outcome due to the disruption of the microbial balance in the gut. More research is needed to determine which, if not both the chicken (the infection) or the egg (the antibiotics) came in first place as the trigger for anxiety and depression.
Inflammation and Depression
70% of our immune system is located in the gut. Maintaining the proper balance of diversity is important so we can fight off infections, possible chronic disease, and psychosocial stressors. Research shows us that those residing in urban areas exposure to inflammatory responses are greater than those who are hunter-gatherers (think Paleo) or have a diverse agricultural-based lifestyle. “You are what you eat” has never been truer.
Go with Your Gut
Probiotics are live bacteria that are similar to the ones that are already in our gut. You can find them in fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi. They’re also in supplements. Along with testing, probiotic treatments may provide potential support and preventative measures for depressive and anxiety disorders. Researchers think that probiotics might work by affecting the way the brain and the gut communicate. Not all pre and probiotics are made equal. Talk with Dr. Ian or your practitioner to see which one may be right for you.
If you suffer with anxiety or depression and have a history of antibiotic use, give us a call to schedule a new patient exam at Dr. Autoimmune. We now have remote care options, so wherever you are, you can still receive great care and achieve results.