Updated: Jul 23
Note: This article was written in 2017 after a traumatic brain injury. It was updated today on July 23, 2021, to make sure all links are working and to update the info presented in Dr. Rostenberg's blog essay.
Yep. I said it. CURE. I never woulda thunk it, but after months of trial and error and a staggering amount of research, I stumbled upon a natural course of supplements that has worked to cure my major depressive disorder, which was accompanied by intense anxiety. Since I started the regimen in 2017, I have been depression-free.
As a quick background, I have suffered with clinical depression on and off since I was a young teenager, with one major bout in 2004 and the second in 2017 after a traumatic head injury. Because I also have a blood clotting disorder, it seems that any med I take for anything at all causes side effects, and that includes antidepressants. In 2017, I stumbled upon two bits of information that proved to be life-altering when it comes to depression -- the first being about the MTHFR genetic mutation, and the second about the miracle of fermented supplements.
I'm not exaggerating when I say that my results with this type of supplementation has been astounding, and since 2017, I go back on it when I feel that depression may be creeping up again. Within days, I'm am almost always depression-free, and I'll stay on the supplements for a week or so until symptoms improve. After that, most often I am depression-free for very long periods of time...maybe even a year--or longer. If and when the depression does return, it is mild, so it responds even quicker to the supplements.
As I know anyone suffering from depression is eager for me to just cut to the chase, let's just dive in. If you're suffering from depression, here's what has worked for me.
1) I began taking L-methylfolate once I discovered that I have two defects on the MTHFR gene, which is a hot topic in the depression community these days. Apparently, if you have any defects on this gene, you are 500 times more likely to get depression and anxiety, mainly because your brain isn't processing folic acid properly. But taking ordinary folic acid isn’t the answer and, in fact, could make you worse. (Note that this type of gene defect is hereditary, as opposed to acquired. More on this in a minute.)
Instead you must take the L-methylfolate form, which can be purchased over the counter. I buy the Bluebonnet brand as it’s a food-based vitamin as opposed to being synthetic (like the pharmacy brands), which the body doesn’t absorb nearly as well, if at all. In fact, any supplement I take these days is food-based (meaning fermented), and I’ve noticed dramatic results.
If you google “MTHFR and depression,” you’ll find an incredible number of hits as there’s currently much research on the subject, but I would recommend that you first check out this article by Dr. Andrew Rostenberg, then read the rest of his site (and watch his videos). His work is a scientific marvel and I’m profoundly grateful to have found him and his team. (Dr. Rostenberg goes into great detail about this gene defect being acquired.)
I consulted with one of the doctors on his team, Shana Alexander, and we came up with a wonderful nutritional regimen that had me depression- and anxiety-free within a few weeks. His site is a great place to start.
2) Check out the marvels of fermentation. If you were to try just one supplement on my plan, I would highly recommend that you take “New Chapter’s 40+ for Women Multivitamin” (regardless of your age) which is a fermented supplement that also contains a number of herb blends. I don’t know what it is about this particular vitamin, but when I tried any of the other New Chapter varieties, like their “55+ for Women,” I did not get the same results, and a number of people (even someone at the company) said that the 40+ version was a completely different formulation.
If you’re a man, I suppose it couldn’t hurt you to take this vitamin (why would it?), although you might want to compare the labels of their “For Men” varieties and see if they’re similar. All I can say is that when my depression was milder, all I needed was this one vitamin one time a day to relieve my symptoms. When my depression was more severe, I took two of these vitamins per day, in divided doses (with my doctor’s okay) as the dosage is so low, along with the other supplements recommended by Dr. Alexander, which I’ll share at the end of this essay.
As I had such great results with fermented vitamins, I decided to add in fermented foods to my diet, as well, especially after I learned that Japan (which eats an extensive diet of fermented foods) has just a one percent depression rate, while the French population clocks in at 14 percent.
I’m absolutely addicted to kefir, a yogurt drink that has billions more probiotics than ordinary yogurt. I also enjoy kimchi, a Korean cabbage salad, and kombucha, a fizzy drink. You’ll find that different brands of kefir have varying amounts of tartness, so test them out to find out your preference. The Evolve brand is quite smooth, while Trader Joe’s is quite tart (except for the mango flavor). In my opinion, I love them all.
3) Here is a list of other supplements I took after my head injury depression (ordered from Metagenics) when it was at its worst, per Dr. Alexander:
UPDATE 7/23/2021--In the link I provide above to Dr. Rostenberg's blog essay, you will see that at the end of his article he has a quick list of five supplements that are from NutriDyn now instead of Metagenics. (I completely trust anything his office recommends.) They are a great way to get you started, although I would recommend you add in the New Chapter Multivitamin and Bluebonnet Methyfolate (links below) as well.
The list here, however, is from Metagenics and was my customized plan from Dr. Alexander in 2017--almost identical to what is listed in Dr. Rostenberg's article today in 2021. A consult with his office is about $200, so if you don't want to spring for that just yet, try either what he suggests in his essay or the supplements listed below. The most important supplements, in my opinion, are the ones from New Chapter and Bluebonnet. (Frequently, they are the only two I take.)
Methyl Care 120C
D3 5000 120C
OmegaGenics DHA 600 Concentrate 90C
UltraMeal Advanced Protein French Vanilla (14)
Glutagenics Powder (60)
New Chapter 40+ for Women Multivitamin (from Amazon -- different amounts are available)
Bluebonnet L-Methylfolate (from Amazon)
The Methyl Care contains L-methylfolate, but I take two extra pills of the Bluebonnet brand (1000 mcg each). I also take Magnesium, Vitamin C and other assorted supplements when the mood strikes me, but as of this moment, I’m only taking the New Chapter 40+ for Women Multivitamin and two Bluebonnet L-methylfolate tabs, as my symptoms are under control.
4) Try adding in Deplin, a pharmaceutical form of L-methylfolate. My friend, who takes Celexa, added in Deplin and she has been depression-free ever since. It’s a 7.5 mg pill, so she takes it every other day, as Dr. Rostenberg believes that lower doses of folate work better. My friend has found that to be true, as well. If you don’t want to go the vitamin route, but are only doing moderately well with your antidepressant, taking Deplin every other day might be a big help. Personally, however, I would go with the Bluebonnet brand.
5) One thing I haven’t mentioned in this essay is therapy, and believe me, that’s huge. I was in therapy for many years, with great results, but this past summer, when I fell off of a ladder and sustained a traumatic brain injury, I developed a major depressive episode three weeks after (this happens to over half of all TBI patients). It started with late-day depressions, then morphed into full-day depressions, and put bluntly, it was awful.
While therapy is great, my point here is that my summer depression had nothing to do with my emotions or mindset. Despite being in the hospital for over a month, my mood was good, so this depression was purely medical, which is what I’m focusing on in this essay. Therapy is a wonderful and life-changing endeavor, whether you are depressed or not. But if you ARE depressed, I’m hoping the tips in this essay will help you as much as they have helped me.
Note: Scroll to very bottom of page to leave a comment.