Depression Overview:


  • More common in women than men
  • Theories to the causes of depression
    • Biogenic amine hypothesis
      • This states that depression is caused by a deficiency of monoamines, particularly noradrenaline and serotonin. 
    • Upregulation and downregulation of receptors is another theory
    • There are other theories as well. 
      • Second messenger systems


Depression is very common, yet remains fairly misunderstood. Although treatments for depression are available, both naturopathically and through pharmaceutical therapies, the biochemical mechanisms responsible are inconsistent and difficult to confirm. 

there are several theories as to what is causing depression, the most prevalent and well accepted of which is the biogenic amine hypothesis. This theory states that depression is caused by a defficiency of the monoamine neurotransmitters, which includes dopamine, serotonin, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. The focus has been on serotonin and norepinephrine (also called noradrenaline). 

Other theories involve upregulated and downregulated states of neurotransmitter receptors rather than the neurotransmitters themselves. Second messenger systems are also suspect, and makes up the most complex and hardest to test and understand of the theories. 

+ Major Depressive Disorder

One or more major depressive episodes lasting 2 weeks or longer.

+ Dysthymic Disorder

2 or more years of depression (more than half the time) accompanied by 4 or more additional depressive symptoms not included on the MDD criteria.

+ Substance Induced Depressive Disorder

Direct consequence of drug, toxin, or other somatic treatment for depression.

+ Post Natal Depression

Hormonal changes after pregnancy resulting in depression. Often the result of these hormone changes in combination with nutrient deficiencies, sleep deprivation, and genetic predisposition.

Post natal depression usually begins slowly over the course of a few months. In some cases it can be disabling, interfering with the ability for the mother to care for herself and the baby.


Special Considerations:

  1. Much more prevalent in women then men. 
  2. High cortisol will eventually lead to a reduction in serotonin, giveing a mechanism for long term stress in depression based on the biogenic amine hypothesis model. 


Increased or Decreased Appetite

Low Libido



Bowel Dysfunction




Therapeutic Aims:



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Differential Diagnosis:

  • Depressive Disorder
  • Major Depressive Disorder
  • Dysthymic Disorder
  • Bipolar I Disorder
  • Bipolar II Disorder
  • Mood Disorder Due to a Medical Condition
  • Substance-Induced Mood Disorder

Herbs For Depression

  • bacopa
  • Schisandra
  • Damiana

Nutrients For Depression:

  • Nutrient dense whole food
  • Protein
  • Essential fatty acids
  • Exclusion of alcohol, caffeine, sugar and chemical foods
  • B vitamins
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin C
  • SAM-e
  • 5-HTP
  • Chromium (if indicated)


Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

Updated: April 2018

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