It is not unusual for a new patient who has been treated for Depression, to tell me that her mother had the same problem or that “Depression runs in my family”. Somewhere along the way some doctor told them that Depression is genetic.

The text of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), psychiatry’s billing manual, supports this position by saying “a family history of depression would suggest a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder rather than a Mood Disorder due to a General Medical Condition.” The tone of the DSM would indicate that the family history clinches the diagnosis, no need to look any further or to consider possible medical factors.

When I perform the medical testing and evaluation, I find that instead of having hereditary depression, what the family members often have is a hereditary medical condition such as Hypothyroidism or Allergies. The symptom of depression that the patient is suffering from may not have any hereditary connection at all but could be caused from a hormone imbalance or nutritional deficiency.

Depression is a symptom of Hypothyroidism. If your thyroid is not working properly, you will feel depressed, tired, you will gain weight and have any number of other physical symptoms that are often misdiagnosed as Depression.

Studies find that more than 70% of depressed patients have allergies and the first antidepressants were actually antihistamines. One doctor said, “Unless allergies are treated, depression will remain.”

There are literally hundreds of medical journal articles that show an association between nutritional deficiencies and depression and as women, it practically goes without saying that our hormones have a huge affect on how we feel.

Without the appropriate medical evaluation, one can never know if they have received an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

To give someone a diagnosis of depression without giving her a complete medical work-up seems to be the new way of practicing medicine. It is certainly quick, easy and cheap to do so, but in my opinion, it just isn’t good medicine.

I was taught in medical school to look for and find the real underlying cause of a medical problem, not to just cover symptoms with drugs. Sure, it takes a little longer, but I find that in the long run, finding the real cause of depression and treating it, is actually less costly to the patient.

If someone is already taking an antidepressant, it is important that they never stop the drug abruptly. Withdrawal from an antidepressant must always be done slowly and under a doctor’s supervision. That’s because abrupt withdrawal can increase the risk of side effects like suicide.

Is Depression really genetic? I think it is more likely that the families suffered from “genetically” deficient medical treatment, the kind that is characterized by insufficient evaluation and testing. As a result, generations of women live their lives with the belief that their genes predetermine their mental state.



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