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Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

Transforming Fatigue & Depression

Mar 27, 2015 04:48PM
by Dr. Chas Gant

Fatigue (also known as chronic fatigue syndrome) and depression (also known as a mood disorder) are both common diagnoses described as collections of various symptoms. Most adults have occasionally experienced some of these symptoms or have observed them in others, but what if these symptoms become a chronic part of everyday life? What is causing this and how do can it be reversed to experience a life filled with natural vitality, strength and mental/emotional balance?

To begin, it is important to rethink the term diagnosis as “to describe the cause(s) of a problem as opposed to merely describing a problem’s symptomatic appearance.” This opens the door to interventions which address root causes and provide sustainable solutions, as opposed to palliative efforts which merely cover up symptoms and obscure the causes.

The physical causes of chronic fatigue and depression can be diagnosed with in-depth, modern laboratory testing and they fall into various categories, including:

  • Nutritional, such as an essential fatty acid deficiency (omega 3s) or a mineral deficiency (magnesium or iron).
  • Metabolic imbalance, such as hypoglycemia caused by a deficiency in glutamine (an amino acid in protein).
  • Toxicities, such as mercury (otherwise known as “mad-hatter syndrome”) or alcohol abuse.
  • Infections, with a bacteria such as Lyme or a fungus such as Candida.
  • Allergies, such as gluten (wheat) sensitivity.
  • Lifestyle factors, such as sleep patterns, diet, exercise patterns.
  • Genetic vulnerabilities to all of the above.
This is not to suggest that psycho-emotional causes don’t exist, or that psychotherapy, prayer, yoga or meditation is not effective in dealing with depression and fatigue. However, addressing fatigue and depression through these tried and true methods works much better if the physical causes listed above are handled first.

Psychotherapy, prayer, yoga, meditation or even psychiatric drugs, are less likely to be effective if the nutritional deficiencies, metabolic imbalances, toxicities, infections, allergies and genetic vulnerabilities are not addressed.

When the root causes of depression and chronic fatigue are not diagnosed and treated properly, many people resort to psychotropic drugs, such as alcohol and tobacco (legal drugs), psychiatric medications and illicit substances. Who can blame them? These substances temporarily short circuit the brain’s natural coping neurotransmitters that may be deficient.             For instance, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) may artificially boost serotonin levels in the synapses (junctions between neurons or brain cells), but the brain compensates over time by making or releasing less serotonin. Those who resort to such medication usually find themselves back in their original state within a several weeks. The same is true for the brain’s natural nicotine (acetylcholine), the brain’s natural Valium (GABA), the brain’s natural amphetamines (dopamine) and the brain’s natural heroin (endorphins).

Why do the brain’s natural neurotransmitters become depleted or burned out in the first place? The answer is stress, which takes many forms: metabolic stress, toxic stress, allergic stress, immune stress, psycho-emotional stress (interpersonal, financial, academic, etc.), the stress of chronic pain syndromes, the stress of starvation for essential nutrients like protein, essential fats, vitamins and minerals, even “electro-smog” stress from Wi-Fi’s and microwaves.

Stress uses up our coping hormones and neurotransmitters, which can leave us fatigued and depressed. It’s no wonder that drugs are so popular and that drug abuse is the number one cause of death, with tobacco alone killing nearly a half million Americans per year.

Even if the symptoms are identical, each person suffering from depression or fatigue has a completely unique pattern of causative metabolic imbalances, toxicities, nutritional deficiencies, allergies and/or infections. Each person suffering from depression or fatigue also has a completely unique pattern of genetic quirks called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) which can be inexpensively tested and identified. Of course, each person has a different set of psychosocial stressors and lifestyle patterns as well.

Fatigue and depression take a huge toll in human resources. The technologies to determine the physical causes are available, covered by most health insurances and are currently underutilized. Many don’t know that they exist at all, and believe that the only options are medication and psychotherapy. It is time to get the word out that solutions for fatigue and depression are at hand.

Dr. Chas Gant, MD, Ph.D., is an author, physician and educator, specializing in functional medicine, molecular health and healing. For more information, call 202-237-7000, ext. 120, or visit

To hear Dr. Chas speak on this topic, attend a free seminar/webinar at 6:30 p.m. on April 23 at the Smith Center, 1632 U St. NW, Washington, D.C. For more information or to register, visit





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