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Depression – A Serious Threat to Senior Fitness – Tied to Chronic Inflammation

Depression has been the topic of a series of newsletters crossing my desk, discussing its causes and impact on health, but particularly its prevalence among seniors.

The Blaylock Newsletter makes a tie-in between inflammation and depression in that an overactive immune system, kicking out high levels of cytokines and chemokines, reduces production of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, neurotransmitters that control our sense of wellbeing. He adds, “The brain is particularly sensitive to inflammation for several complex reasons: The brain has its own immune system, one which is intimately connected to the body’s immune system. Microglia are the cells that control brain inflammation and immunity. They are related to the macrophage cells that also help control the body’s immunity. Normally these cells are in a resting state. Should the body or brain be disturbed by virtually anything — infection, trauma, stress, toxins or bad diet — they become active. Once activated, they move about the brain and secrete some very noxious chemicals, including glutamate, a nerve-cell killer, an excitotoxin.”

Studies of depressed patients have shown high levels of glutamate in their spinal fluid, which means that glutamate levels are also high in the brain. Along with depression comes anxiety and irritability. This is especially common in the elderly. This is explained because glutamate also stimulates a part of the brain (the amygdale) associated with anxiety. Lowering glutamate levels in the brain or reducing its receptor’s sensitivity abolishes anxiety. Studies have shown that this part of the brain is especially sensitive to immune activation. He then proceeds to tie the over-activity of the immune system to the general area of vaccinations, warning that we will see increased occurrence of depression and other inflammatory-based autoimmune as vaccinations popularity grows in future years. He proposes that the drastic increase in inflammation-based chronic diseases (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, autism, etc.) in recent decades is evidence of aberrant activation of the immune system by vaccines. That’s tough to prove, but worth serious investigation.

Next came “Alternatives” newsletter, by Dr. David G. Williams, also focused on depression. His title gives the theme – “Depression is not a drug deficiency”. He likewise puts the cause on chemical imbalance, but goes more deeply into the underlying causes of the imbalance. Faulty nutrition, chronic stress (or sometimes an acute stress that is overwhelmingly destructive), lack of exercise and inadequate sleep can be direct causes of depression. The actual progression to depression involves decreased function of the glandular system, particularly the adrenal, thyroid and pituitary glands. As the primary stress gland, the adrenal is the first to be affected, altering the normal rhythm of cortisol and worsening regulation of blood sugar. If the degradation is serious enough then the thyroid begins to malfunction – both hypo- and hyper-thyroidism can result. If the thyroid function goes too far askew then the pituitary, the control/master gland that directs the function of most of the glandular system, loses control of the system, and most of the chemical messengers of the body get scrambled. One of the principle outcomes is depression.

His solution to depression involves several actions. First, change your life to eliminate the stress. Second, drastically increase omega-3 fat intake with respect to omega-6 fats, particularly increasing intake of the omega-3 fat DHA, a major fat component of the brain and required for most glandular and neurotransmitter functions. Third, exercise – start an exercise lifestyle and make it a constant in your life. Fourth, get enough iodine for proper thyroid operation – he quotes estimates that 40% of the US population has an underactive thyroid problem that could be eliminated with iodine supplementation. Finally, he discusses using glandular supplements called Protomorphogens from Standard Process Laboratories to rebuild your injured glandular system.

I know this is just enough information to be dangerous, but if you are taking charge of your health future then you know that the onus is on you to do your own research and find what works for you. Look up these newsletters on the internet, and do the research to find your own answers. The message in both these newsletters is that popular meds for depression only mask the symptoms, and do nothing to cure the underlying malfunction. The body, given the right materials, with adequate freedom from (often self-imposed) stress, can usually fix itself.

Frank Wilhelmi
Frank Wilhelmi

Frank Wilhelmi – Retired/consultant electronic engineer researches and reports practical strategies for optimizing health and fitness into advanced age. “I have a passion for living life to the fullest, and helping others to do the same.” A rapidly growing body of knowledge now enables us to extend our health and fitness decades beyond popular expectations.

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