Lots of people think mood only relates to serotonin levels in the brain, but that’s only part of the story.
Think of it this way:
Your brain is connected to the rest of your body. So your mood depends on the right balance of nutrients, hormones, and other chemical messengers throughout your entire body—including your gut, thyroid, and immune system.
This is not an exhaustive list, but to give you some examples, here are 5 root causes of mood issues that we investigate when taking a functional medicine approach.
1️⃣ Hormonal Changes
Low thyroid hormone is a well established cause of mood problems. Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone also influence mood. The only way to know for sure is to test.
2️⃣ Chronic Inflammation
Many studies have linked inflammatory cytokines with mood problems—even when the source of inflammation is outside the brain. It’s thought these cytokines pass through the blood brain barrier.
3️⃣ Poor Gut Health
Did you know that the microbes inhabiting your gut produce hundreds of neurochemicals—including 95% of the body’s serotonin? These chemicals influence both digestion AND mood, through what’s called the gut-brain axis.
4️⃣ Disrupted Stress Response
Cortisol is the hormone our bodies make in response to chronic stress, and studies link disrupted cortisol levels with mood. We can test cortisol levels in the saliva to observe its cyclical pattern over the course of a day.
5️⃣ Suboptimal Nutrition
Serotonin, dopamine, and other neurotransmitters are made out of amino acids from protein. The enzymes used to produce them depend on vitamins and minerals, like magnesium and vitamin B6. I’ll share another post all about nutrition and mood!
I know to some people, it may sound crazy to consider these seemingly unrelated issues when somebody struggles with mood.
But I’ve seen it time and time again.
A whole-person approach is the most effective way to get results that last.
If you or somebody you know is struggling with mood, please know that we can help. We are accepting new clients, and getting started is as easy as scheduling an appointment online!