Some Interesting Tools for Depression

Elsewhere on this blog, I’ve written/drawn about my mental and other health problems, and in particular about how I found out, 15 years into treatment, that I had a B-12 deficiency. What was so frustrating to me about this discovery was that:

  • B-12 deficiency has been a known cause of depression for 70 years
  • The test is simple
  • The treatment is simple, cheap, and has no side effects — it’s a water-soluble vitamin

and in particular,

  • NO ONE tested me for this over the course of 15 years!

And now, having experienced B-12 deficiency for a long time, I find I need massive amounts of B-12 shots just to get me back up to “normal.” **

In Applied Grace, I suggested a simple protocol that all mental health providers should use to Rule Out the Simple Stuff. But if your health care isn’t up to par, what then?

Enter: 23andMe.

There are a million different potential causes for mental health issues. BUT, a LOT of mental health issues have a genetic component.

Right now, you can get a test on 23andMe, and download the zip file with raw data. You can then upload that data to Promethease, Genetic Genie, and Found My Fitness (among others). They’ll tell you things like whether your body is bad at methylation and needs more B-12 and methylfolate. Whether you don’t absorb or process Vitamin D very well. And other useful stuff!

When I did these tests, I think I spent a total of about $30 after my 23andMe testing, and it was very useful. Some of the results even indicate things like, “probably responds poorly to __________ SSRI.” Wouldn’t that be great to know, before trying to take that SSRI!?!? Seems like the kind of thing it would be useful to know before going on medication, amirite?

So, this is what I recommend to all people struggling with mental health issues. Worst case scenario, you find out something else that’s useful, like a tendency towards diabetes or celiac. Best case, you’ve equipped yourself with the tools for a real change in how you feel.

Should actual “doctors” being doing this for everyone these days? Yes. Are they? Hell no.

So do it yourself, you’ll be happy you did.


** Pretty much the same exact story in non-cartoon form is told in a Wall Street Journal article this year. Long story short: chronic B-12 deficiency makes certain functions in your body deteriorate, which makes you need even more B-12. After a lifetime of deficiency you’ll end up in catch-up mode.