World Suicide Prevention Day: Why are some people more prone to depression?

Suicide is the last refuge for a person who is extremely depressed, believing there is no other way out of an unbearable present. Many more individuals have become depressed and anxious, as a result of the pandemic - the loss of social contact, of a stable income, of loved ones as well as the fear of falling behind academically, have all played a role.

However, we must ask ourselves why some individuals are much more predisposed to developing serious depression than others? What is it in their make-up that means they are so much less resilient to the inevitable stresses and difficulties we encounter in life than others?

Some are simply ‘thinner skinned’ than others, due a specific immaturity which they may have in their nervous systems, called ‘The Moro Reflex’. This early infant startle reflex serves a survival purpose in the first few months of life. Any sudden event, such as a loud noise, a bright light, a sudden touch, a change of position or of temperature, will result in a baby throwing out their arms and legs, inhaling, holding their breath and then crying and trying to cling on. Adrenaline, cortisol and oxygen floods through the system and the mother is alerted to potential danger. However, this response should have gone by the time a baby is a few months old. If an adult has a retained Moro reflex, it means they are left hyper-sensitive to everything - to touch, to sounds, to light, to textures; they are permanently in a state of anxiety, lack confidence and find it extremely hard to cope with change. They may develop phobias, as their spatial awareness skills are compromised, so fear of heights, claustrophobia, agoraphobia, driving phobias may ensue. The lack of resilience is hard-wired in and can only be overcome by carrying out specific neurodevelopmental exercises in order to inhibit the moro Reflex once and for all.

Wooden Scrabble squares spelling out mental health
There are, in fact, five very different types of Depression, each one requiring a different approach to treatment.

Another reason some people may be more prone to depression than others, is to do with their biochemical blueprint - the particular balance of biochemistry they were born with. The work of Dr William Walsh of the Walsh Institute in the US has pioneered our understanding of the underlying biochemical causes of depression. There are, in fact, five very different types of Depression, each one requiring a different approach to treatment.

The problem with the existing medical approach to treating depression is that antidepressant medications are prescribed, in the absence of any biochemical testing, as a ‘test and see’ approach. The standard antidepressant used is called an SSRI (Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor). This works by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain. However, this only helps with 38% of the depressed population - those who are ‘undermethylators’. If you give these same medications to someone with a different type of depression - an ‘overmethylators’ (some 20% of the depressed population) then you make the problem much worse to the point of potentially triggering suicidal or homicidal thoughts and actions. It is interesting that in 18 out of the last 20 school shootings in the US, the perpetrators had recently been prescribed SSRIs.

Dr Walsh states clearly that he is not against antidepressant medications per se, but that it is essential to first TEST in order to identify the type of depression you are treating. The Walsh Approach, which we specialise in at The Key Clinic, is much more targeted and precise. We carry out blood tests to identify the cause of depression and then treat using highly targeted nutrients, rather than medication, in order to rebalance the biochemistry of the brain. This may take slightly longer than using medications, but the lab tests mean we can advise re the best medication types for acute cases of depression and then reduce dependency on these over time, as the Nutrient Therapy effects begin to kick in.

A young woman in a therapy session, talking to a female practitioner
We carry out blood tests to identify the cause of depression and then treat using highly targeted nutrients.

A final, interesting and often overlooked contributing factor to suicidal thoughts/depression, has to do with the way in which someone hears. A famous French ENT doctor - Dr Guy Berard, first began to notice a pattern - that those with extreme, suicidal depression tended to have a distinct hearing pattern called a ‘2/8 curve’. This curve meant that people were hearing these two particular sounds, at 2000 and 8000 Hz much more loudly than other sounds, particularly in their left ear and this, in turn, was having an ongoing, grating effect on the right hemisphere, a bit like the drip drip drip of water torture. Most importantly, this appears to be a causal factor of severe depression, rather than a side effect of being depressed.

By carrying out a 10 day course of Auditory Therapy, designed to ‘take out’ these spikes in hearing, Dr Berard was able to successfully treat many individuals who were referred to him by psychiatrists with suicidal depression - the depression often lifting completely on the last day of treatment. While there are no substantial quantitative studies to back these findings up, our experience clinically at The Key Clinic, is that this finding always proves accurate and that treating the way in which someone hears, always improves their outlook on life.

So, when we think about depression, susceptibility to suicide and trying to identify those individuals who are more at risk than others, we need to move the thinking beyond “it all in the mind”.

The brain is a biological organ which does not exist in isolation. It inhabits the body and there can be many, very specific physical factors which can drive the brain into deep depression. By targeting and treating these factors, we can help turn things around and create longer term resilience.

To find out more about the therapies available at The Key Clinic, click here.

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