This article is provided for educational purposes only and does not attempt to provide medical advice. The information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem, and those seeking medical advice should consult with a licensed physician.
Your body and mind are interconnected. In therapy, we focus on working with your mind in a way that can have benefits on your physical health. At the same time, there are a number of physical factors that may affect your mental wellbeing. Addressing (or not addressing) these could greatly affect your progress in counselling and are worth discussing.
Every human body contains a balance of macro- and micronutrients that are required for healthy functioning, however, sometimes this balance is off. There are a number of reasons why this might be, including genetic and epigenetic factors, an unhealthy diet, stressful life events, or environmental toxins. As such, your body’s ability to process food might not be where it’s meant to be. Despite having what you believe to be a healthy diet, it’s possible you might be deficient in some nutrients while having an excess of others.
Here are some of the most common biochemical imbalances that might be affecting your mental health:
Methylation is a biochemical process that happens in every human cell, especially in the liver. It plays a critical role in gene expression and repair, and it influences detoxification, hormone regulation, and neurotransmitter production. In particular, its role in neurotransmitter production is what makes methylation status so important for your mental health.
Many individuals with high anxiety or panic tendencies, hyperactivity, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or depression tend to be overmethylated. These folks may have been underachievers in school, and they often struggle with upper body pain, nervous legs, low libido, sleep disorders, food and chemical sensitivities, and may have artistic or musical abilities. People who are overmethylated are usually tested low in histamine with deficiencies in folate and Vitamin B12, while testing high in serum copper. They often do well on high doses of folic acid, B12, B3, B6, zinc and manganese.
Those with obsessive-compulsive tendencies, perfectionism, competitiveness, high-achievement, eating disorders, addictions, phobias, and delusions are often undermethylated. Many of these individuals have a calm demeaner with high inner tension, ritualistic behaviours, high metabolic rate, high libido, and seasonal allergies. Undermethylated folks often test high in histamine and folate with a low methyl to folate ratio. They usually benefit from supplemental methyl donors including SAMe, methionine and inositol, and they tend to do well on calcium.
Kryptopyrroles are a waste product associated with hemoglobin production in the body. When the body doesn’t properly remove kryptopyrroles, severe deficiencies of zinc and Vitamin B6 can develop. As a result, someone with pyrrole disorder can suffer from severe inner tension and anxiousness, episodes of anger and explosive outbursts, poor stress tolerance, mood swings and reactivity. They are usually easily upset by criticism, are argumentative, have poor dream recall, an inability to tan, digestive problems, abnormal fat distribution, stretch marks on the skin, white spots on the nails, and a sensitivity to light and sounds. These individuals do best on B6, zinc, and omega-6 fatty acids, while doing poorly on omega-3s.
Poor Metal Metabolism
Due to impaired functioning of the metallothionein protein, the body can develop an inability to process copper, zinc, manganese and other trace metals. As a result, many individuals with this imbalance have elevated copper, which can cause hormonal imbalances, ADHD, behavioural disorders, and hormone-related depression. Poor metal metabolism often leads to further nutritional deficiencies and excesses. Treatment involves stimulating the production of metallothionein using trace metals, avoiding estrogen supplements, avoiding drinking water from copper pipes, as well as limiting high copper containing foods or foods and supplements enriched with copper.
Your mental health can be greatly impacted by the adjustment of even a single nutrient. There is great benefit to undergoing biochemical testing and treatment to supplement your psychotherapy journey. Of course, when it comes to your health, please do not attempt to diagnose or treat yourself. Be sure to consult with a medical professional who can advise you in this process.
Your doctor and therapist can work together to support you in your journey towards enjoying better mental and physical functioning.
For Further Reading:
Biochemical imbalances: What are they? (2016, February 27). Retrieved from https://www.mensahmedical.com/what-are-biochemical-imbalances/
Methylation; why is it important for mental health? (2023, March 24). Retrieved from https://foodforthebrain.org/methylation-why-is-it-important-for-mental-health/
Walsh, William J. (2012). Nutrient power: Heal your biochemistry and heal your brain. Skyhorse Publishing.