Depression Insights: Mitochondria Affect Mood

February 26, 2018 | Wellness Resources

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Depression Insights: Mitochondria Affect Mood
If you’re feeling down or depressed, you might be tempted to ask your doctor for the latest antidepressant being advertised on television. Antidepressant use has skyrocketed in America in the last few decades. They are now among the top most prescribed medications. Novel research has found a strong correlation between mitochondrial dysfunction and depression. This is a fresh look at depression and offers new hope for treatment.

What are Mitochondria?


Mitochondria are in every cell of your body and act like your cell’s engines. Mitochondria combine nutrients (fats, carbs, proteins) with oxygen to make energy, called ATP. The process of making energy from calories is called the Krebs cycle. Like money in your wallet, ATP is your cell’s energy currency. It builds up in cells and can be spent as needed to do things. When you run low on ATP, you get tired or fatigued.

Some mitochondrial breakdown is part of the normal aging process, but mitochondrial dysfunction is linked to disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease, stroke, fatigue disorders, chronic pain disorders, cardiomyopathies, migraines, seizures, bipolar disorder, OCD, anxiety disorders, autism, traumatic brain injury/concussions and depression.

Your Brain Runs on Energy


Ninety percent of the cells in your brain are called glial cells (glue cells); the other ten percent are neurons that send signals using neurotransmitters like serotonin. It makes sense to address the needs of the majority of your brain cells if your mood has started to suffer.

For decades, scientists did not know what glial cells actually did. Among the most dramatic breakthroughs in neuroscience was the discovery that glial cells have actual function and do more than just hold the brain together. Glial cells run on energy. They are the primary regulators of neurons and must have enough ATP to tell neurons what to do. This means that your brain uses energy to communicate. If you run low on energy your brain does not communicate and your neurotransmitters do not flow in an optimal way. These discoveries create a new understanding of mental health based on the now proven fact that your overall supply of ATP is the single most important factor determining the health of your mind.

Stress can worsen mood because there is an increased demand for energy in a fight-or-flight state. If you do not have enough ATP on hand you will feel irritable, tired, have a poor mood, and it will seem like the burden of stress is causing wear and tear. Energizing nutrients like coenzyme B vitaminspantethine, and acetyl-L-carnitine can help you sustain energy during stressful times so that mood doesn’t suffer.

Repair Your Powerhouses, Improve Your Mood


When mitochondria are injured, they release free radicals that trigger inflammation and damage tissue throughout the body. When the oxidative stress and inflammation occurs in the brain, mental health suffers. Repairing and nourishing mitochondria is imperative for improving mood.

Some of the very best nutrients for nourishing mitochondria and making new mitochondria include PQQ and coenzyme Q10. PQQ is a unique antioxidant that offers amazing neurological support and shows promise for mood support. It has been shown to protect the brain from too much glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter which can damage mitochondria when there is an excess. Problems with depression and other mood disorders are associated with excess glutamate levels and oxidative stress. PQQ protects the brain from oxidative stress and high levels of inflammation related to the excess glutamate.

Coenzyme Q10 is a critical nutrient for mood. In fact, patients with depression have been found to have lower plasma levels of coenzyme Q10. Low Q10 dampers serotonin levels and cellular energy production. Q10 supplements have demonstrated significant anti-depressant affects and are helpful on their own or when used in combination with antidepressant medications. The ubiquinol form of Q10 is preferable for improving mood and energy production.

You can actually create new mitochondria by upregulating AMPK-enzyme activity. AMPK is the master enzyme “switch” that turns on the birth of mitochondria, called mitochondria biogenesis. Exercise and following the Five Rules of the Leptin Diet are some of the best ways to upregulate AMPK.

Nutrients like resveratrol, curcumin, lycopene and ginger are especially helpful for boosting AMPK activity.
Research also highlights resveratrol, curcumin, NAC, grape seed extract, r-alpha lipoic acid, PQQ, coenzyme Q10, ginger, cruciferous vegetables, magnesium, manganese, B-vitamins, and acetyl-l-carnitine as helpful for mitochondrial dysfunction.

This breakthrough understanding into depression is going to open up remarkable doors. Depression is more than just a neurotransmitter imbalance. It is also an imbalance of energy. Repairing and nourishing the powerhouses of your cells is imperative if you want to improve mood and get to the root cause of depression. Give your brain what it needs and don’t let depression hold you back in life.

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