Over the last few years I have had great success augmenting antidepressants with the prescriptive medical food known as Deplin. Surprisingly many doctors are not aware of this product and even fewer are actually using it. As many already know, depression is thought to be associated with an imbalance of the brain neurotransmitters- serotonin, norepinephrine and/ or dopamine. The antidepressants used today typically work on one or more of these three neurotransmitter systems.
Unfortunately, some people only achieve a partial response to these anti-depressants and do not achieve complete remission. This can result in a poorer long term prognosis and an increased likelihood of future relapse. It is now thought that some of these partial responders may have low levels of L-methylfolate in the brain and may benefit from L-methylfolate supplementation.
L-methylfolate helps the brain to naturally produce more of the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. Low brain methylfolate levels could be due to inadequate folic acid intake, certain chronic diseases (i.e. diabetes, hypothyroidism, cancer, Chron’s disease etc.), oral contraceptives and anti-seizure medication use, smoking, excess alcohol, pregnancy, anorexia and/ or poor nutrition. Interestingly, about 70% of those with depression may have a genetic factor that limits the body’s ability to convert folic acid from the diet to L-methylfolate in the brain. L-methylfolate is the only usable form of folic acid that can assist in the production of the neurotransmitters linked to depression.
To best increase the folate levels in the brain, one needs the active form of folate which again is L-methylfolate. Deplin which contains this active form of folate is able to cross the blood brain barrier to assist in the production of the neurotransmitters thought to be low in those suffering from depression. As a result, Deplin often helps your current antidepressant work better. My experience using Deplin with my patients has generally been very positive. I find it not only boosts the antidepressant response one is getting from their current medication, but also helps to increase energy levels as well.
Since Deplin is not a drug, but a medical food, it is extremely well- tolerated and side-effects are generally not an issue. Many patients may notice a beneficial response after only 1-2 weeks with the full effect taking up to several weeks. Even though Deplin is not a drug, it does require a prescription. Talk to your doctor to see if Deplin may be right for you
Mon, August 23, 2010
by Dr. Gary Casaccio