Understanding Anxiety & Depression Through Functional Medicine

Understanding Anxiety & Depression Through Functional Medicine

Understanding Anxiety & Depression Through Functional Medicine

If you’ve ever been diagnosed with anxiety or depression, you know that there’s a lot of stigmas attached to those diagnoses. You might also feel like your condition is a personal failing, and that you’re the only one who suffers from them. But the truth is, anxiety and depression are incredibly common conditions, affecting millions of people every year. And while there’s no one-size-fits-all cure for them, functional medicine can offer a new way of looking at and managing these conditions. So if you’re struggling with anxiety or depression, please keep reading – this post could be life-changing for you.


Majority of patients I see are struggling with mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Some of them may not even know that they’re suffering from it.

We need to be thinking about these questions in terms of mental health:

  • What affects the brain? 
  • What’s going to affect the brain physiologically?
  • What’s going on there?

One of the things that functional medicine looks at, which traditional medicine does not typically look at, is what foods you are eating which may be causing inflammation and eventual malfunction of the brain.


Certain inflammatory foods can be very damaging to the body and can affect it. You might’ve heard of the saying that goes “ When the gut is on fire, the brain is on fire.” Maybe you haven’t, but it’s common and it’s in the literature. Inflammation in the digestive tract can affect the blood-brain barrier, affecting the neuro-transmitters that go on in the brain.


Sometimes, people don’t have enough nutrients in their bodies because of inflammation. This can be a problem for people with mental health disorders or who are struggling in some way. It is important to find out which deficiencies are happening in these cases. Usually the question a lot of doctors will look at include: What is the serotonin level? Do we need to make sure that serotonin stays in the synapses longer so we can get all those feel-good chemicals produced in there?


When we think of the nutrients, we also think of the levels of serotonin, dopamine, and gabba working along with them. We take into consideration medication and how the traditional medical model looks at that direction. We also need to put in mind what minerals and vitamins maybe you are deficient in. These are some things that functional medicine will look into.


Functional medicine explores what nutrients are you not getting that are causing the brain to not work as well as it could. The goal of functional medicine assessments is to figure out what might be causing your moods to not work properly. This can involve looking at different tests and data in order to find an answer.


Certain tests I like to run, as we look at the whole person perspective, is stool testing. This test tells us what is going on with the gut environment. Are you digesting properly? What is in the stool including the microbe content? We look to see if there are any harmful things in the body that need to be removed so that the digestive tract can work properly…

Other tests we can do, like micronutrient tests, is a blood test that looks at the nutrient status outside in the plasma of the blood, as well as inside the blood cell. This checks the overall metabolism of micronutrients on a cellular level. What’s going on outside, what’s getting in, and what’s going through the membrane to get the nutrients into the cell are all carefully examined.


Other tests that we can consider would be basic blood work. In particular, we do a CBC (Complete Blood Count), a CMP (Comprehensive Metabolic Panel), and a lipid panel. An iron panel and a thyroid panel are also taken into consideration to see how they affect brain function. We are looking at all the different details of those tests. Everything can be interconnected.

There’s also genetic testing that we could look at to see what genes and/or polymorphisms you may custom-have based on what you inherited. We will need to know what’s going on with those genes and how are they working effectively. Genes make enzymes, enzymes do things.


There might be certain things that are not being done in your body and maybe it’s a genetic component. And you know what? You’re not destined to your genetics. We can learn from what things are co-factors for certain genes. Moreover, we can help give and promote the function of those genes to help clear neurotransmitters thereby helping keep them in the synapse longer.

Functional medicine is a holistic approach to healthcare that takes into account all the factors that influence your health, from your environment and lifestyle choices to your genetics. It can be a powerful tool for managing conditions like anxiety and depression. If you’re interested in learning more about how functional medicine could help you manage your mental health, we’d be happy to schedule a discovery call with you. We’ll discuss your symptoms and explore how functional medicine could provide relief. Thanks for reading!

If you haven’t joined our Private Facebook Group, please do HERE 

If you’re looking for a more natural way to manage your health, please contact us for a discovery call to see if our approach would be appropriate for your situation.




DISCLAIMER:  The information in this email is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content is for general informational purposes only and does not replace a consultation with your own doctor/health professional 

About Enlighten Functional Medicine

Known for her successful treatment of mystery illnesses, Dr. Emily Hecker and her team at Enlighten Functional Medicine combine an integrative, functional medicine approach with the appropriate lab testing.

Our unique approach to diagnosing and treating diseases and disorders recognizes that lasting health depends on resolution of the root causes of your disease. Click here to learn more »

Scroll to Top