Candida and Depression

"Sam" originally came to my office for severe depression. He fantasized about suicide but frankly did not have the energy to go through with it. 

I knew very soon into our interview that his gut was a mess. He awoke with a gurgling stomach and a run to the bathroom. He avoided eating to delay stomach upset (a common symptom that often looks like an eating disorder but really is symptom control). He endured near constant stomach cramping and self-medicated with sugar, candy, beer, and marijuana in the evenings.

Because candida lives on sugar it can cause severe sugar cravings. Combine that with low serotonin levels and cravings for sweets and simple carbs compare to the worst drug cravings possible. 

Sam's test results revealed that he had very high candida levels and two different strains. Everyone has some candida in their gut. It can overgrow for a variety of reasons, however, the most common reasons are 1) antibiotic use and, 2) the standard American diet - processed food, fast food, plenty of white flour and sugar. In men, the symptoms are slightly different than in women and can include:

  • Memory issues

  • Depression

  • Brain fog

  • Digestive issues

  • Toenail fungus

  • Rash

  • Increased food allergies and/or sensitivities

How can an overgrowth of yeast in the gut cause depression? The simple answer is that candida suppresses serotonin (our "everything's ok" neurotransmitter) and, one of its metabolites (acetaldehyde) binds with dopamine (our "I want to get out of bed" motivation neurotransmitter) causing lower levels of dopamine. 

Because Sam's symptoms were severe, I made sure that he had already been tested for any gut-related diseases (most people with gut symptoms that I see have already been tested for everything that Western medicine tests and have ruled out disease).  I then had him do a GI-Map stool test. Often candida is a symptom of another gut-related issue like parasites or worms and these must be ruled out prior to any recommendations. 

Lowering Sam's candida overgrowth by using anti-fungals, botanicals, and dietary changes has started him on a path to healing and getting his life back. He reported being "decently depressed" at our first follow-up after treatment. For him, this was a huge improvement. There is more work to do, including healing the gut, providing nutrients, and balancing neurotransmitters.