Depression and How to Overcome It

By Lawrence Wilson, MD
© January 2012, The Center for Development

Depression is a very common and potentially serious condition. Doctors often define it vaguely as having four or five or the following symptoms most of the day for at least two weeks. These symptoms are:

Emotional symptoms:
Constant sadness or an empty feeling
Feeling worthless or guilty for no reason
Loss of interest in favorite activities

Physical symptoms:
Trouble sleeping
Low energy or fatigue
Significant weight change or appetite change

While these symptoms can be vague, when one learns about nutritional balancing science, the causes for many cases of depression become very clear. Removing these causes makes the depression feelings lift often within weeks or months, without any need for drugs, hormones, or other interventions such as counseling.
A properly performed and correctly interpreted hair tissue mineral analysis or HTMA can identify at least a dozen causes for depression, and guide their correction, as well. Often correction is quite simple, in fact. Someday, I hope, doctors will realize that most depression is often biochemically-based and is amenable to correction in many cases using nutritional balancing science. This article discusses some of the more common biochemical, emotional, mental and other causes for depression and how to correct it.

Warning: Anyone who has feelings of wanting to harm or kill oneself or others should immediately see a qualified doctor for help. Do not attempt to solve these types of depression problems by yourself.


In my experience with literally thousands of people with feelings of depression, by far the most important causes are nutritional imbalances. Here are the main biochemical and nutritional imbalances associated with feelings of depression.

1. Low Energy. Many people feel depressed because they are tired or burned out. Many have what I call adrenal burnout. Depression is just the body’s way of saying it is too tired to want to do much of anything. The body is toxic, nutritionally depleted, and generally the body chemistry is also out of balance in terms of the oxidation rate and the major mineral ratios in the tissues. The adrenal glands and/or thyroid glands are often very underactive. Such people must drag themselves through life, often using stimulants like caffeine, sugar, worry or even use anger as a stimulant just to function. Life is not much fun. This gives rise to negative thoughts and negative emotions. The main one is depression. The body cells may literally send one messages all day long that the body is not well, it does not feel like doing things, and there is little hope. Everything is more difficult when one is exhausted, and the entire world looks bleak. In contrast, when one has so much energy one feels like conquering the world, depression is unlikely.

2. A Simple Need For Rest And Sleep. This can be a simple cause for depression if it is due to simple lack of rest and sleep. This cannot be emphasized strongly enough. The most important factor is often going to bed very early, by 9 PM or even earlier. Sleep a lot more, and see if your symptoms improve. If you cannot rest or sleep well, take extra calcium and magnesium at bedtime, herbs such as valerian, or 5 htp, melatonin, or even a medical prescription drug if nothing else helps. Sleep is absolutely critical for all aspects of health, including your thoughts and emotions. So do not overlook this important and simple cause for depression.

3. Low levels of adrenal hormones. The adrenal glands secrete cortisol, a hormone that provides a natural “high”. For example, professional athletes and others who take cortisone shots for pain often feel a slight euphoria from this drug. This is one reason why cortisone is used for pain control. When the adrenals are exhausted, cortisol production diminishes and the natural high is gone, replaced by achiness, fatigue and often a lowered mood and depression. A simple test for this is whether you are achy in the morning. If you are a little stiff and it gets better as the day goes on, your adrenal glands may be tired out and usually nutritionally depleted. This is extremely common. The reason the aches and perhaps depression feelings improve as the day goes on is that the adrenals may begin to work better as the day progresses, usually due to stimulating them in some way with caffeine, sugar, worry, fear, etc.

4. Low thyroid activity. This is another cause for depression that is extremely common. It is related to nutritionally depleted and exhausted adrenal glands. However, do not take thyroid hormones, in my view, even if your blood T3 and T4 are low. Nutritional balancing programs, with kelp, vitamins, minerals, digestive aids and several other products, can almost always rebuild and detoxify your thyroid so it works properly. It is usually much better than hormone replacement therapy, in my experience. For example, most people need more iodine, and must avoid iodine antagonists like fluorides, chlorides and bromides. We much prefer using kelp as the iodine source rather than other iodine preparations, which are often a little toxic and can build up in the body.


5. High tissue calcium and magnesium. Mineral analyses of the hair of those with depression usually reveal elevated levels of calcium and magnesium. Calcium stabilizes cell membranes and increases the voltage at which nerve cells fire. This effectively has a depressive effect on the central nervous system. This means that you may feel depressed because you have too much calcium in your body tissues. This is an extremely common cause of depression. It is a type of depression in which one often feels a sort of heaviness and numbness in the body. The awareness level may also be lowered, causing one to have odd thoughts and feelings. With the proper nutrition program, this will often go away within a few months. So do not despair about this causes of depression.

6. Copper toxicity. A very common mineral imbalance associated with feelings of depression is elevated copper. This is very common today, due to zinc deficiency, copper in the environment, vegetarian diets, the use of steroid drugs and birth control pills, and due to exhausted adrenal glands. This type of depression is often accompanied by excessive emotions of many types such as anger, rage, frustration and others. Women are somewhat more prone to this cause of depression, and it may be worse around the time of the menstrual period in younger women. Beware that the copper level in the blood, the urine and in the hair can all be normal. To identify copper toxicity, I find the best method is to use what are called the hidden copper indicators on a properly performed hair tissue mineral analysis.

7. Nickel toxicity. Toxicity with nickel is highly associated with a severe type of depression, usually accompanied by suicidal thoughts. Usually anger is present as well. This is a very important cause of depression because one may want to kill oneself when it is present. Amazingly, when the nickel is removed from the body, which can occur within a few months on a properly designed nutritional balancing program, all of a sudden, the depressed and suicidal thoughts just go away, even when one’s life has not changed in other ways. Note that elevated nickel may not show up on the first hair mineral test, as it can be hidden deep within the brain or other body organs.

8. Cadmium and other toxic metals. Depression can also result when other toxic metals are present in excess in the body. These include cadmium, lead, arsenic, aluminum and a dozen others. They contribute to fatigue, aches and pains, and mental sluggishness. Many children are born today with too much of these common metals. They are also found in organ meats, some tap water, junk food, medical drugs, cigarette smoke and in drugs like marijuana especially if smoked. Toxic metals may interfere with energy production, alter neurotransmitter levels and can affect all body systems. Excess copper, mercury, cadmium, lead and aluminum are often found in the tissue mineral tests of those with depression.
Tissue mineral analysis may or may not reveal the presence of these toxic metals on the first or even on a second hair mineral analysis. It may take a few months to a year or more of following a specific nutritional balancing program for the body to begin to eliminate most of a person’s toxic metals, which everyone has today to some degree. This occurs because the toxic metals are usually buried deep within the brain and elsewhere, and will not show up on any toxic metal tests, including urine challenge tests, feces tests, hair or blood tests. In other words, do not assume you do not have toxic metals just because all the tests are normal. This is rarely the case today.
Reducing toxic metals in stages or layers. Eliminating toxic metals is a primary goal of nutritional balancing programs. In my experience of 29 years, they are much better than chelation of all kinds, and far superior to simply taking random vitamin, mineral or other products to remove toxic metals. Nutritional balancing is also much safer.

9. Deficiencies of nutrient minerals, vitamins, amino acids and other important nutrients. This is another critical cause of depression in millions of people today. The rest of this article discusses some aspects of this cause in more detail.
Correct the entire biochemistry for best results. Biochemical factors are very important today as contributors to depression. Correcting body chemistry, which is not the same as using symptomatic remedies, is an important factor in correcting any depression. Even if imbalanced chemistry is not the primary factor, it will enhance the effects of psychotherapy, counseling and other therapies.


Many minerals can play a role in feelings of depression. Zinc, for instance, stimulates the neocortex of the brain, which is the newer part of the brain. When zinc is deficient, it can feel the same a copper toxicity discussed above.
Other essential minerals including, but not limited to manganese, selenium, chromium and others affect carbohydrate tolerance and the body’s ability to regulate glucose metabolism. When these are deficient or unbalanced, this can cause severe fatigue and perhaps feelings of depression. Only through a tissue mineral test can we know all the possible imbalances that are present in these and other common trace minerals in the body.


Problems From Birth. Some biochemical imbalances and deficiencies may be present at birth. These are called congenital imbalances, as they are not inherited in the genetic sense of the word.
Congenital imbalances are those one is born with due to imbalances in one’s mother at the time she was pregnant with you. These imbalances, such as low zinc or high copper, are transmitted through the placenta to the developing child.
Few people realize that any deficiency or excess of nutrients can be passed through the placenta during the growth of the developing child. These will show up on a hair tissue mineral analysis of a young child and is an important reason why depression may occur often today in children.
Children’s Diets. Other imbalances in children are due to vaccinations, a poor quality diet, unhealthy eating habits that impair digestion, stress that impairs digestion and uses up more nutrients, intestinal infections and food intolerance that damages the intestines.

Consuming anti-nutrients. Most people today, especially children, eat some sugar, toxic food additives and other substances that provide basically no nutrition at all, and just contribute to stuffing the body with poisons that cause many problems, including often depression.
Among the worst chemicals for everyone are Aspartame or Equal, along with some colors and flavors if one is sensitive to them. One can have a ‘brain allergy’ which just means that the part of the body affected by the chemical or even a food is the brain.
Consuming anti-nutrients like refined sugar, stimulants such as caffeine, MSG and others, and foods that have been stripped of nutrients like bleached, white flour aggravate deficiencies and open the way for the development of depression in many people.

Vaccines and medical drugs. These always add to a person’s toxic load, and can cause many other nutritional imbalances as well. Most vaccines still contain mercury and aluminum, and many other toxic substances. Medical drugs upset body chemistry and digestion in hundreds of ways.

Stress. Stress always depletes one’s nutrients, impairs digestion and elimination, and damages one’s health in other ways, as well. all types of stress can do this, from too much exercise, or none at all, to chiropractic misalignments, to social, financial, family, school or work stress.


Hypoglycemia and diabetes. The brain is highly dependent on a constant level of blood sugar. When blood sugar levels vary, it causes lowered energy, mood fluctuations, confusion and at these times one can easily feel depressed. Sometimes one feels as though one is on a blood sugar rollercoaster all day long as one’s energy level and mood fluctuate during the day.
Correcting hypoglycemia is often easy with nutritional balancing science. Diet is an important factor. Stopping all sweets and eating some protein and perhaps some fats or oils every three or four hours will take care of some cases of hypoglycemia. Trace minerals including zinc, manganese, chromium and others are also required for blood sugar regulation. Most people are low in these trace minerals.
When hypoglycemia persists for years, it turns into diabetes, another cause of depression. If you think you might have this, visit a doctor to make sure. With diabetes, you often, but not always, will feel tired all the time and need to eat sweets or you will get shaky and even weaker, and you may need to urinate a lot, even during the night.
This is still another physical cause for depression that often is overlooked by psychiatrists and psychologists.

Slow Metabolism. A common finding on the trace mineral tests of people with depression is a pattern indicating a slow oxidation rate and very low cellular energy production. Tissue sodium and potassium levels are usually low and the sodium/potassium ratio may be low as well. When the metabolism slows down, it is usually due to sluggish adrenal gland activity, as explained above.

Fast oxidizer depression. This is another type that is seen on hair tissue mineral tests. The sodium/potassium ratio is almost always less than 2.5, along with a fast oxidation rate. The person often feels stuck in a certain way, unwilling to change, perhaps, or unable to shift into a different mode of thinking and behaving.

Cancer and some infections. Cancer definitely can cause a type of depression. It makes some cancer patients not want to live any more, and they soon succumb to their cancers. Cancer cells, specifically the trophoblast, apparently secretes a chemical substance that causes these feelings. Certain bacteria and other infectious organisms may have similar effects. Nutritional balancing programs slowly reduce the amount of cancer in the body, since most people have some at all times.

Four lows depression. This is still another type of depression that has to do with giving up, often, and a cynical attitude, or being too hard on oneself and others. It is very difficult to alleviate without a properly designed nutritional balancing program, and to my knowledge, it can only be identified on a hair tissue mineral test, and not by other means.

Overgrowth of candida albicans as a cause of depression. This is quite common. Excessive yeast in the intestines, and especially in the brain, produces alcohol that has a naturally depressive effect on the brain. One can feel sort of numb, inebriated or with brain fog in this type of depression.

Brain parasites and depression. In a few cases, parasitic infestation can cause depression. The real cause can be nutrient depletion, or perhaps the parasites secrete poisons that cause the depression feelings. This cause, and the others will be corrected using a nutritional balancing program. It is not necessary to do fancy parasite tests, which often miss some parasites anyway.

Deficiency of essential fatty acids. This cause of depression is a little less common. Today, most people eat a predominance of the omega-6 fatty acids found in vegetable oils primarily. However, they are also found in our meats, poultry, butter, milk and other foods because the animals are not allowed to graze freely on grasses. Instead, they are fed indoors on corn and other vegetable cereals. As a result, the fatty acid content of their meat, dairy and other products are quite different today than they were 100 years ago. The correct fatty acids are important for proper functioning of the brain and central nervous system.


A number of emotions can contribute to feelings of depression. Here are some of the most common ones:

Sadness. This is a common cause of depression feelings. Sadness is associated with feelings of loss, abandonment, fear and worry. On a hair analysis, those prone to sadness often have a very slow oxidation rate and often a high calcium/potassium ratio, an indicator of low thyroid activity.

Anger. Many people who are secretly or openly angry feel depressed. They often know that anger is inappropriate but they may not want to let it go and forgive others, or they may not know how to let it go. Being angry all or even some of the time is also just depressing.

This type of depression is caused by emotions that are basically out of control. One reacts or over-reacts to stimuli that cause severe negative feelings. This is common with copper imbalance, but can be caused by a lack of emotional control. Emotional depression is more common in women, while depression caused by mental aberration is more common in men. This has to do with their mineral balance, hormones and other factors.
The answer to this type of depression is to learn forgiveness and emotional balance by whatever means is effective. Among the best ways is the Roy Masters meditation that we recommend for all adults. Other methods that may help include reading the bible or other spiritual or uplifting books, watching movies or listening to CDs that reminds you to relax, laugh at yourself a little rather than be too serious. Some people may need to talk with a counselor, and always remember that we are spiritual beings having an experience on earth that we will not always understand, so there is no point in over-reacting to everything and everyone.


This occurs when one wants something one cannot or does not have. It is a disappointment of the ego when it cannot have or control the world as it would like. This kind of depression is often rooted in immaturity, fantasies and delusions about oneself or about the world.
This depression is basically caused by beliefs or other types of thinking that are not healthy or are not true, or are not grounded in this reality. For example, one may believe that one deserves to win the lottery. Therefore, one may become depressed when this does not occur.
Playing The Victim. The most important single cause of this type of depression is to feel sorry for oneself. This is also called the victim mentality or “poor me”. This is unfortunately encouraged by liberal politicians, the media and even some religions.
This belief is basically that one is worse off than others and somehow deserves a break or special treatment or even monetary compensation because of one’s skin color, religion, state of physical or mental health, financial condition or other situation or behavior choice.
This type of depression is always basically at its root a mental aberration that can only be corrected by adjusting one’s thoughts and beliefs so that they reflect reality. In fact, there are no victims, but this is hard to believe for many people. The best approach is to know that one is a child of God and there are unseen angels and other beings standing ready to assist everyone at all times.


Some people are depressed because they are living in a way that is not compatible with their deepest nature. For example, one may be in a job that is incompatible one’s nature and abilities. This may apply to the work itself or simply the office associates.
It can also occur in personal relationships that are simply not working well. One person may be more aware than the other, but the more aware person is deferring to the less aware one. As a result, the more aware person is not living the fullness of his or her life, and depression is a common result.
Other types of conflicts can cause depression, including if one is the object of lies, deception, intimidation, threats or physical violence. These causes of depression will not be directly remedied by a nutritional balancing program. However, the program can enhance wellbeing, mental clarity and the vitality or adaptive energy level of a person. We often hear from clients that suddenly they are able to take the necessary steps to resolve their conflicts by, for instance, changing jobs, changing a relationship, leaving a group, or other important actions.
Trauma and depression. This is a large subject. Trauma always reduces one’s vitality or adaptive energy level. This often gives rise to depression, as explained earlier in this article.

Depression in children. Children often become depressed due to conflicts over which they have little control. Many are not compatible with their school environment, for example. At other times, they are not appreciated or possibly misunderstood by their parents or even their friends. This can be a difficult situation that can lead to teen pregnancies, drug and alcohol abuse, runaways, failing grades, violence and even suicide.

Spiritual depression. A type of confusion that occurs in some people and can cause feelings of depression. Dr. Carolyn Myss coined the term “spiritual madness” to describe this phenomenon. It is a condition in which a person becomes aware that the world is not the way one thought. One is becoming aware of new approaches to living, and new ways of thinking and viewing reality. An imbalance occurs as one tries to fit new ideas into old ways of living.

This can be extremely confusing and one must feel one’s way forward gently and slowly. The sense of confusion, uncertainty and temptation to return to old ways can create a type of depressed attitude in some people that is important to be aware of. Please do not to fall prey to the use of drugs or other crutches to pass through this important stage in one’s development, if at all possible. Instead, keep working on one’s health, rest a lot more, ask for help from counselors or others, read more of this website, and in almost all cases you will pass safely on your way. This type of mild depression can occur at multiple intervals as one awakens to more dimensions of reality. One may feel compelled to leave behind old friends, old ways, old relationships, old jobs and so forth. This is, indeed, an important type of depression that occurs in those who are attempting to make positive changes in their lives.


Pharmaceutical drugs. A number of drugs have depression as a side effect. Among the most important are cortisone therapy, especially as one reduces the dose, birth control pills, patches and the birth control IUD, hormone replacement therapies, depressants such as valium, ADHD drugs, blood pressure medications such as beta blockers and others, and at times many other drugs if they do not react well in the body.
Always be sure to check the side effects of any medication you are using on a regular basis if depression begins to occur. It can be life threatening, so do not ignore this cause of depression. Even if depression is not a recognized side effect of a medication, it can still cause the problem and a trial without the drug or using another drug instead can be worthwhile. If one follows a nutritional balancing program, most drug therapy can be discontinued after a period of time.
Medications of all sorts can cause depression directly by inhibiting various neurotransmitters in the brain. They can also cause depression by inhibiting or interfering with other nutrients. They may also affect your appetite, sex life, sleep habits, or other areas that lead indirectly to feelings of sadness, inadequacy or other problems. This applies to over-the-counter remedies equally as it applies to prescription or recreational drug use.
Medications of all sorts can cause depression directly by inhibiting various neurotransmitters in the brain. They can also cause depression by inhibiting or interfering with other nutrients. They may also affect your appetite, sex life, sleep habits, or other areas that lead indirectly to feelings of sadness, inadequacy or other problems. This applies to over-the-counter remedies equally as it applies to prescription or recreational drug use.


Depression can be a positive adaptation to exhaustion. In these cases, depression occurs to prevent further depletion of energy that could cause more serious illness.
The truth of this is observed as a person recovers their health. Many patients comment after several months or longer on a health building program their depression lifts, but they are exhausted. After several more months, the exhaustion begins to lift. As they regain their health, they retrace the sequence of events that led to the depression.
Thus depression may be a stage of life after exhaustion. Rebuilding body chemistry is necessary to reverse the process. Sometimes the reversal process is fast. At other times, toxic metal elimination and nutrient replacement can take up to several years.


This is the most common question we receive. It is not easy to answer. Some people feel better in a week or two when they eliminate sugar from their diet and begin sleeping more. Most people, in fact, start to feel better on a nutritional balancing program rapidly. However, for best results, do not expect to feel better overnight, especially with physically-caused depression. It may take longer, depending on many factors.
For example, if one’s depression is physical, then physical changes will improve it. However, if it is emotional, mental or spiritual, then other types of changes are needed to alleviate the condition.
Even if it is a simple physical depression, improvement may require at least several months. This occurs because the body has buffering systems to prevent it from absorbing too much of any nutrient at once, as this would upset body chemistry. Thus, making large changes in body chemistry always take time. Similarly, making important emotional and lifestyle changes may also take a while. Thus, you should not be discouraged if time is required to overcome depression feelings.


Testing with hair tissue mineral analysis by someone who understands how to interpret the test can be a very helpful step to identify many imbalances, including mental, emotional and spiritual ones, believe it or not. The hair analysis will help you to avoid random and often harmful dieting and supplementation that often wastes time and money, is often less effective or could even make the problem worse. We can identify your metabolic type, for instance, that tells whether you will tend to do better on more fats and oils, or less of these essential foods.

Replacement Therapy Is Not Often Helpful. It is important to note that when a mineral is low on this test, it is not sufficient to simply take that mineral. This is called replacement therapy.
The method we use, called nutritional balancing science, is more complicated, but yields far better results. We teach this to doctors and other practitioners, because it is far less well known or understood.


First, do not stop antidepressant medication without careful thought and attention. Many patients report side effects when stopping these drugs. This is a sad fact about these drugs. Adverse effects of the drugs or of stopping them may include headache, nausea, depression, anxiety and many, many more. Be careful and preferably work with a health professional. I never tell patients to stop prescription medication without the assistance or okay of their doctor.
However, a new study reviewed all of the past studies on four popular anti-depressant drugs. These are representative of the newer class of antidepressants called SSRI antidepressants.

The researchers concluded that they are no better than placebo, except for some very severe cases of depression. This is a very important study. Here are questions everyone taking these drugs must ask himself or herself:
Why risk the side effects of these drugs that include suicide in teens, homicide in adults and many more that are just less severe?
Why risk the toxic effects of any drug if it is no better than a sugar pill?
Why spend the money on these drugs?
Why take any toxic products that don’t work well anyway?
Please pay attention to this study, which you are not likely to hear about on the evening news.
Reference: PloS Med. 2008;5(2):e45.


Depression feelings are common, and may not be serious. However, they are often a signal that one is tired, copper toxic, hypoglycemic or that some other physical imbalance is present. For this type of depression, a nutritional balancing program is superb.
In other cases, mental fixations or emotional imbalances can also cause depression feelings. One may need meditation, talking with a counselor, or just a new lifestyle to overcome this type of problem.
Very rarely, drug therapy may be helpful, although I have never needed to refer someone for antidepressant drugs. They have many too many side effects, are costly and are quite toxic to the body. Therefore, I recommend trying a natural approach first in all cases. Shotgun vitamin or herb therapies may work, but do not rebuild the body. Nutritional balancing, in contrast, will and does build a solid foundation of health that will also prevent or correct dozens of other symptoms and conditions at the same time, and is therefore safer and much more health-producing. If one combines it with the Roy Masters meditation, most depression can be taken care of in a few weeks to a few months, in many cases.

All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.

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Disclaimer and disclosure: Nutritional Balancing Science and Hair Mineral Analysis do not diagnose, treat or cure any diseases, and are not substitutes for standard medical care. Susan Cachay is not a medical doctor. Nothing on this site is intended to discourage anyone from seeking or following the advice of a medical doctor. Cachay Lifestyle Consulting Inc. 

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