Though depression most certainly taps into our emotions, there has always been a scientific element to it as well. Chemical imbalances in the brain are what led to the effectiveness of medications like Prozac. And now, it appears as though irregularities in people’s blood could be another contributing factor.
USA Today recently published an article that utilized research released from Stanford University. Their findings showed that people who suffer from depression typically have low levels of acetyl-L-carnitine, which is a specific biomarker in the blood. The lack of this element was shown to not only contribute to the severity of a person’s sadness, but also its duration.
Study co-author (and Stanford professor) Natalie Rasgon released a statement about the findings, classifying them as a major breakthrough. “This is truly an exciting addition to our understanding of the mechanisms of depressive illness,” she explained on the site.
To come to this conclusion, Rasgon and her team conducted a series of experiments on laboratory rodents. Those who had a deficiency in this particular biomarker showed stronger depression symptoms. What was most encouraging was that when acetyl-L-carnitine supplements were introduced, behaviors began to normalize.
Humans were also looked at for the study. Many of the participants had previously been diagnosed with depression. Of that set, lower levels of acetyl-L-carnitine were positively identified in their bloodstreams. Those who had the least amount of these biomarkers suffered from the most severe symptoms.
“In patients with depression, something is causing a problem in the mechanisms related to the biology of (acetyl-L-carnitine),” study co-author Carla Nasca explained in a statement. “And, surprisingly, the deficiency in (acetyl-L-carnitine) is even stronger in patients that don’t respond to standard antidepressants.”
Both Rasgon and Nasca agree that more testing is needed to conclusively determine whether there is a link. But these findings are certainly promising. Even better is the fact that acetyl-L-carnitine nutritional supplements are widely available at drugstores and retailers throughout the country. Though the researchers caution anyone going out and buying the product to instantly curb their symptoms, they do believe it could be a viable tool in the fight against depression (pending further tests).
We are always fascinated with the progress that science is making when it comes to overcoming emotional issues. Depression is a very real condition that millions of Americans suffer from. Hopefully this can assist with the healing process, coupled with counseling and professional support.