Over 300 million people around the world experience depression. For the last half-century, the dominant explanation for depression has centered on serotonin. The basic idea is that low levels of brain serotonin or serotonin activity lead to symptoms of depression. But in the last several decades, a number of researchers have challenged the idea that serotonin plays a principal role, or even a major role, in depression. So, if it’s not a serotonin issue, what is it?
Today on The Dhru Purohit Podcast, Dhru and Dr. Austin Perlmutter talk about why serotonin may not explain depression, but research on other brain pathways may provide answers such as neuroplasticity, our hormones, metabolic health, gut health, and the immune connection to the brain. They also discuss how there is a lot we can do through our lifestyle choices to help prevent and even manage depression.
Dr. Perlmutter is a board-certified internal medicine physician and internationally recognized expert on how environmental influences affect our mental and brain health. His research on lifestyle factors in depression has been featured and cited in peer-reviewed literature, and he educates audiences on the topic on top podcasts and in keynote presentations around the world. He is a coauthor of the New York Times and international bestseller Brain Wash, which he wrote with his father Dr. David Perlmutter and covers our poor modern-day brain health and the role of everything from diet to social media on our cognitive and mental states. He is a frequent contributor to websites including MedPage Today, Doximity, KevinMD, Medium, and Psychology Today, and he hosts the Get The STUCK Out podcast. He currently serves as the Senior Director of Science and Clinical Innovation at Big Bold Health, where he is running an IRB-approved pilot trial exploring the effects of polyphenols on epigenetic expression. His overarching focus is on helping people find non-pharmaceutical strategies for getting “stuckness” out of their brains and bodies using the best that science and nature have to offer.
In this episode, we dive into:
- The top drivers of depression (1:42)
- The connection between neuroinflammation and depression (9:30)
- How our immune system influences our brain function (11:49)
- What governs our brain state and how we make decisions (16:04)
- The top causes of inflammation (17:31)
- How exposure to particulate matter impacts our brain function (36:21)
- The top foods for brain health (44:15)
- Why depression is not a serotonin issue (50:37)
- Myths about serotonin (56:47)
- What you can do to improve your brain health (1:16:22)
Also mentioned in this episode:
- Big Bold Health
- Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat
- Dr. Mark Hyman’s Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat Pancake Recipe
- The serotonin theory of depression: a systematic umbrella review of the evidence
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