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Tag: medication

GUEST POST: Happiness…Could the Key be in Your Genes

Written by Stephanie Correa
Original found here: http://onthegowellnesscoaching.com/articles/happinesscould-the-key-be-in-your-genes

9/1/2015

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Many people I know would be surprised to find out I’ve struggled with depression throughout my life. I chose early on to hide it, when I saw how uncomfortable people around me were when I shared what I was going through. I learned and created techniques to manage and hide it from even those closest to me. I don’t always win the battles and as a mom, whenever I felt it building up beyond my ability to hide it, I intentionally watched sad movies, so my crying wouldn’t worry or confuse my son as he grew up. With all my efforts to shield him, I was unable to prevent him from also experiencing the despair, anxiety and debilitation depression can infuse people with. His depression and anxiety worsened when he experienced a long-term illness, surgery and failed care by medical professionals. During his darkest days I was constantly fearful his despair would win and he would leave this world.

Through the darkness, however there can often be gifts. Directly after his surgery in 2014 we were advised by his doctor of the importance of managing his pain through medication. He was prescribed three narcotic pain killers, which we unfortunately discovered he was unable to feel. Doubling the dosage, per the advice of his doctor, he still felt nothing stating it was as if he was taking nothing at all. Frustratingly our doctor thought we were lying. Prior to abandoning him, his doctor did say one thing that stood out, she told me she had heard there were genetic mutations that could affect a person’s ability to metabolize pain medication.

It took all of 2014 for my son to recover from both the surgery and residual fatigue. As he healed, I researched gene mutations affecting narcotic metabolism and in the spring of 2015 decided to have him genetically tested. What we discovered was shocking, revealing and incredibly empowering.

We discovered he has a genetic mutation that prevents him from making the enzyme necessary for metabolizing a majority of narcotic pain medications. 3% of the population has this mutation. We also learned there are two medications he can take since they don’t require that particular enzyme to be metabolized. Mystery solved!!

The biggest gift, however, came from the discovery of two other mutations on a gene called MTHFR which methylates folate (Vitamin B9). Methylation of folate makes it possible for our bodies to utilize it. Folate has many important functions, one of which is to facilitate the production of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine our feel good hormones/neurotransmitters. The power of happiness really can be in your genes!!

After researching and factoring in several additional gene mutations, we began supplementing with methylated folate (aka:  L-5-MTHF, L-Methylfolate, Folicinic Acid) and noticed a difference within just a few days. With strategic supplementation based on his genetic mutations, a decade of despair and months of intense anxiety attacks were finally lifting!!

MTHFR gene mutations aren’t limited to contributing to depression. Here are several other diseases and symptoms resulting from unsupported MTHFR genetic mutations:

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With the gift of seeing my son begin to smile and laugh again and watching his quality of life improve dramatically after just a few weeks, I decided to have my genetics tested as well. I  learned I also have MTHFR gene mutations. To give you a better picture of what I’m talking about, here is how my particular MTHFR gene mutations look on my report:

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The red Result +/+, indicates I have two mutations of MTHFR C677T which means I am methylating folate at only 10% of functionality. In this scenario I learned supplementation support is incredibly important. If only one copy had been mutated the Result would have been marked as +/- and shaded yellow, indicating support would be helpful. Green (-/-) indicates there are no mutations on the MTHFR A1298C gene.

Interestingly, 40% of the population has MTHFR genetic mutations and 38% of people with depression have a folate deficiency. Not a big difference between those two numbers. If you or someone you know suffers from depression and anxiety (or any of the diseases/symptoms above), genetic testing might be worth looking into and hopefully offer a personalized pathway to feeling healthy and HAPPY.

How does someone get their genetics tested, where can you find the reports and is the process expensive? 

With genetic testing and reporting available, we have better access than ever to a road map to improved health and well-being personalized from our DNA. The reports make it possible to have a conversation with your doctor and/or health care provider, where together you can identify areas in need of support and decide how best to fill those areas in.

Below I’ve listed the company I used to order our genetic testing kits, pricing and websites with reporting platforms I found very helpful and informative.

Genetic Testing:
1) Request a DNA Kit from www.23andme.com

  • This costs around $199 plus tax & shipping.
  • The testing is through a saliva sample.
  • Note this is an ancestry site; however it will house your raw genetic data which is important when you are ready to run reports from the data.
  • The testing can take anywhere from 4 weeks to 8 weeks before your results will be ready. It is truly worth the wait!

Genetic Data Reporting Platforms:
1)   www.knowyourgenetics.com

  • Free.
  • Report is generated from your raw genetic data housed at www.23andme.com.
  • A great site for supplementation recommendations you can go over with your doctor.
  • Very informative for explaining gene mutations and the methylation cycle.

2)   www.geneticgenie.org

  • Report is generated from your raw genetic data housed at www.23andme.com.
  • Methylation Report is $10. Methylation report provides a summary of information about gene mutations found in your Methylation report.
  • Detoxification Report is $5 (this report shows how well you are able to handle toxins).
  • These two reports are concise and handy to go over with your doctor.

3)  www.promethease.com

  • Report is generated from your raw genetic data housed at www.23andme.com.
  • Report costs $5.
  • A comprehensive and informative report with details specific to how well you handle medications, diseases you may or may not be at risk for, fat metabolism, etc.
  • Interesting, but can also be a bit overwhelming.
  • Access to data expires after 45 days. You can save the information to a spreadsheet for your records.

4)   www.mthfrsupport.com

  • Report is generated from your raw genetic data housed at www.23andme.com.
  • Report costs between $30 and $50 depending upon whether they are running a special offer.
  • Comprehensive Report. Not all genetic mutations listed are easy to find health and supplementation recommendations.

There are several websites, books and YouTube presentations on the topic of MTHFR and other gene mutations, which you may discover down the road. The first step, however is to find out whether you need support or not and then begin the journey of mapping out your personalized path to feeling your best.

The information related to Epigenetics and Nutrigenomics is vast, but incredibly fascinating. Please share your stories and let me know if there are areas you would like to know more about. This topic is near and dear to my heart and if I can find ways, through my blog, to help clarify and provide you with resources to healing, it would be my great pleasure to do so!
 

http://onthegowellnesscoaching.com/articles/happinesscould-the-key-be-in-your-genes

please

I can’t breathe. There’s a tightness around my throat and a pressure on my chest. The nausea is constant. I keep taking big breaths, forcing the air in and out. I keep clawing at my shirt collar, hoping that will help somehow. This is the first time in years I haven’t been on antidepressants during my cycle. I feel so exposed. Like a deep layer of skin has been removed from my body. Every hard word or sound, every jarring or startling experience, feel like chunks of my flesh are sawed off, leaving me shaking and traumatized. It is so uncomfortable to be. It is so exhausting to be. I am trying to remind myself, this is temporary. But every moment, every second, lasts forever. This isn’t a 5 minute panic attack. This is nonstop, unending, ever present from the moment I hit consciousness in the morning until the moment my sleep meds kick in. Please stop. Please stop. Please stop. Please make it stop.

Writing this helps. Posting this makes me feel less alone.

what brings me peace and balance

This is my third time falling. One might say I’ve gotten good at this. And my third time picking up the pieces and putting myself back together again. This time my recovery is faster. I’m still not sleeping, but I’m not drowning in despair. The anxiety is debilitating and crushing, but it’s not constant – just early mornings, and late afternoons to evenings. I know what I’m doing this time. I’m proficient at recovery. I have my bag of tools that I know work and I can rely on.

For my worst case scenarios, when all other tools fail, I give myself permission to use ativan. I used to tell myself that I can’t/shouldn’t, and trying to hold it together by eliminating that option was a nightmare. Knowing I can, if I need to, makes it easier to hold on without it. But before it gets that bad, I have some other options. I have my meditations. When I start I’m agitated, but over the 15-20 minutes I become still, as if floating. A perfect escape-the-world snack. A brief respite that refills my mental tank just a little bit. If I need to, I will listen to meditations back to back. They work.

Walking. Even when I’m dragging and every step is a monumental effort. Even when my anxiety is high and every minute is filled with panic. Even when I’m feeling devastated and I cry the whole way. By the time I’m done my leg muscles are humming and the endorphins have lifted me out of my mind. My body feels stronger. I sit on my front steps, I watch the tree branches sway, I breath the cool air, and I feel a sense of peace. It may not last. But in that moment I memorize all the sensations. I will put this memory in my pocket and carry it with me.

Journaling. When my brain is full, swirling with thoughts that attack like birds, and I can’t quiet it and I can’t escape, I run to my bedroom and shut the door and I pull out my journal. Then I purge. I vomit up every nasty, horrible thought I have no matter how humiliating. I smear the pages with my words and my tears. No restraint. And when it’s all out and I finally feel emptied, a calm comes over me. And I am able to sort and sift through the situation, and understand it. And once I understand the why, I am able to counter the negative thoughts with realistic and positive solutions. I can see more clearly. I can see my value and my strengths and I can come up with a plan. And once I have a plan I feel stabilized and confident again. And I am ready to open the door and return to my life, my family, and my responsibilities again.

white knuckling

I’m holding it together. But only just.

The words are back – the liars. They’re telling me, I’m telling me, that I’m a failure as a parent. I’m so mean to my little girl. That voice, I cut her open with contempt. All she wants is a mother’s love. I’m her mother. But I forget. Just do what you’re supposed to do. What I want you to. Obey. But she’s 5. She’s supposed to be her own person. And I crush her. She bounces back. But what damage have I done. What scar tissue am I generating under that beautiful, soft skin.

How        do        I        stop.

Please let this be hormones – this depth of this suffering crying guilt.

Does this mean I’ve failed. That I need to go back onto antidepressants.

I’m so tired. The mantra of my life.

Door slams shut inside. Feel nothing feel nothing feel nothing. Maybe if I hold really still, this will go away.

 

It’s daylight savings time and I ______________

It’s daylight savings time and I’m exhausted.

But I’m always exhausted. So how do you differentiate between the different flavors of exhaustion. There’s the “good” kind of body exhaustion, when you work hard at something and sweat and use your muscles till they’re pleasantly fatigued. Your body is warm, your muscles humming. You feel productive.

Yeah, I don’t feel like that.

I feel like every cell in my body is crying out to rest. It’s agitated, far beyond “tired.” Harsh vibrating, a constant grinding noise. All the time. But it can’t rest. Not even when I stop moving and close my eyes. I wake up in the middle of the night, despite my meds, wired but so very tired. I pass out, eventually. Morning arrives. I hear my daughter’s lilting voice, and a switch in my brain is thrown, wake up. I peel my eyes open, they’re dry and sting. I peel myself out of bed and drag myself through my morning routine. Then drag myself through the day.

Fatigue and anxiety holding hands and skipping, tra la la. They’re 2 halves of the same coin. One fuels the other, around and around we go.

Agitate

Add ingredients. Shake vigorously. Pray you never have to feel what it’s like from the inside of the cup.

Carrying very heavy books. Arms getting tired. Muscles crying, “just set them down.” How do you do that with your life.

There is such a disconnect between the people that make and sell our medications and the people who take them. And SHAME on you, shrink, for upping a dose on a medication with no way to come off gently. There’s just high dose and higher. Both extended release, so you can’t cut them up. Until the benzo’s hit my system just now, I was sure I was back in the hell from 4 years ago. Only I had merely dropped down to the lower dose. And I also get to enjoy the remnants and shards and wounds other meds I have weaned off before you. They never leave you without damaging you on the way out as well. Total mental and physical distress. Nausea, lower intestinal pain, migraine, all sounds amplified and echoing, all movements no matter how small causing vertigo and sharp, stabbing and disorienting mind pain. And exhaustion. Crushing. Absolute. My body begging me to stop moving and close my eyes and never move again. Even as I write this. Take me away from all this. Make it stop. I can’t cope. I can’t hold on anymore. I give up. I give in. Put me back on the meds. Drug me up.

distraught

I screwed up my meds. The one that gives me a brief period of mania with any change. I had an amazing day. Sure I didn’t sleep. But I had so much energy. I felt alive. I played with my daughter for hours. At bedtime I read to her, then rocked her and sang to her, and felt so connected to her. And now I can’t stop crying. Because tomorrow it will be gone. I can’t even enjoy these brief moments of feeling normal…because I know it will end.

I don’t know what’s worse, never getting these moments, or getting them briefly only to have them taken away again.

What would you say has been the most difficult situation you have gone through during your illness? Why?

Everything.

  • Coming to consciousness in bed, but the weight of existence makes it impossible to move, let alone get out of bed.
  • Trying to pick something to wear, eat, do. None of it is interesting. Nothing inspires enthusiasm.
  • Stasis. Total paralysis. Even just being is exhausting.

But on good days –

  • Trying to wrangle focus or concentration to accomplish at least one thing on my to-do list.
  • Sucking up my full body anxiety to leave the house and go somewhere. Especially if it’s somewhere I haven’t been before. That’s its own extra special level of anxiety.
  • Trying to make small talk with someone. Can they tell I’m having a hard time hearing them over my racing heartbeat. Do they see me sweating. Nothing they’re saying means anything at all. I don’t care about their weather forecast. Are we done yet. Did I smile at all. Did I nod at the right places. When they ask what I’ve been up to, I can’t tell them, “misery and hell.” This is exhausting.
  • Going to an interview. Can they tell I had a nervous breakdown before I got here. Can they tell I’m wearing a wig. Do they know that I hate dressing up, wearing makeup. Can they tell there’s no way in hell I want to be here. I’m scared of failing, but even more scared of succeeding.
  • Being a parent. Can she tell I don’t want to do this. Does she think that I don’t love her because I don’t want to play with her. Does she think that my sadness and fatigue is her fault. Am I scarring her for life when I lose my patience.
  • Accepting love. I can’t imagine how you could love me. I don’t feel like I deserve it. I’m sure I’m screwing up this relationship with an amazing person.
  • Trying to sleep. If I just hold still maybe it will come. My heartbeat is so loud it is overwhelming. I’m cold, shivering. Then I start getting adrenaline jolts. Fire shooting through my body. Now I’m sweating, overheating. My thoughts are racing. The same terrible images or conversations or events keep cycling through my mind, over and over. I’m taking deep breaths, damnnit. Why isn’t this working. Should I get up. Should I take meds. Maybe if I just lay here I’ll finally fall asleep. How many hours until morning. I hate this. Why does everything have to be so hard.

Would you take the ECT treatment? Why? When?

Yes.

But only as of a couple days ago did I even consider it. Shock treatment. That’s for the real loonies! Well I guess I’m one of those now. Dozens of meds later and I know my brain chemistry is even more out of whack than it was in the beginning – or out of whack in a whole new and exciting way. It’s a lottery, trying these different meds, which one will work? And, to add to the complexity, each one leaves an impact on the brain, altering it – maybe a lot, maybe a little – but none leave without a trace. I could start the list over and who knows, what didn’t work before might fit now. But each time I try one out, the experience of waiting long enough to see the effect, instead of just the side effects, is misery.

“Try this and see you in a week.” Well that week is made up of days, hours, minutes, seconds of torture. So what then. When trying so many different things isn’t working, what then.

I’m desperate. Desperate to feel calm. Desperate to feel any kind of happiness. Desperate to not spend every moment just trying to make it to the next moment, and the moment after that. Desperate enough to let Western Medicine run an electrical current through my brain to generate a seizure – and then see if that works.

Maybe.

If you could go back and change anything in your life before your illness, what would you do?

Everything begins somewhere, and if I try to travel back to before my illness, I have to go back to conception. My father was an angry, sadistic bastard. But without him, I would not exist. So it doesn’t work to eliminate him.

So what then.

My first major depression was a result of the traumatic birth of my daughter. I wish I had had my doula with me. She could have calmed me and allowed me to consider my options, rather than just accepting the doctor’s decree that I wasn’t leaving. That I had to have a successful version and be induced, or a c-section. That no matter what the baby was coming out today, and not in a week or so like we expected. If I had had more time to come to terms with having a c-section, maybe it wouldn’t have felt so violent. But would I have changed my mind about the version? That version set the cascade of interventions, for without it, we wouldn’t have gone straight into the OR. Without it, they wouldn’t have given me terbutaline, which caused my a-fib. Perhaps I need to go back just a littler farther. I would like to change my baby’s positioning. I would have liked her to not be breech. To be head down the way she was supposed to, so I could have had a natural birth, like I was planning all along. So I could have felt labor and came out triumphant on the other side. So I could have had her placed right on my chest squalling and I could have held her, skin to skin, right away, and claimed her as mine, instead of going to the ICU overnight, alone in my grief and trauma. So I could have felt like a “normal” mother, delivering the way our bodies are supposed to, healing after and walking right away, instead of laying in a hospital bed bathed in sweat, tears, pain, anger and shame.

But would that have fixed it all? I may have had severe PPD anyway. I may have felt distant from the tiny screaming creature, or resentful of her existence, anyway. I may have tumbled down that hole no matter what. There’s just no way of knowing. So I find this kind of question useless, though I chose to write on it anyway. The past can not be changed. I am still mourning this story, and its what-ifs. I look forward to one day being able to accept it and let it go.