As opposed to other parts of the body, brain and mood disorders are primarily assessed by most doctors by taking the patient’s history and performing CAT scans, MRIs, and SPECT scans.
Even though the treatments are typically pharmaceutical medications geared to manipulating certain neurotransmitters in the brain, doctors will rarely measure these neurotransmitter markers and basically guess their way through a process of trial and error — trying one drug, then adding another and then another and so on. SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors) are usually prescribed.
Conventional medicine automatically assumes that, in most cases, low serotonin levels cause depression. While it’s true that low serotonin levels can lead to this condition, the fact remains that depression can also be caused by imbalances in other neurotransmitters as well.
Just think how you would feel if your doctor simply guessed that your problem was diabetes and put you on insulin without ever testing whether you were a diabetic. That would be absurd, wouldn’t it? So why are doctors prescribing SSRIs when they suspect low serotonin levels?
Furthermore, an SSRI wouldn’t necessarily help the problem since the drug itself merely “inhibits” the uptake of an already low amount of serotonin. This probably explains the failure rate of SSRI treatment in depression.
It’s important to know that serotonin is produced in the brain from tryptophan (a protein), which is converted first into 5-HTP and then into serotonin. Some serotonin is converted into melatonin, the hormone needed for proper sleep (thus the connection between depression and sleep disorders).
One cause of low serotonin is the lack of an enzyme that converts tryptophan to 5-HTP. So adding 5-HTP in proper doses just might be the answer for many people suffering from depression.
The bottom line is that without proper measurements of these important neurotransmitters and adrenal hormones, the mainstay of treatment for brain and mood disorders is merely guesswork at best.