T Nation

What Values to Check to Make Sure My Depression is Purely Psychological?

Hi everyone

Quick question… Been depressed for years and can now barely get up in the mornings. Don’t want to get into all the details… However I’ve been through some shit and it has stressed/burned me out. I’m not sure wether there’s now some hormone imbalance or wether it’s purely psychological.

What blood tests should I take to make sure I’m not depressed because of some hormone imbalance? I take 5000IU of D3 daily, adequate magnesium citrate and B12. I can probably skip those tests.

Advice is much appreciated. I want to stop crying myself to sleep without even knowing why.

Depression is never “purely psychological” as in “all in your head.” It is always related to hormones and neurotransmitters and typically creates viscous cycles where the effects of the depression advance the depressed state.

You definitely should do a sleep study.
You definitely should test your testosterone levels, however the testosterone is as likely to be the result as the cause.
You should possibly test cortisol levels.
You might want to check for celiac and thyroid autoimmunity or at least try an elimination diet, eliminating wheat, dairy, beans, nuts, corn.

An issue is that many of these things can be cause and effect of a depressed state. Poor sleep can cause depression, but depression can cause poor sleep.

Obviously you should seek medical advice, but I would

  1. Immediately ask your doctor to do a sleep study.
  2. I would immediately test your testosterone levels, and
  3. I would probably get a thyroid function test right away.
  4. I would also ask you to post a typical weekly diet, and include any suppliments, stimulants (caffeine, nicotine) and depressants (alcohol) and medications you take regularly including pain killers.

I don’t feel like writing at the moment even though I have some questions. But I want you to know that I really appreciate your answer. Thanks a bunch.

My nutrition is pretty good. I try to eat plant based (still 4-5x meat per week) and I’m surely hitting all micro and macronutrient needs. Sleep is usually around 7-9 hours which should be fine too.

  1. What do you suspect would be possible results from a sleep study? My girlfriend says I don’t snore and don’t move a lot.
  2. Which Test levels should I be testing? free test? or both? What about SHGB?
  3. Got my thyroid tested, everything seems fine. However if I were to retest, what exact values would I need to measure?
  4. I only drink a morning coffee and one in the afternoon, eating very clean and healthy as seen in my other reply above. VERY little alcohol on weekends. No stimulants other than caffeine and no medication. I should be as healthy as a person could be, honestly.

I wouldn’t say always though. While this is very true, and can vary to multiple degrees within individuals, its just too vast And intricate of a phenomenon to solely just be hormonal/neurological or emotional/mental, but can often be a mixture of both. I’m just saying OP would do good to address both sides.

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You should try watching this then:

I’m gonna go ahead and make the claim that your depression is purely caused by your “healthy” plant based diet.

Try a real human diet for a month.

Try it.


Also; read this.

Your gut is getting destroyed by plants. And your brain is following. Luckily, it can all reverse pretty quickly, as per above.

I’ve been depressed for much longer than my plant based approach. I actually steered towards plant based because of the current scientific evidence on inflammation, meat and depression. There’s plenty. But thanks.

I’m pretty sure I don’t suffer from celiac disease. Depression started at around 17 years of age. I didn’t change my eating habits until this year.

Also… “Despite currently receiving royalties from a publication based on the use of dietary intervention for autism and related conditions and being a shareholder of an online company that provides dietary information about the use of a gluten and casein free diet, the Reviewer PW and handling Editor declare that the process nevertheless met the standards of a fair and objective review.” eh… I honestly read the whole article and found it to be quite weak. Most studies used suffer from selection bias imo.

But I digress. I’m sure diet is not the issue in my case and I’d love to move on to what hormonal values I’m supposed to check exactly as per my question above.

Based plant food made my t drop in 1 month

Sucks for you I guess. Doesn’t seem to be the case when looking at studies… Quite the contrary, actually.

I know most people on here are somehow triggered by reduced meat consumption. But can we not turn this into a plant based bashing discussion? I’m certain this has no play in why I’m depressed.

If you have any doubt why dont you try a ( fasting ) ? with your doctor, i want to says that he can just control if everything is ok when u start to stop to eat… that resolve and help for a lot of things, and like that u can see if your mind is better or not.
( of course read some article about that before and prepare yourself correctly)

If it is not your alimentation, than can to be also your mind, go walk in the forest, read Krishnamurti, Rûmî,taoism… , u will find.
Things about yourself and your life, what mean purely psychological ? check all of the problem of alimentation and body but i dont things that depression is only because of alimentation…

My english is poor, is not my language, but i dont know if i can to help you.

Just if im feel bad, i go walk a lot in the forest, even with a dogs it is nice, look the landscape, stay calm and far of the city for a time, or if i cant leave the city, i go all of the time as i can oustide the city, to breath.

go to swimming also and stop gym for a time, do complete stretching 3/4 time by week, maybe your body have some tension, it also possible and not good for your mind.

A lot of possibility but do one by one, also just accept that u suffer in a sense, accept completely this feeling and listen that.

@alexwastaken this not the community for mental health advice. @mertdawg was onto something. But, you’re much better off talking to an actual doctor.

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While depression can be hormonal mediated as hormones (and various metabolites stemming from said hormones) can have very powerful effects in terms of regulating neurotransmission… don’t get entirely caught up in the hormonal aspect

There’s a chance depression in you’re case could be exacerbated by hormonal dysregulation… there’s also an equal chance it isn’t… you haven’t mentioned any specific symptomatology that screams hormonal imbalance/dysregulation

Keep in mind, I’m no expert, but I’ve seen this unfold on here thus I’ll say this… say you find a hormonal deficiency/imbalance… don’t put all you’re coins into that and that alone, sure… treatment can help, but depression can relate to numerous variables (past trauma, loneliness, bullying, relationship troubles, general dissatisfaction etc)… putting all you’re money can lead to an OCD like obsession with HRT (of any kind be it thyroid, adrenals, testosterone etc), in which any little depressive symptom you have you’ll chalk up to the treatment, and thus continually make minuscule increments, never let you’re body attain homeostasis etc…

Depression needs to be looked at holistically, if a pharmacological treatment helps or has the potential to help… then by all means try it out… but the thing I’ve found (having suffered from reactive depression prior) that helps the most is talking to others… anyone, even if you feel you have no one (see a therapist, even talk to someone online if possible)…

I have an email in my bio, I may not be much… nor do I have much in the way of life experience… But if you ever need someone to talk to and have no one else, I’ll be happy to talk


I agree. The original question may be more of whether it is hormonal/metabolic or primarily due to neurotransmitters.

I still would want to test for low T, sleep apnea and food sensitivities and at least rule them out. I have seen people’s lives radically changed with sleep apnea or low T treatment and also with identifying allergies or food sensitivites and regardless of neurological status it may help and won’t hurt to identify/evauate those 3 things.


This can be a catch 22 though as hormones can exert profound effects on neurotransmission, worsening an already pre existing depressive state

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free Test
Total Test
Bio available Test
Vitamin D3
Lipid panel

Ever done a cycle or have other reason to suspect hormone imbalance? Extended Severe caloric restriction while still training hard?
Has depression ever gone away, if so, can you pin point when/what made it come back?

Buying an overnight pulse oximeter on amazon and checking readings may be cheaper than going to the doc many times to find out if you have sleep apnea (they’re between $150-$200)…the pulmonologist I was seeing put me through the hoops and I was left with many bills even after shelling out tons on my end.

If things get bad seek professional help , You can contact me by email if you need to talk…

I hope your doing better. Hang in there and remember “every storm runs out of rain”

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thanks so much man.

no i’ve never done a cycle, nor any weird diets. I don’t feel like answering but I promise what you wrote was not in vain. I really appreciate it and might post back with results.

You were probably eating lots of carbs as a teenager. AFAIK plant based is NOT low carb. Your serotonin to dopamine are undoubtedly out of balance. Plant based diets have so many things wrong in terms of gut inflammation first and foremost, glucose rollercoasters, high serotonin, gluten, fiber, phytoestrogens, everything.

Eat a lot of fatty meat. That will shoot dopamine right back up. Dark chocolate is an alternative. B6 supplements. Drop carbs.

But seriously. Meat is best. Studies that find negatives to meat are junk, and some of us here know much better than most doctors when it comes to endocrinology, nutrition, and mental health.