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Anti-depressants, violence and testing for low folate

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InnerLight posted 5/12/2013 14:17 PM

I know anti-depressants help many people but I am always surprised by how frequently people including doctors recommend them without much knowledge of the individual's biochemistry or of alternatives to ADs.

I attended a lecture by William Walsh, PhD, last weekend. He has done extensive research in advanced nutrition therapy and mental health. He has studied the biochemistry of violent criminals for many years. He said that almost all the school shooters were prescribed anti-depressants.

Almost all the criminals and school shooters who had bad reactions to these meds also had low methyl and low folate, this was particularly true for young males.

He proposes testing for this biochemical picture before taking an anti-depressant.

I know many on this board struggle and turn to ADs and have also met people who felt suicidal or violent when then they took these meds.

I wanted to pass on this information. Please don't get mad at me if you are taking ADs and it is working for you. I am happy for you that you have a great tool. I just wanted to share this practical info about testing before taking ADs in the hopes that it may help someone avoid bad side effects that they may have a particular sensitivity to.

Here are Dr. Walsh's thoughts:

metamorphisis posted 5/12/2013 18:17 PM

Almost all the criminals and school shooters who had bad reactions to these meds also had low methyl and low folate

How was he able to ascertain this?

InnerLight posted 5/12/2013 20:01 PM

Blood and urine testing.

There are power points on his presentations and more info on

I thought this was not only fascinating but potentially really important info to know about.

roughroadahead posted 5/12/2013 20:14 PM

"Low methyl" is meaningless, though. "Methyl" is CH3, it's sometimes added to other molecules as a modifier, but it doesn't exist per se by itself.

How did a random PhD have access to the blood, urine and medical histories to be able to say "almost all"? I had autospy samples during grad school, you have to go through hell to get them.

Is he selling something, by chance?

Edit: It just occurred to me. I will bet $$ that the low methyl is histone modification-- if all else fails, blame epigenetics!

[This message edited by roughroadahead at 9:04 PM, May 12th (Sunday)]

InnerLight posted 5/13/2013 00:03 AM

I checked my notes. It's those with low folate who have adverse reactions to SSRIs.

He does talk about methyl being a dominant factor in epigentic processes as well as having a powerful effect on neurotransmitters. He says 70% of people with mental health have a methylation disorder.

It's not hard to check yourself for low folate. Use a direct to patient lab and run a test for high homocysteine. If homocysteine is high then folate is low.

Roughroad, why call him 'random'? Just because your grad school didn't include his research in your curriculum doesn't mean his work is invalid. Perhaps you've heard of Carl Pfieffer the famous MD, pharmacologist, biochemist and his decades of work with schizophrenia? Walsh worked as a chief scientist at the Pfeiffer Treatment center for decades. Now he teaches physicians all around the world to look more closely at an individual's biomarkers before prescribing pychoactive meds.

I just wanted to pass this on for any young men or concerned parents of young men to get a simple and cheap blood test for low folate before taking SSRIs.

roughroadahead posted 5/13/2013 06:19 AM

Random is not because I've never heard of him. I've never heard of most people who do perfectly valid work. Random is because when you're talking about autopsy samples from high profile cases (like school shooters), you don't have a snowball's chance in hell of getting samples as an individual lab (rather than someone with a huge NIMH lab, say).

It is only too common for people, including physicians and scientists, to say lots of things that sound promising, almost "too easy", just to make money.

InnerLight posted 5/13/2013 09:30 AM

Since I have just listened to his lecture I may be presenting his work here imperfectly in terms of exactly what tests he did on whom. Nevertheless I think his research is interesting and worthy of exploring. Throwing out the accusation that he's just in it for the money is a cheap shot to put down an idea you aren't familiar with or don't agree with. As if the pharmaceutical companies who spend 2x more on marketing than on research aren't the ones raking in the $$$.

Anyone else out there with an open mind who wants to explore this avenue of thought, he has a book out.

metamorphisis posted 5/13/2013 10:51 AM

I will admit that was my initial concern with him as well... that I find it unlikely he had the access to the criminals being referenced to get testing done on them. I'm not sure but I imagine it would be darn near impossible, and even more unlikely that he'd be allowed to publish those results. It almost calls into question the legitimacy of his research to need to use the big punch of the names of high profile cases, and its darn near impossible that he had the access to all of those people.

That being said I don't doubt in the least that we will find many of our answers to mental illness in looking at biochemical and nutritional aspects.

That being said even I as a layperson can't help but wonder if the antidepressants aren't the antecedent variable here.. do they react violently to the meds or are they predisposed to violence, therefore on meds, and reacted violently as a result of the condition that led them to meds in the first place? Chicken/Egg.

I am by no means a pharmaceutical apologist and I do shake my head at those in the medical field so willing to take the current research at face value in the name of science. It doesn't take much to find out that the studies promoting the benefits of these products are often paid for/endorsed by/ sponsored by the drug companies themselves. And honestly.. just because one learned it in med school only means its the accepted science of the time. It's always in flux, and the process of research/peer review/analysis can take decades to change commonly accepted practice, and there will always be someone with monetary interest to throw a wrench into progress.

In the end I think we live in a society that cuts things open or slap a metaphorical bandaid on things to make them better and theres long been a need for us as patients to take a good hard look into how we treat and fuel our bodies before we look for answers in a pill.
And this opinion is from someone who takes meds for anxiety . Yep.. I know.. but when you are feeling like your life is unmanageable, you are very unlikely to wade through all this stuff. You just want to feel better.

I appreciate the link and I will take the time to read it.

I want to be a fly on the wall 100 years from now when we look back at the way we treated mental illness and see the massive changes. Hopefully they are coming.

roughroadahead posted 5/13/2013 11:25 AM

It is possible to do such a study on living prisoners if one is willing to cut through the massive red tape to get the protocol approved.

It is not even about big pharma for me, to be honest. So very little is understood about the biochemistry of the brain. Individual pathways have been elucidated, such as 5-HT for seratonin, but how these work together for brain functioning in a "healthy" brain is far from well understood. The differences between brains with and without various mental illnesses is only just beginning to be understood.

It makes me wary when scientists are selling books (rather than publishing papers). He has a hypothesis, not the answer. If he has some data, great, but that's not the end of the story. Also, folate is one of the most heavily fortified vitamins--you'll find it added to bread, breakfast cereals etc.

I don't discount that there is a lot of promise and good work in metabolism and nutrition. What I am suspicious of is people who take advantage of the general distrust of "big pharma" in order to put promising-sounding, but under-studied treatments/cures out there for their own gain.

sad12008 posted 5/13/2013 11:35 AM

It could be an interesting trail to explore, certainly.

Throwing out the accusation that he's just in it for the money is a cheap shot to put down an idea you aren't familiar with or don't agree with.

I didn't take it that way, and as someone with a background in both laboratory and social sciences, I can understand the concerns roughroadahead voiced. Too often, people well-versed in a particular field see what (to their educated eyes) are red flags, just like we here on SI see things in relationships the non-infidelity-impacted do not. It can get rather frustrating at times.

That doesn't mean that <whatever> is completely invalid; it merely means something seems hinky.

FWIW. I agree with meta's last remark:

I want to be a fly on the wall 100 years from now when we look back at the way we treated mental illness and see the massive changes. Hopefully they are coming.

...only I hope some Big Answers come out in my lifetime. They seem at times tantalizingly close.

InnerLight posted 5/13/2013 14:39 PM

Well I am certainly very imperfect at conveying Walsh's work and im not expecting anyone to accept his work without investigating it for youself. He has published 200 Scientific papers and ther is more info on his bio and an interview here.

Blowing off someone's work when you just don't know is a shame.

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