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Exploring the Genetic Roots of Depression

Depression is a complex condition influenced by a blend of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. Among the genetic factors, the ability to effectively methylate, regulated by the MTHFR gene, plays a crucial role in mental health.

What is Methylation?

Methylation is a biochemical process essential to numerous body functions, including DNA repair, immune function, and the regulation of gene expression. It is pivotal for the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which regulate mood and emotional wellbeing.

The Role of MTHFR Mutations

The MTHFR gene provides instructions for making an enzyme necessary for converting folate into its active form, methylfolate, vital for the methylation process. Mutations in this gene can lead to inefficient folate metabolism, thereby reducing the body’s ability to conduct proper methylation. This inefficiency can result in low levels of neurotransmitters critical for mood regulation, potentially leading to depression.

Prevalence of MTHFR Mutations

Approximately 44% of the population carry at least one form of MTHFR mutation, which varies widely in its impact from mild to significant. This widespread prevalence underscores the importance of considering genetic factors when diagnosing and treating mental health disorders.

Genetic Factors and Depression

Impaired methylation capacity due to MTHFR mutations may be a foundational issue contributing to the development of depression.

This genetic predisposition affects how the body produces and regulates neurotransmitters:

Neurotransmitter Synthesis:
Reduced methylation can lead to lower serotonin and dopamine levels, impacting mood and emotional state.

Homocysteine Levels:
Elevated homocysteine levels, resulting from poor methylation, have been linked to various health issues, including depression.

 MTHFR and Neurodiversity

Research suggests a link between MTHFR mutations and neurodevelopmental disorders such as dyslexia, ADHD, and autism.

These conditions, like depression, may stem in part from disruptions in methylation affecting neurological processes and brain development.

Addressing methylation issues could therefore be a critical component of treatment strategies for these disorders.

Anxiety and MTHFR

Anxiety disorders, which affect millions worldwide, can also be influenced by MTHFR mutations.

Anxiety often involves dysregulation of neurotransmitters within the central nervous system (CNS), and since methylation is a key process in neurotransmitter synthesis and regulation, inefficiencies here can exacerbate or contribute to anxiety symptoms.

Enhancing folate metabolism can thus be a vital strategy in managing anxiety, especially in individuals with these genetic variations.

Nutritional Support for MTHFR Mutations

Nutrition plays a pivotal role in managing mental health, especially for individuals with MTHFR mutations. Specific nutrients are vital for supporting the methylation process, enhancing mental wellness, and potentially reducing the severity of symptoms associated with MTHFR mutations:

  • L-Methionine: An essential amino acid that acts as a methyl donor in the methylation cycle, crucial for the synthesis of Sadenosylmethionine (SAMe).
  • B Complex Vitamins: Including B6, B12 (as Methylcobalamin), and Folate (B9) which are directly involved in homocysteine metabolism.
  • Methylcobalamin (Vitamin B12): The most bioavailable form of B12, essential for the methylation cycle and nervous system health.
  • Magnesium: Supports over 300 enzyme reactions, including DNA repair and neurotransmitter regulation.

What about Folic Acid?

Folic acid is not the same as folate. When working with clients with MTHFR I tailor supplementation plans to ensure optimal dosages and combinations are used to effectively support mental health.

Unlike folate, which is naturally found in food, folic acid is a synthetic form used in supplements and fortified foods and is highly toxic for people with MTHFR! 

In addition to nutritional support, I utilise various genetic tests, such as the DNA Mind® Genetic Test by Nordic Laboratories.

Genetic Testing

DNA Mind® test  analyses 29 genes that are significantly associated with mental health disorders. It provides valuable insights into the prevention and support of conditions such as neurodegenerative diseases, mood disorders, and addictive behaviours.

The process requires just four blood spots from a single finger prick and includes a DHL home collection kit. A one-hour consultation is also provided to help you understand your test results.


Understanding the genetic underpinnings of depression and other mental health conditions, particularly the role of methylation and MTHFR mutations, provides valuable insights into why traditional treatments might fail some individuals.

This knowledge allows for the development of personalized medicine strategies that target the root causes of these issues, enhancing outcomes across a spectrum of mental and neurological conditions.

If you're struggling with symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues and suspect a genetic component may be influencing your experience book a free discovery call to discuss how personalised nutritional therapy and genetic testing can help you manage your health more effectively.

Any Questions? Send an email to: [email protected] 


Note: this blog post is not intended to replace medical advice, always work in collaboration with your healthcare provider. 


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