Low Levels of GABA Is Linked To Depression

June 09, 2020

Low Levels of GABA Is Linked To Depression

Low Levels of GABA Is Linked To Depression 

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), an estimated 26.2 percent of Americans age 18 and older suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year. This amounts to one out of every four adult Americans. Today, unfortunately, those numbers may be even higher given that we are in the midst of a global pandemic (COVID-19), the volatility of the market has heightened, and the future for when this will all end is more uncertain than ever. In this 5-minute article, we are going to discuss a promising 2010 study that showed low levels of the neurotransmitter, GABA, is directly linked to depression and what that means for you. 

GABA Supplementation Is An Effective Treatment for Depression

Of the roughly 26 percent of American adults who suffer from a mental health disorder, a large percentage are also diagnosed with depression. A scientific study published on March 1, 2010, in the Journal of Biological Psychiatry has recently come (back) to light that originally identified the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and the role it plays in the brain and controlling depression. 

GABA and Its Direct Correlation With Depression 

The study showed that altered functions of the neurotransmitter GABA is quite common in people who have major depressive disorders when compared to healthy individuals. Many well-known prescription-based anti-depressant medications today correct imbalances in certain neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, however, not every patient benefits from these prescription-based medications. The authors of the study believe a possible explanation is that these drugs do not target GABA-related activity in the brain. Put simply, for certain individuals, the authors believe that in order for an antidepressant to be effective, the antidepressant needs to target GABA-related activity in the brain not just serotonin and dopamine. 

GABA's Role In The Brain

Numerous studies have shown that imbalances of GABA can also lead to bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and anxiety disorder. According to the authors of the study, GABA is the part of the brain, "that allows us to fine-tune our moods, thoughts, and actions with an incredible level of detail." GABA is a neurotransmitter involved in the communication between brain cells and the nervous system. The role of GABA is to reduce the activity of neurons in the brain and even block out the excessive activity that may eventually lead to depression. 

This is part of the reason why the Fitore Thought Calmer can help decrease overactive neurons in the brain safely and effectively, leaving you feeling calm and in control.* GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is directly involved in the communication between brain cells and the central nervous system. 

GABA & Depression Relationship Study 

The study that we have just talked about and which was the largest of its kind examined 85 individuals in total who were divided into four groups: 

Group 1) 25 individuals with treatment-resistant depression

Group 2) 16 unmedicated individuals with major depression

Group 3) 19 individuals with major depression who were successfully treated with medication and had a normal temperament

Group 4) 25 healthy individuals that served as the control group

In all of the groups, a thumb-twitch response to transcranial magnetic (brain) stimulation (TMS) was used to measure how GABA acts in the brain. The researchers found that GABA receptors were dysfunctional in the three groups with major depressive disorder when compared to healthy individuals. Therefore, the researcher's conclusion for the study was low levels of GABA in the brain can typically be linked to depression and vice versa.

Opinion On the Study of GABA

Why this study has not been carried on more thoroughly we do not know. The researchers believe that doctors in the future will be able to apply simple brain stimulations to see which treatment will be most effective for an individual patient, therefore eliminating most if not all of the guesswork. Which, when you think about it only makes sense. When you go to the doctor and say, "my foot hurts, it may be broken," you get an X-ray. More likely than not, you walk away (possibly on crutches) knowing exactly what is wrong with your foot. When you go to your doctor or psychiatrist and say, "my thinking is off, something is wrong, I just don't feel right." What do you get? Not a scan, but a nice, lengthy conversation that may or may not be effective. It is time to upgrade the treatment of mental health through the same level of innovation that is now used to treat physical health. 

GABA Can Help Reduce Stress and Anxiety 

GABA has shown the ability to help reduce stress and anxiety in individuals dealing with stressful situations. For example, two small 2006 studies reported that the participants who took a GABA supplement had increased feelings of relaxation within an hour after consumption compared to those who did not. Furthermore, a 2011 study in Japan examined the effects of a 25 - 50 mg GABA-beverage on 30 participants. The study reported that both beverages were linked to reduced measures of mental and physical fatigue while doing a problem-solving task. 

GABA Can Help Ease Insomnia 

In a small 2018 study, participants that took 300 mg of GABA an hour before going to bed fell asleep faster and stayed asleep longer than those who did not. The increase in sleep quality and duration continued for weeks after starting supplementation. 

Low Levels of GABA Is Linked To Depression Overview 

  • Altered functions of the neurotransmitter GABA is quite common in people who have major depressive disorders when compared to healthy individuals. In other words, low levels of GABA is linked to depression. 
  • Numerous studies have shown that imbalances of GABA can also lead to bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and anxiety disorder.
  • GABA has shown the ability to help reduce stress and anxiety in individuals dealing with stressful situations.
  • In a small 2018 study, participants that took 300 mg of GABA an hour before going to bed fell asleep faster and stayed asleep longer than those who did not.
  • Daniel J. Levitin, neuroscientist and author of The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload stated, "GABA is just as important to how our brain functions as dopamine...we just know less about it."

Where Can I Get More GABA? 

Low Levels of GABA Is Linked To Depression

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) can be taken as a supplement like the one found here: GABA supplement and can also be found in the Fitore Thought Calmer. For more information on GABA or the Fitore Thought Calmer visit our frequently asked questions page. 




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