5 Biotypes of Depression: A Super Easy Outlook

The knowledge that there are 5 Biotypes of Depression1 is lesser-known in our community. Moreover, mental health issues such as depression and anxiety are still considered taboo in most societies today. The varying chemical imbalance in the body and other bodily anomalies in the individuals causes depression. Treating depression with SSRI medications that only target hormones can improve some patients, but not all.

Specific laboratory tests have shown that clinical depression patients differ in the chemical imbalance their bodies suffer from. Such vast differences in the biotypes of depressed patients can get overlooked during the treatment period. This can result in the patient getting worse than before and not needing the help they require.

So, the knowledge of the 5 biotypes of depression is necessary to understand depression better. It will greatly help people suffering from it. The knowledge will help you find more effective treatment plans. Dr. William Walsh first discovered the 5 biotypes of depressions.

He studied 2,800 patients and analyzed samples of 300,000 blood and urine chemistries. This study found that the blood and urine chemistries of depressed individuals differed from the general population.

The 5 Biotypes of Depression

Dr. Walsh discovered 5 biotypes of depression from his studies during his research. This was a huge turn from the belief that clinical depression in everybody has the same cause and effect.

Dr. Walsh’s study showed that different types of conditions led to depression in other individuals. These 5 biotypes of depression were: Under methylated, folate deficiency, copper overload, pyrrole disorder, and toxic metals. We expand on each biotype in detail below.

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1. Under Methylated Depression

Under methylated depression is caused by a dip in serotonin activity due to serotonin’s quick reabsorption in the synapse. These patients are also low on dopamine resulting in feelings of extreme melancholy.

SSRI medication may greatly improve mood in some patients, but for others, it can result in side effects. Dr. Walsh calls individuals with this biotype the ‘classic depressives.’  And it was found that 38 percent of the depressed population has this biotype.

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All such depressed patients show adverse reactions to folic acid along with OCD signs and high suicidal tendencies. Under methylated depression biotype also shows the symptom of seasonal allergies 2in some cases.

They are usually perfectionists who are known to deny being depressed. They may show a calm and collected demeanor but, on the inside, are tightly coiled with high tension.

2. Folate Deficiency Depression

According to Walsh, most homicidal shooters were likely to have had this type of depression. Folate Depression is found in people with higher levels of serotonin and dopamine to characterize this particular biotype.

SSRI treatments have led to adverse reactions that are as severe as suicidal or homicide ideation. Folic acid and Vitamin B12 supplements are known to better patient’s conditions of people with this biotype of depression.

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The incidence of ADHD and poor performance in school occurred more in this biotype of depression than in the others. It was recorded that it was three times higher in folate deficiency depression than in the first biotype.

While undermethylated depression had symptoms such as being highly competitive, high libido, low tolerance to pain, and a calm demeanor. Compared to this, in folate deficiency depression, individuals are less competitive and have low libido. They have a high pain threshold and are known to struggle with being hyperactive.

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Research has shown that about 20 percent of depressed patients suffer from folate deficiency depression.

3. Pyroluric Depression

About 15% of the depressed population suffers from pyroluric depression. Common symptoms of such individuals include severe mood swings, social anxiety, and being unable to cope with stress. They showed little to no sensitivity to bright light, noise, and high internal tension.

These individuals are also known to have antisocial personality disorders but with no criminal tendencies. They seem to struggle with their fears and intrusive thoughts rattling through their bones. Moreover, sometimes in females, there are chances of disturbance in menstrual cycles due to these symptoms.

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Low levels of serotonin, dopamine, and GABA were found in individuals suffering from this biotype of depression. Pyroluric Depression is characterized by a problem in hemoglobin synthesis, which results in severe deficiency of zinc and Vitamin B6. Often, this type of depression is triggered by severe emotional or physical trauma. Treatment options include nutrient therapy, among others.

4. Copper Overload Depression

It is shown that about 17% of depressed individuals suffer from copper overload depression. This depression biotype shows elevated levels of serum copper in the person’s body.

This depression biotype is most commonly found in mothers with postpartum depression3—the possible reason for being unable to reduce high copper levels after pregnancy due to probable genetic anomalies.

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Women were more susceptible to have this biotype of depression. It was found that a hormonal event, like puberty, childbirth or menstruation triggered depression in most such women.

These individuals suffer from symptoms like high anxiety, panic, sleep disorder, tinnitus, and hormonal imbalance. They are hyperactive in childhood and may also show symptoms of skin sensitivity. They may also show intolerance to estrogen, chocolate, and shellfish.

Hormone therapy worsens the depressed person’s mental illness.

5. Toxic Overload Depression

Dr. Walsh’s studies showed that 5 percent of cases of depression can be toxic overload depression. Elevated levels of toxic metals are found in nearly everyone. But in some cases, that can cause depression in individuals.

The toxic overload biotype is characterized by depression due to excessive toxic elements found in the body. When all other biotypes are ruled out, this biotype is considered as the cause of depression in an individual.

People diagnosed with this depression biotype show symptoms that include abdominal pain and cramps, headaches, muscle weakness, and low energy. They are easily irritated and may also have anger management issues. Usually, counseling and functional medicine don’t improve their mental condition.

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Depression in such individuals doesn’t follow a pattern, coming up in bursts during periods of relative wellness of mental health. It is difficult to find a definite pattern or treatment plan in such cases, so extensive care is taken.

It was also found that fungal toxins, viruses, bacteria, food-related toxins can also contribute to toxic overload depression. There are several causes, so getting to the root of it is important before making treatment plans.

A treatment plan can backfire if it’s not appropriate for the specific biotype of depression that a person faces.

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Several tests can determine what biotype of the 5 biotypes of depression causes depression in a person. Serum folate, methylation profile, and metabolic panel are some of the tests that can be performed accurately to detect the biotype. Good professional help and research is the best way to combat depression.

It is important to remember that diagnosing oneself can lead to more harm to the state of depression.

A professional’s help is necessary to take the right lab tests to diagnose the biotype of depression accurately.

Diagnosing oneself without proper testing to assume one of the 5 biotypes of depression may not improve the condition. Misguided actions can only make depression and anxiety worse than before. It is best to talk with a qualified psychiatrist before beginning the medication.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How Are Depression Biotypes Identified?

In order to accurately diagnose biotypes of depression, a patient’s symptoms, medical history, and family history must all be carefully examined. In order to rule out any underlying disorders, your doctor or a mental health expert may also conduct testing.

2. Is It Possible to Have Many Depression Biotypes?

It is true that there are different biotypes of depression. For instance, a person who has bipolar disorder may also suffer from SAD. To correctly evaluate and treat any co-occurring diseases, it’s crucial to engage with a healthcare professional.

3. Can Various Treatments Be Used for Different Depression Biotypes?

Yes, as distinct biological processes underlie different biotypes of depression, they can need various therapies. For instance, a person with bipolar disorder could need mood stabilizers, whereas a person with atypical depression might profit from treatment and a change in lifestyle.

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Name – Suvangi Chanda
Qualification – MBBS Student
Instagram handle – https://instagram.com/_suvangi._?igshid=NTdlMDg3MTY=

  1. Dinga, R., Schmaal, L., Penninx, B. W., van Tol, M. J., Veltman, D. J., van Velzen, L., … & Marquand, A. F. (2019). Evaluating the evidence for biotypes of depression: Methodological replication and extension of. NeuroImage: Clinical22, 101796.

  2. Casale, T. B., Condemi, J., LaForce, C., Nayak, A., Rowe, M., Watrous, M., … & Omalizumab Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis Trial Group. (2001). Effect of omalizumab on symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis: a randomized controlled trial. Jama286(23), 2956-2967. ↩︎
  3. Miller, Laura J. “Postpartum depression.” Jama 287.6 (2002): 762-765. ↩︎

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