No Bullshit: A Vitamin Helped Me Fix My (Pretty Damn Serious) Depression

Before you throw this post onto your “bullshit internet health stories” pile, know this: I’m a veteran health journalist who’s covered health and science for major national media outlets for more than a dozen years. My skeptic Spidey sense tingles any time a new medical “breakthrough” makes headlines, especially if it has anything to do with the Gordian knot of under-regulated, unproven health claims that is the American dietary supplement industry.

Now that we’ve gotten that out the way: Guys! I started taking a vitamin that has literally changed my life. This post isn’t #sp #ad or anything else — this here is pure public service. The tl;dr version:

  • I’ve had depression for forever, but it was well-controlled with psychotherapy/antidepressants. Until…it wasn’t. Frustrated and desperate, I used my super-journalist Googling skills to research the hell out of “treatment-resistant” depression.
  • Found out about a mutation of the MTHFR gene linked to mental illnesses like depression — and a specific type of folate, called methylfolate, that seems to “fix” it.
  • Talked to a bunch of experts, found out I have the mutation, started taking methylfolate with my other meds.
  • Feel 5,000% better a year later.

I recently wrote about all of this in a piece for O, the Oprah Magazine. Although mainstream health folks aren’t talking about methylfolate and depression yet, there’s solid data out of Rush and Harvard, and psychiatrists at large academic centers like Columbia University and Mass General are on board.

In the meantime, I want to take my journalist hat way, way off for a moment and say to you, my fellow humans: If you have depression or bipolar disorder or another related mental health issue and can’t seem to get well — and STAY that way — on even a finely tuned cocktail of antidepressants, please ask your doctor or therapist to look into this.

(Feel free to reach out with comments and questions below — or here or here — if there’s enough interest, I may update with some FAQs about insurance, testing, and the supplements/prescriptions themselves.)