Common underlying causes of Mood Disorders

sad girl sits on bench | what causes mood disorders | Perpetual Wellbeing

What causes mood disorders such as anxiety and depression and what can you do to pinpoint the cause of feeling low or ‘out of sorts’? There are many causes and contributing factors to poor mood. Here we explore a few of the most common factors that we frequently see in clinic:

Stress: When stressed, the adrenal glands produce a hormone called Cortisol. If too much cortisol is produced over a period of time, adrenal fatigue or insufficiency may be experienced.   Symptoms include fatigue, anxiety, depression, hypotension, and lowered resistance to stress, salt cravings, hypoglycaemia and lowered immunity. Assessing cortisol, DHEA and other adrenal hormone levels may help to identify these patients and will assist effective therapy.

MTHFR: Genetic polymorphisms in the key enzyme MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase) can lead to a L-methylfolate deficiency which is not detected by standard folate blood tests. MTHFR polymorphisms, and thus lowered L-methylfolate levels is associated with symptoms and conditions such as mental health disorders, cardiovascular disease, obesity and birth defects.

Pyrroluria: A common feature of many mood disorders is pyroluria, which is caused by either over-production of hydroxyhemopyrrolin-2-one (HPL) during haemoglobin synthesis, or by the increased oxidative degradation of haemoglobin. HPL requires Vitamin B6 and Zinc for its elimination. The net result of this condition is inhibition of biochemical processes requiring B6 and zinc. One of the major biochemical processes requiring these nutrients is Neurotransmitter productions (brain / mood chemicals)

Hormones imbalances: Female hormones are tremendously complex and throughout the various phases of life, imbalanced hormones can pose challenges with mood stabilisation. The aging male experiences a decrease in testosterone at a rate of 10% per decade from the age of 30. Symptoms associated with low testosterone include reduced muscle mass, increased cardiovascular disease, lowered libido, depression, and a general decrease in well-being.

Nutrient deficiency: The production of brain chemicals requires a core group of nutrients (B vitamins, Zinc, Amino Acids, Magnesium, Iron, Calcium). Deficiency in any of these nutrients will eventually result in compromised production of these brain chemicals. Making sure you are getting enough of these nutrients in the diet is important, but even more important is ensuring the digestive system is functioning really well to enable the assimilation and absorption of these nutrients.


We recognise that when we’re asked what causes mood disorders the underlying triggers are different for every individual. We see many patients who may have been prescribed medication to assist with their mood, but still don’t feel quite right, or they may have chosen not to go down the prescribed medication path. We very often find that by investigating and then addressing the above, can make a world of difference to their mood. We will communicate with our patients’ GP’s, psychologists, psychiatrists or any other relevant health care professional, to keep them well informed of any investigation and suggested Natural health care plan that we might recommend.

To make an appointment to see one of our Clinical Nutritionists and Naturopaths, call our reception 07 3218 2799 or book online here.