Do you have highly sensitive physiology? (Test here…)
Do you deal with mood swings, depression, anxiety, and/or fatigue?
In this article, I’m going to simplify and address one of the most important subjects that may impact your health, moods, ability to focus, and emotional well being: The MTHFR gene. Why is this important? Because some estimates indicate that approximately half the population has variations in the the MTHFR gene.
First, let’s start with a few facts about highly sensitive physiology (or “the highly sensitive person” or “HSP” as it’s sometimes referred to):
People with highly sensitive physiology have enhanced awareness of their inner world. This includes thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, pain, and pleasure.
People with highly sensitive physiology have enhanced awareness of the outer world. This can include sight, sounds, other people, subtle cues, body language, art, music, nature, and situations.
People with highly sensitive physiology have increased processing in the part of the brain that integrates information from both the inner and outer worlds. This part of the brain is called the insular cortex.
Note: even if you’ve seen this before, it’s worth watching this short section on the brain again:
Stress, High Sensitivity & Neurotransmitters
In The Highly Sensitive Person, Dr. Elaine Aron talks about how people with highly sensitive physiology can develop neurotransmitter insufficiency during times of stress or long-term overarousal.
So there’s a potential double whammy and circular, negative feedback loop that can happen. If a person has one or more MTHFR gene mutations, then they are going to be prone to fatigue and reduced neurotransmitter production. That creates stress, which in turn creates a need for more neurotransmitters. The lack of neurotransmitter production caused by the MTHFR gene mutation creates more stress, and so on…
The MTHFR Gene
The MTHFR gene has been well studied and is known to be involved with neurotransmitter production. Here’s a quick overview:
The MTHFR gene mutation is common, can wreak havoc on neurotransmitter production, and can be managed with supplementation in many cases.
Since high sensitivity alone can lead to neurotransmitter insufficiency, any other condition in the body that impairs neurotransmitter production can lead to health challenges ranging from mood swings to depression or anxiety and even chronic pain. Having MTHFR gene mutations is one such condition.
What to Do? (The Good News)
If you struggle with mood swings, anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, or chronic pain, it’s a good idea to get tested for MTHFR gene mutations. You can simple ask your primary care physician for the test. You’ll have to have blood drawn and it takes about 2-4 weeks to get results. The good news is that if you do have this gene mutation, there are some relatively simple things you can do to address is and potential improve your health significantly.
If you prefer to order the test yourself, you can do so through a commercial service.
MTHFR is one of the big ones because it impacts physical energy, mood and neurotransmitter production. However there are other genes to be aware of. The book Dirty Genes by Dr. Ben Lynch is a great resource on this subject. It’s one of many book in the highly sensitive physiology library.