World Expert Calls for New Approach to Depression Treatment

Dr_David_Haase_Maxwell_ClinicPresenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest: Dr. David Haase
Guest Bio: David Haase, MD is the founder and medical director of the MaxWell Clinic- a Collaborative-Care, Functional Medicine Clinic. He is committed to finding and addressing the underlying causes of illness in his patients -one aspect of which has led to the development of the remarkably successful Allergy Drop Program at the MaxWell Clinic. Dr. Haase is a reviewer for the “Textbook of Functional Medicine”, and lectures nationwide on functional medicine, whole person approaches to cancer prevention and treatment, and the Creation of Health.

Segment overview: Understanding the role of inflammation of the gut and brain may be the way of the future with the diagnosis of depression. World renowned neurologist and functional medicine expert, Dr Haase is calling for a rethink of the way we diagnose psychiatric disorders. He recommends brain scans, called Quantitative EEG diagnostic scans, to measure the brain against a database of healthy brains. This technology is available in Australia.


Health Professional Radio

Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. My name is Wayne Bucklar and my guest in studio today is Dr. David Haase. Now David’s joined us in Australia to attend the Third BioCeuticals Research Symposium 2015 and he’s agreed to tell us about his research and what’s going on. Welcome to Australia David.

Dr. David Haase: Wayne it’s great to be here. I enjoyed the hospitality of the country already.

W: That’s splendid to hear. Now I understand that your work looks at understanding the role of inflammation of the gut and the brain and how that may affect the diagnosis of depression. Can you explain how that links together for us?

H: Certainly. It starts with the fascination of being curious about just how does our brain work, isn’t it a remarkable thing to ponder and often times we’re so consumed in the day to day of living, of thinking, of feeling, that we don’t sit back and say, “How is all this happening anyway?” And depression is a single condition that we can look at as a model of understanding a more broad way of this brain-body-being thing we call “life.” And so what we’ve done is to step back and say, “Hmmm what is depression?” What is depression on a more robust, a definition of a more robust nature? For instance, is it just a symptom that we name it and then we want to blame the depression for the problem and then we tame it with a drug or is depression a bio chemical reality which we can certainly start to measure various molecules that help, that indication of underlying causes of depression. You know that simply such as you look a B12 deficiency or thyroid hormone deficiency or is it even an electro-physiological manifestation. The brain is an electric organ and we can measure the brain waves and compare those against FDA-registered databases to have an understanding of what is the set point of this individual that’s sitting with us that is played with this very profound symptom of depression. And so there are things called alpha waves and asymmetry for example of this alpha waves from the right hemisphere to the left hemisphere is a well-defined and well described marker for depression. So we can look at depression from a brain wages standpoint and then the stepping back and saying, “Hmmm some individuals are just fine until they encounter some type of a biological challenge. Something that raises their inflammatory state.” We see this with individuals who are given interfere on alpha for the treatment of hepatitis C. Many of these individuals will go into an acute depression state and that isn’t that curious right? That wouldn’t be a psychological thing…

W: It is indeed curious.

H: And so if we’re fascinated by what causes this, you start to dive into literature and recognize that many markers of inflammation are predictive of how intense a depressive episode will be in a susceptible individual. So it’s not all individuals that become depressed as a result of an inflammatory burst but those individuals who have a genetic susceptibility and maybe a sociological or psychological susceptibility but that’s the tipping point that takes them over.

W: So David is depression common in Australia or is it common for that matter around the world?

H: It’s a worldwide epidemic and it’s increasing in every location. I think that has probably more to do with the export of McDonalds and the western style of eating and the increased stress load and decreased sleep and increased 24 hour a day light exposure and odd sleep cycles. There is not a single reason for depression to occur. It’s not like your catching a virus right? Like “I caught a cold, I caught depression.” No, its’ a multifactorial causation with many nuances in a factual expression. And the point of the seminar that I will be leading at the 3rd BioCeuticals Symposium this year – Friday, Saturday and Sunday of this week – is really to set back and say, “Hmmm how can we be more curious?” And I find that I don’t necessarily have all the answers, I find some new answers but it’s so much fun as a physician to again get to be curious not just be constrained with what the pharmaceutical model would tell us, this is the approach impression but say, “Hmmm is there a way we can look from a scientific standpoint to more accurately assess reality?” and thereby produce better results for our patients and frankly more joy of practice for ourselves.

W: It does seem to me that when we start to talk about issues of the brain, the various specializations are almost mutually exclusive. The talk therapy people don’t tend to get involved with the science stuff that neurosurgeons get involved with, they don’t tend to get involved with same stuff that others specialist get involved with. Is your approach more holistic than it is traditional?

H: Wayne that’s a brilliant observation you’ve made there. Because the brain is our organ of bias, right? All of our understanding of the world is our bias. And we all have a bias that’s essentially what makes us human, bias kinds of get a negative connotation but we all have a bias.

W: Yup.

H: And no matter what we do every day, that actually grows the brain that gets better at doing that every day. So if you’re a surgeon you’re gonna keep looking at structure; if you’re a psychologist you’re not gonna try to understand the brain you’re gonna look at the story; if you’re a sociologist you’re going to look at the systems of that person lives in and it goes on and on. Depending upon the bias that which your brain to try and understand this incredible phenomena we call a “brain and cognition.” And so yes my approach is an approach that’s trying to be honest about the biases that exist and say, “Hmmm which would be the best approach for this particular individual?” Is it a biochemical approach, is it using Neurofeedback, is it using a biochemical evaluation of the gut, of neurotransmitter function, of inflammatory status, instead saying “How do we find the right tool for the right job?” and it’s a wonderful exercise to continue to ask this question and occasionally gonna after.

W: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio with Wayne Bucklar. My guest in conversation is Dr. David Haase who is here in Australia to speak to the BioCeuticals Conference on the weekend. Now this is an opportunity, I guess David, that we don’t normally have to talk to someone who’s a world leading expert in this. What are the causes of depression and what can people do to reduce those levels in your view?

H: Well number one if we think about depression, the first thing we have to recognize that it is a symptom and it’s not a thing in it up itself. It is a very real symptom and it is life limiting on phenomenal levels to individuals who are so afflicted. But if we look at the symptom and have it drive better questioning, then we have more possibilities to find the solution for ourselves as an individual. So every symptom I feel is meaningful. It’s the body crying out to say, “Hmmm something is wrong here. Please find it …” and address the underlying cause. So that being said there are several thing that are common causes. Number one sleep deprivation, this is something I’m experiencing at the moment although I’m not depressed. (Chuckles) The flight to Australia is quite a time turner in one’s physiology. So much of our reality is based upon day-night cycles and getting light during the day and enjoying complete darkness at night is quite important. And we see this also with individuals who have a sessional effective disorder in a more depression during the winter time. So just the exposure to light can be really remarkable. The secondly is exercise, we make serotonin in a place called dorsal raphe nucleus the ventral dorsal and ventral raphe nucleus, these are the two areas in a brain where it makes serotonin you know the “happy chemical.” It is made predominantly in those areas and release during movement, during exercise and never have there been a more effective, consistently effective therapy than exercise for depression. Again, eating a lots leafy green vegetables, your mother was right “Eat your vegetables.” And those of leafy green vegetables have a lot of B12, folic acid and other nutrients that are important in preventing depression. It seem very clearly by population studies that individuals who have higher level of this in their blood stream, and that it comes from diet or supplementation have fewer issues with depression. There’s multiple nutritional supplements that maybe appropriate for a particular individual. One of them is Fem-E … has been showing and have had studies versus pharmaceuticals to improve mood and actually joint pain. So the list kind of goes on and on because the cause of depression is not the same for everyone and it’s usually a multifactorial cause, not a singular cause.

W: Now there was this of close association between depression and suicide as I understand the statistics. This is a life limiting condition. Do you think the things you’ve been suggesting which essentially diet and exercise, is this sufficient to deal with something that is so threatening?

H: I think when you were saying ‘sufficient,’ we always have to be careful.

W: Uh huh.

H: Because I don’t believe we ever really hit that level in healthcare. When we can only know that through a device called the retrospectoscope, right? (chuckles) That device allows us to look back in time like “I should have done this or I should have that.” I will say that what I advocate is something called ‘No Alternative Medicine.” It means that there is no alternative to getting enough sleep, there is no alternative to eating great food, and there is no alternative to getting enough sleep. If you want to experience your fullest health potential and so whether or not is not it’s enough that we can only know at retrospect. However let me tell you about a study I’m gonna be presenting and this is a study looking at the brains of individuals who had committed suicide and they took these brains and actually sampled the level of inflammatory markers in the brain and individuals who are depressed versus not depressed had a dramatically different pattern of inflammatory molecules in areas of the brain that are central to mood regulation. And these individuals who committed suicide versus depressed individuals who did not commit suicide versus normal controls, it was profound how much more inflammation in the brain the individuals who committed suicide has. And I think with our current pharmacologic single interventional model, we’re missing the boat on potentially helping people through a multidimensional approach to depression which includes looking, first of all acknowledging depression as a cause then looking for underlying causes of inflammation and then going after those individual causes of inflammation. Many of which tend to be centered in the gut because that’s where a large majority of our immune system lives so individuals who change their diet, individuals who are sensitive to gluten once they get off of gluten it’s profound the changes in mood that occur for those particular individuals. So if you’re asking is it sufficient, it is not sufficient but it’s certainly necessary.

W: It sounds, David, like a fascinating study. Now I am under pressure from the clock here so let me ask you what I guess is my favorite closing question. What do you think is the greatest misconception amongst patient’s, client, and clinician’s about depression that drives you nuts and keeps you awake at night?

H: The greatest misconception is that depression fell down from the sky and hit them on the head or that depression was caused by a single event, not triggered maybe by a single event in the context of their entire body-brain being reality – that’s what drives me crazy. And if individuals can grasp the fact that they have incredible potency to heal and to shift their mood state from many different angles in our healthcare our momentarium, that’s what I hope for them. That they would recognize how much potential they have to thrive.

W: Dr. David Haase it’s fascinating to talk to you and I’m sure the participants of the BioCeuticals Research Symposium on the weekend will also enjoy hearing from you. And with a little bit of lack and some grace on your side, maybe some of that misconception amongst those people will be alleviated by hearing what you’ve got to say. I’m sure the audience will be absolutely wrapped at the presentation of your research and your encyclopedic knowledge of the issue as it sounds to me. Can I say ‘thank you’ for appearing on HPR. We’ve appreciated the time with you.

H: Wayne it’s a delight to be with you and to be here in Australia. You have a phenomenal country here.

W: Thank you very much. On behalf of the country, I’ll take the credit.

H: (Laugh)

W: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio. A transcript to this interview and an audio archive is available on our website This is Wayne Bucklar for Health Professional Radio.

Liked it? Take a second to support healthprofessionalradio on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!