The Role of Oxidative Stress in Mental Health Disorders

By Samantha Gilbert, FNC, CHNP, CNC     Last updated on September 23rd, 2021

The Role of Oxidative Stress in Mental Health Disorders

A recent study from an international team of researchers in Granada (UGR) shows that depression is more than a mental disorder. Their research shows that depression causes alterations in oxidative stress levels and should be considered a systemic disease.

The study of nearly 4,000 subjects shows a correlation between measurable oxidative stress levels and the presence or absence of antioxidants in the body.

Oxidative stress is a major factor in several mental health disorders.

About 25% of our body’s total oxygen consumption is inside the brain. Oxygen is needed in the body to support life, but it also contributes to the creation of free radicals. These are molecules that destroy cell membranes and speed up the aging process. The brain is a lipid-rich environment that is highly susceptible to oxidative stress or redox imbalances, and can easily be damaged or compromised.

Anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, autism, and schizophrenia are all affected by oxidative stress in the body. These conditions improve with our antioxidant-rich advanced nutrient therapy protocol.

Inflamed tissues cause fluid to spill out of blood vessels. This fluid goes into the space between cells and begins to pile up. Inside the piles of fluid are tiny molecules that bounce around. These tiny molecules carry an unbalanced electrical charge and are called free radicals. Free radicals alter lipids, proteins, and DNA. When the free radical population becomes so large it can’t be regulated, oxidative stress will set in. Free radicals need to consume fresh electrons to keep their momentum, so they target our tissues and cells, causing disease states in the brain as well as the body.

In our research, we have found antioxidants to be a powerful weapon against free radicals and oxidative stress. Antioxidants act like sponges, soaking up free radicals. Antioxidants work because they are more electrochemically attractive to the free radicals than our body’s fats and proteins are. They recharge each other and reduce each other when they accept electrons. Once the antioxidant is reduced it’s ready to go out and soak up additional free radicals. The most proficient antioxidant for this job is vitamin C.

Over time antioxidants in the body will make DNA transcription a possibility.

This is the first step in gene expression. DNA is responsible for creating proteins that are vital ingredients in the creation of hormones, enzymes, and neurotransmitters.

When our bodies are biochemically out of balance due to free radical damage and oxidative stress it affects our gene expression.

As always, food and nutrients are powerful and great care should be taken before embarking on a new dietary and supplemental program.

If you know of someone who struggles with a mental disorder, please share this post. If you are struggling, please share your experience in the comments below. It is through sharing your story that we create community, eliminate guilt and shame, and bring about healing.


15 thoughts on “The Role of Oxidative Stress in Mental Health Disorders”

  1. Dr. Scott Sessions, DC, CCSP, CN

    Great subject! I am impressed with the level of knowledge most posters exhibit on this site. Clinical nutrition is a specialty in my practice. Most vitamins on the market contain ZERO vitamins, including Centrum, Flinstones, GNC, and the loved or hated MLM’s. Before I get sued by these companies, let me explain. By and large, these companies are using anti-oxidants in place of vitamins. For example, vitamin E is a molecule based on Selenium coupled with Xanthines, Lipositolss, and other essential fatty acids. To keep this molecule from breaking down, vitamin E (in nature) is protected by alpha, beta, gamma, and delta tocopherols. These tocopherols are anti-oxidants…it prevents the molecule from breaking down. Think of it like an apple. The anti-oxidants are in the skin. Once you break the skin, oxygen goes to work at the fresh nutrient rich food. It doesn’t take long before the apple flesh looks brown and undesirable. There is no such thing as a “SUPER FOOD.” All natural foods are pretty much super, when it comes to nutrition. We hear things all the time like “Blueberries are so high in anti-oxidants.” Well, guess what? All fruits and vegetables are really high in anti-oxidants. Here is the piece of information that is really important to know: The body does a really good job at rounding up these little renegades (the anti-oxidants) and moves them to the bladder where they are contained in the urine and ready for elimination when you void your bladder. This happens all within 20 minutes of consuming them. Let me pose 3 questions. If anti-oxidants are good for us, why does the the body work so hard to get rid of them? Why are anti-oxidants the #1 selling nutritional supplement? Who profits from this little scenario? Anti-oxidants work on O3 (free radicals) as well as O2 (the stuff we breath.) Be educated so that you can be well. Thanks

    1. Thanks for the info.
      I’m having pretty bad anxiety lately and all I’ve done was start taking Protandim and switched to purity coffee blended with MCT oil.
      I’ll eliminate one then maybe both to see what is causing this.
      I wonder what is happening.

  2. I’m dealing with anxiety that turned into ocd,thought disorder with depression setting in. I’m on Lexapro 20mg. Not helping. Therapist says maybe bipolar is setting in. Haven’t slept more than avg of 3 hrs a night in almost a year. Got a DNA test done but not seeing functional med dr until Aug 4. Getting worried. I’m on a list of supplements in low doses and can’t tolerate b12. Not sure what to try before I see dr. Going on vacation in 3 weeks. Want to enjoy it.

    1. I highly suggest reading Nutrient Power By Dr William Walsh! And find a Walsh Institute Dr near you. I am a patient of Mensah Medical and I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder years ago, no medication helped. I just found out I have pyrole disorder, I also Undermethylate, both biochemical conditions that make a person feel very sad and anxious. I’m feeling better with zinc and b-6!
      Good Luck!!!

  3. Shaun McKee, MD

    What an EXCELLENT article and right on point! Direct anti-oxidants that we take in the form of high dose vitamin supplements only seem to add fuel to the fire because they suppress the body’s OWN manufacture of much more powerful and effective anti-oxidant enzymes (SOD), catalase and glutathione as well as anti-inflammatory proteins. I know of only ONE peer-reviewed nutritional gene activator (nutrigenomic) that turns on the body’s ability to make MORE of those (and it does so within 30 days). Happy to answer any questions.

    1. “adding fuel to the fire” that’s why maybe why I always get worse on antioxidants like vitamin C even in tiny doses. Grape seed extract is an anti-oxidant, I felt horrible on it. I have also tried supplements to promote body’s production of SOD with terrible outcome. haven’t tried any glutathione promoter yet.

      1. The one I take isn’t actually marketed as a glutathione promoter however there is published peer-reviewed research demonstrating a 300% increase in intracellular glutathione after 120 days (one caplet per day), as well as a 30% increase in SOD and 54% in catalase after 30 days. The reason I take it is that it reduces oxidative stress by almost half in 30 days–that is a big deal for me as I understand oxidative stress is linked to hundreds of diseases (as well as aging itself).

          1. You should be skeptical as there is no one-size-fits all approach. I encourage you to be leery of MLM’s that make big promises. These products can do a lot of damage depending on your chemistry. This is why a custom tailored approach with a qualified practitioner, along with proper testing and a thorough assessment is key.

            1. Skeptical is good. I’m VERY careful about foods I put into my body and constantly check with my skilled medical provider to ensure there is no damage to my internal chemistry. The one that I’m discussing is the only one proven to do what it says in humans (in a peer-reviewed published study with a p value of 0.0001)…and it is basically “food” compressed into a convenient caplet. Works for thousands, since it’s food that has been used safely for centuries in humans. The synergy is key. And the fact that it works in concert with my internal chemistry through turning on the Nrf2 pathway. I recommend you sign up for Sami G’s comprehensive approach…expensive, but that’s the only way you’ll truly know what foods your internal chemistry is affected by.

          2. 100 % true
            one size fits all is the pharmaceutical approach. it’s being implemented now a lot in alternative modalities as well unfortunately. if you don”t mind you can share the name of the product; i will at least learn few concepts. i’m planning on working with sami soon.

            1. It’s protandim, an MLM company. We get several emails from them and Juice Plus folks trying to push their products. The primary aim of MLM’s is to make money. Sadly, they don’t realize their ingredients could have devastating effects on a person’s chemistry.

              1. Nutrigenomics is a burgeoning field that is helping hundreds of thousands of people become better by using nutrition (food) to turn on the “good genes” (anti-oxidant & anti-inflammatory enzymes, housekeeping & heat-shock proteins and anti-fibrotic enzymes) and to turn off “bad genes” (pro-inflammatory, pro-oxidant, and pro-fibrotic, etc) through natural Nrf2 activation (just like, to a lesser extent, broccoli and moderate exercise do)…When one becomes educated on the latest advances, skepticism is a great thing. However, when it leads to “reflex negativity”, it often results in a complete cessation of learning new information, which tends to be harmful in the end. If you would like to review the third-party, peer-reviewed independently funded published research with an open mind, I’ll be happy to direct you to the studies … having read the ongoing research, I have been very impressed with the data. Not to mention the thousands of people whose health has been changed for the better. Maybe a before and after consultation with Sami G to see first hand might be good.

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