Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Subscribe to the Magazine for free
Subscribe for free to keep reading! If you are already subscribed, enter your email address to log back in.
Thanks for subscribing!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Are you a healthcare practitioner?
Thanks for subscribing!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Top Labs To Run Bi-Annually On Your Depression Patients

Medically reviewed by 
Top Labs To Run Bi-Annually On Your Depression Patients

If you have ever experienced depression or have had a friend or loved one go through it, you understand how this condition can significantly impact daily life. This medical condition can affect 1 in 10 adults in the U.S. and 5% of teens. Depression can present with many symptoms similar to other physical conditions making it difficult to diagnose. Therefore, proper investigations, including regular testing, are needed to help this growing population effectively manage this debilitating condition. This article will provide some insights into some of the labs that can be completed to help people with depression improve their quality of life.


What is Depression?

Depression is considered a mental health condition. It can affect our emotions, thought processes, and reactions. Additionally, depression can negatively impact our daily activities, such as work, caring for ourselves and others, and sleeping. There are a few different categories of depression, including major depression, persistent depressive disorder, perinatal depression, seasonal affective disorder, and psychosis. One type of depression is major depression, where symptoms of loss of interest or depressed mood can last at least two weeks.

Persistent depressive disorder, or dysthymia, is less severe but can last much longer. Persistent depressive disorder is named that way because this disorder can last at least two years. Perinatal depression occurs during pregnancy or after delivery (postpartum), and seasonal affective disorder is depression that can happen during certain seasons, such as fall and early winter. Symptoms of psychosis that include hallucinations and delusions represent another type of depression. No matter which type of depression, all of these can cause issues in our overall quality of life.

What Causes Depression?

Depression is a multifaceted mental health condition, and many factors can lead to the development of depression. The CDC states that some of these factors include family history, alcohol or drug use, trauma, stressful events, medical issues such as cancer, and certain medications, which can all cause depression.

Other health factors can also potentially cause depression, like nutrient deficiencies, environmental toxins, hormone imbalances, and genetics. Deficiencies in micronutrients such as B vitamins, minerals, zinc, vitamin D, and essential fatty acids can contribute to a myriad of health issues. These deficiencies have even been linked to depression. These nutrients play a vital role in neurotransmitter production and signaling. An example is vitamin B6, which is needed for the production of serotonin and melatonin, all of which are essential for healthy mental function.

Other factors include environmental toxins such as exposure to cadmium and mercury, which were indicated in depression or prediction of depression. Imbalances in hormones have also been associated with symptoms of depression. Some examples include hormonal changes during life transitions such as menopause, postpartum, and puberty or hormonal disorders like hypothyroidism can all increase the risk of depression. Lastly, family history and genetics can increase the risk of developing severe depression by up to 50%.

Depression Symptoms

Symptoms of depression can vary with each person, and not everyone will experience every symptom. These symptoms are no longer considered just a mental health disorder. There are also biochemical and physiological associations to the symptoms. The following are some common symptoms associated with depression:

● Continuous feelings of sadness or anxiousness

● No longer desiring to do activities that were fun in the past

● Easily frustrated and irritable

● Disruptions of sleep

● Fatigue

● Pain that isn't relieved by treatment

● Inability to concentrate

● Decreased cognition

● Suicidal thoughts

Importance of Regular Lab Testing for Depression Patients

Depression is a complex disorder that can manifest in various symptoms. These symptoms can change and vary, making diagnosis and treatment challenging. Some patients with depression may present with only physical symptoms making it difficult to diagnose depression. However, functional labs and regular testing for these varying physical symptoms can help provide practitioners with insights into the underlying factors contributing to these physical symptoms of depression. These varying symptoms highlight the importance of recognizing the physical symptoms and performing lab tests to help address these symptoms.

Top Labs To Run Bi-Annually on Your Depression Patients

Due to depression also having biochemical triggers, functional labs can help manage this condition and allow for integrative approaches such as nutritional and lifestyle modifications for treatment. Here are some top labs that should be considered on a bi-annual basis for patients with depression:

Genetic Screening

Genetics has been indicated in developing severe depression, accounting for around 40-50% of the risk. Some genes have been shown to impact the production and metabolism of neurotransmitters like serotonin, GABA, norepinephrine, and dopamine. The metabolism of these neurotransmitters can affect depression treatment making this testing valuable to provide insights into how patients with certain genetic variations can process medications and herbs prescribed. This genetic test can be completed easily through a salivary swab and analyzes over 134 genes that influence metabolism, inflammation, and response to diet and supplements. Although this test only needs to be completed once, it was necessary to mention it as it can help determine dosing for treatment.

Neurotransmitter Test

Neurotransmitters are chemical molecules that regulate signals from brain neurons to other cells in the body. These neurotransmitters are associated with mental health, emotions, energy levels, and responses to pain. The neurotransmitter test is completed through a urine sample and can provide a comprehensive look into levels of neurotransmitters and any imbalances that may be occurring. The results can give insights into the effectiveness of treatments or medications and should be run regularly if treatment adjustments need to be assessed.

Micronutrient Panel

Nutrient deficiencies can impact mental health issues and have been shown to be associated with increasing the risk of depression. Nutrients such as zinc, B vitamins, and amino acids are essential in producing neurotransmitters, and deficiencies can cause imbalances leading to insomnia or depression. Regular testing for micronutrient levels can help identify deficiencies and guide practitioners in creating specific nutritional interventions and adjusting those interventions based on the results to support mental health, improve symptoms of depression, and enhance overall well-being. Practitioners often use this micronutrient panel completed through a blood sample to analyze many of the nutrients that may be deficient in patients with depression.

Comprehensive Hormone and Thyroid Panel

Imbalances in hormones, such as decreased levels of thyroid hormones, can affect neurotransmitters and have been associated with depression symptoms. Hormone changes can occur regularly, stressing the importance of regular testing to address any hormone imbalances that may occur. Monitoring hormones can allow practitioners to address changes and make the necessary treatment adjustments. Both the comprehensive hormone and thyroid panel can be completed through a blood sample. It will provide practitioners with a thorough analysis of all the hormones that can be implicated in depression symptoms.

Hair Elements

Exposure to metals such as mercury and cadmium can impact the nervous system negatively and has been linked with the development of depression. These environmental toxins are everywhere. Therefore regular testing for these various chemicals can provide insight into any associated symptoms between these toxins and the symptoms of depression they may cause. The hair elements test is an excellent test completed through a hair sample to analyze for these toxins. The results can aid practitioners in managing any overexposure that may be occurring, thus reducing the associated symptoms.



According to a study that was conducted in 14 countries, a staggering 69% of patients with depression conveyed that they only had somatic symptoms. The physical symptoms are often attributed to other conditions, which can lead to misinterpretations of these symptoms. Regular testing utilizing functional labs along with a thorough intake can help mitigate some of these misinterpretations to provide better outcomes and prevent any delays in proper treatments for patients with depression.

The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement or making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.
Learn More

Lab Tests in This Article

  1. (2023, February 21). Retrieved July 12, 2023, from Rupa Health website:
  2. Depression. (2023). Retrieved July 12, 2023, from National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) website:
  3. CDCTobaccoFree. (2023, March 14). Mental Health Conditions: Depression and Anxiety. Retrieved July 12, 2023, from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website:
  4. (2022, January 11). Retrieved July 12, 2023, from Rupa Health website:
  5. (2021, December 10). Retrieved July 12, 2023, from Rupa Health website:
  6. Xia, F., Li, Q., Luo, X., & Wu, J. (2022). Machine learning model for depression based on heavy metals among aging people: A study with National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2017-2018. Frontiers in public health, 10, 939758.
  7. Herson, M., & Kulkarni, J. (2022). Hormonal Agents for the Treatment of Depression Associated with the Menopause. Drugs & aging, 39(8), 607–618.
  8. Bode, H., Ivens, B., Bschor, T., Schwarzer, G., Henssler, J., & Baethge, C. (2021). Association of Hypothyroidism and Clinical Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA psychiatry, 78(12), 1375–1383.
  9. Payne, J. L., & Maguire, J. (2019). Pathophysiological mechanisms implicated in postpartum depression. Frontiers in neuroendocrinology, 52, 165–180.
  10. Thapar, A., Collishaw, S., Pine, D. S., & Thapar, A. K. (2012). Depression in adolescence. Lancet (London, England), 379(9820), 1056–1067.
  11. Major Depression and Genetics. (2018). Retrieved July 12, 2023, from Genetics of Brain Function website:
  12. Gold, P. W., Machado-Vieira, R., & Pavlatou, M. G. (2015). Clinical and biochemical manifestations of depression: relation to the neurobiology of stress. Neural plasticity, 2015, 581976.
  13. Depression. (2020). Retrieved July 13, 2023, from NCCIH website:
  14. Greden, J. F., Parikh, S. V., Rothschild, A. J., Thase, M. E., Dunlop, B. W., DeBattista, C., … Dechairo, B. (2019). Impact of pharmacogenomics on clinical outcomes in major depressive disorder in the GUIDED trial: A large, patient- and rater-blinded, randomized, controlled study. 111, 59–67.
Subscribe to the Magazine for free to keep reading!
Subscribe for free to keep reading, If you are already subscribed, enter your email address to log back in.
Thanks for subscribing!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Are you a healthcare practitioner?
Thanks for subscribing!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.