Depression & Anxiety Test

June 9, 2022

Depression & Anxiety Test

Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD

Holistic Psychiatry & Hormones

Neurotransmitter Testing is very important for women with anxiety, depression, panic attacks, ADHD, PTSD, adrenal fatigue, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, and chronic mental health conditions. 

With neurotransmitter testing, we can pinpoint the patient’s individualized mental health weak spots.  

The problem with antidepressants and anti-anxiety medicine is that they are both a “One size fits all” treatment that assumes women with depression have low serotonin or norepinephrine deficiency, and women with anxiety have low GABA. As I discuss in my blog "Thyroid Depression," there are many causes of mood disorders with some being hormonal, emotional, and chemically caused by neurotransmitter imbalance.

While these are the #1 neurotransmitter deficiencies commonly impacting women’s mental health there are many variations to this picture and other neurotransmitters that can be individual weak spots such as low dopamine causing depression and chronic pain. Also, elevated histamine from Food Sensitivities and Food Allergies, can cause anxiety as histamine is an excitatory neurotransmitter. Elevated histamine then causes anxiety, and with anxious thoughts the patient experiences further elevation of epinephrine and norepinephrine which then cause shakiness, jitteriness, and even more anxiety. 

Low melatonin levels can cause insomnia and depression and are also tested for as shown below.

The great news is we have Neurotransmitter Testing that can be conducted via a simple urine test at 4 points throughout the day to determine which neurotransmitters are out of whack in my mental health patient so I can target “Amino Acid Therapy” to correct the problem. 

With amino acid therapy we are using the amino acids needed to make the deficient neurotransmitters in conjunction with vitamin and mineral cofactors to boost production. A classic example of amino acid therapy is using 5-HTP or tryptophan to boost serotonin levels. 

Women with depression and anxiety that do not respond well to typical mood medications are perfect candidates for Neurotransmitter Testing. Once the testing is completed, and I have received the results back then I can custom tailor the natural treatment plan that will specifically work to improve mood deficits. When we couple this test with mental health hormone testing for women we can vastly improve mental health without antidepressants!

Neurotransmitter Testing is one of my favorite parts of practicing Holistic Psychiatry because I get the opportunity to identify the underlying issue and improve the patient’s mood when not much else has been helpful previously. 

I personally found Neurotransmitter Testing helpful for my own mood as I have always struggled with anxiety and depression and seeing that my body simply makes zero serotonin explained a lot and helped me target my treatment to this specific neurotransmitter using amino acid therapy, diet changes, hormone balancing, vitamins and minerals that all boost serotonin production. 

It also explains why antidepressants did not work for me because I had ZERO serotonin for them to recycle. This is exactly why I experienced weight gain, dry mouth, stomach aches, and all of the side effects of antidepressants with ZERO benefits. I actually became in a WORSE mood because being thirty pounds overweight made me feel even more depressed.

Therefore I find neurotransmitter testing for patients with chronic anxiety, depression, and ADHD an important investment in their future mental health. This test can be life-saving for some mental health patients challenged with suicidal depression, as we can work quickly to target the specific problem that is individual for each patient. Otherwise, the doctor is basically randomly picking antidepressants and when they don't work, continue to switch the patient to a different antidepressant.

When we couple neurotransmitter testing with hormone testing we almost always can improve the patient's mood naturally! For women that rely on antidepressants and mental health medications it also helps us understand which medications will be the most useful.

How to collect your Neurotransmitter Test: 

  1. Schedule the date of your collection at least two days out, and when you are not on your menstrual cycle. Any blood in your urine will interfere with the test. 
  2. The day prior to collection avoid: bananas, pineapple, avocado, nuts, nut butters, protein powders, protein shakes, amino acid supplements, alcohol, and nicotine. This step must be followed.
  3. Refrain from drinking more than 8 oz of water in the HOUR before each dried urine strip collection to allow your urine to concentrate. Alternately do not avoid hydration as this may also cause the test to be inaccurate. Avoid hydration only the hour prior to each test strip. Don’t drink water upon waking, collect that urine instead and then set alarms in your phone for the hour prior to each collection time to remind you to stop drinking water, as well as alarms to remind you when you need to conduct the next test. 
  4. Don’t eat, drink anything but water, take vitamins or supplements or take medications (except what is considered mandatory by your doctor) until after the second urine collection. In general avoid excessive use of herbs, vitamins,  and supplements before and during this test to get the best results. Basically only take the things you will die without taking such as high blood pressure medications, and needed medications. You can generally skip your vitamins, herbs and supplements for one day prior.  

Collection Times: 

  1. Upon waking
  2. 2 Hours after waking
  3. Before dinner
  4. Before bed

How to Collect Urine: 

  1. Save the bag the collection card is in. 
  2. Write your name, date and time of collection on the card prior to collecting the sample. 
  3. Open the cover on the collection card. Fold it back and away from the filter paper. 
  4. Dip the filter paper directly into a clean cup or urinate directly on it up to the top of the black dash line. 
  5. Hang the card up to dry on a towel rack, ensuring that the urine-saturated filter paper does not touch anything. 
  6. Allow to dry completely. Once dry, refold the collection card and place the sample back into the baggie and seal. Make sure the absorbent pouch is still inside. 
  7. Repeat this process at the next three collection times. 

Finishing Steps: 

  1. Complete all paperwork. Ensure all sections are filled out and your form is signed. 
  2. Place the paperwork and samples back into the collection box. Snap the test kit lid shut. 
  3. Place the test kit in the shipping package and affix the prepaid label. 
  4. Allow 2-3 weeks for the lab to process your sampe. We will always call you when your test results are final. I do not practice "no news is good news." If greater than three weeks have gone by since the date you mailed your test please notify us immediately so we can contact the lab. 

This test generally just needs to be completed one time to identify the patient's individual mental health weak spots. Some of my patients with chronic pain, chronic fatigue, and severe depression or anxiety do prefer to repeat the test several months after they have started their treatment plan to ensure their amino acid treatment is working properly.

If you or your child would like my help improving your mental health with Naturopathy, I would be happy to help! Please keep in mind my service is not for everyone. Please do not sign your child or self up to work with me if not capable of taking supplements and making dietary changes as that is the type of medicine I practice. I want all my patients to always be a Naturopathic success story, and I will not be able to help anyone that cannot be committed to making these changes.

While I do provide integrated health services from my background of working in prescription Family Medicine for eight years, prescribing medications is truly boring for me and this is not what I prefer to do. There are many doctors that can treat you 100% with medications. I am comfortable working with a patient that is on medications and gradually taper them off the medication after a few months of using natural medicines. I always work to improve mental health first with natural medicines before tapering down medications.

I completely understand if you struggle with diet changes, and need to make them gradually. I am the same way, but realistically I cannot help anyone that is not on board with Naturopathy and nutrition. If diet changes are a challenge, you need to be able to at least take supplements regularly like medications as we work through the food and self love issues that accompany these challenges.

With the findings of neurotransmitter testing I then prescribe food as medicine that is rich in the amino acids you need to correct your neurotransmitter imbalance and/or you will need to take supplements. If you think you will be a good fit simply pop over to my SCHEDULE page to get your new patient visit set up. I would be happy to help you with your depression or anxiety!

Dr. Nicole Sundene

(480) 837-0900

Dr. Sundene is a Naturopathic Doctor in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is a Female Hormone Expert in Women's Health and Bioidentical Hormones. She specializes in Holistic Women's Health for Menopause,  Thyroid,  Hashimotos,  PMS, PerimenopauseAutoimmunePostpartumChronic Fatigue, DepressionAnxiety, Food Allergies,  DigestionDermatology, AcnePsoriasis Eczema, and Adrenal Hormonal Conditions. In 1999 she began working for a Hormone Doctor prior to starting Naturopathic Medical School. With over 23 years of experience in both Prescription and Natural women's health and hormones, she presents to women the best-integrated health solutions for their Chronic Disease. 

She has been an Herbalist for over 28 years and enjoys teaching women how to use herbs to balance their hormones, nutrition and optimize their health. Dr. Sundene relies on blood testing for her hormone metrics. The hormone testing is covered per the patient's insurance plan (not Medicaid) and conducted at certain points in the woman's menstrual cycle. To learn more about Hormone Testing for Women Visit: Bioidentical Hormones. Follow Dr. Sundene on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook for more tips on Women's Health, Female Hormones, and Naturopathy!

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Scottsdale, AZ 85254
Ph: 480-837-0900
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