Is excessive Glutamate causing your depression and anxiety?

I have long pondered upon the connection between Glutamate, GABA and mental health through my own experiences with mental health issues. It seems that my mental health issues are connected to excessive levels of Glutamate, and I suspect this is the case for many who are suffering from mental health issues, as well as neurological issues. Glutamate is a stimulating neurotransmitter, and GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. Excessive levels of glutamate will cause neurotoxicity and lead to neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, many neurological diseases such as anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s, Dementia, OCD, Parkinson’s disease among many others are connected to excessive glutamate levels which cause these neurodegenerative diseases to develop.

Through my research, many neurological and mental health issues are connected to excessive levels of Glutamate. High glutamate levels can be caused by various reasons; such as having a genetic predisposition to it through having too many variants of the GAD1 gene, which will cause slower conversion of Glutamate to GABA.

I believe that racing thoughts are linked to excessive glutamate levels. I’ve noticed that my mind becomes calm and quiet through the various interventions mentioned below. I feel that this happens due to reducing excitation by lowering Glutamate levels and increasing GABA levels.

  1. The Ketogenic diet: Which favors the conversion of glutamate to GABA, and also reduces excitation by lowering by lowering intracellular levels of calcium and sodium (higher levels lead are caused by Glutamate, which increases excitation and leads to cell death).

  2. Eliminating coffee and caffeine: Caffeine increases glutamate levels and will lead to anxiety and racing thoughts. It inhibits the release of GABA, which further increases anxiety levels. My mind has become very calm and quiet since eliminating caffeine, indicating my GABA levels have increased.

  3. Cardiovascular exercise: The right amount of exercise and the correct amount has a profound affect on my mental health and my mind will become very quiet and calm. My negative, racing thoughts and rumination pretty much completely subside after exercising. Exercise can have this effect for various reasons. First of all, exercise increases neurotransmitter levels such as GABA, and it decreases cortisol levels which will also reduce glutamate levels as cortisol increases glutamate as well. Furthermore, glutamate re-uptake is abnormal in those with neurodegenerative diseases, which causes excess glutamate to build up in the brain. There is evidence that exercise can reduce glutamate build up in the brain in these individuals, by increasing the use of glutamate in the brain which can slow the progression of the disease. I suspect that those with mental health issues also may have abnormal re-uptake of glutamate thus exercise will help them as well.

  4. Omega 3 fatty acids: From my experience, consuming foods high in Omega 3’s such as salmon also produce this effect. Research suggests that omega 3’s reduce membrane excitability. Nerve impulses increase after exposure to Glutamate, and after exposure to omega 3 EPA the frequency of nerve cells decrease, and the cells become less sensitive to the toxic effects of glutamate. It is also suggested that Omega 3’s protect against excitation by blocking ion channels responsible for nerve cell excitation. Glutamate increases intracellular calcium concentrations, which leads to cell death. It is not yet known how omega 3 fatty acids block ion channels.

If you’re suffering from mental health issues or a neurological disease, it may be worth trying these interventions to reduce Glutamate levels which lead to neurotoxicity and the development of neurodegenerative diseases.

Britney Becker