Low-dose Naltrexone Helps With Depression & Anxiety

Apr 18, 2023

9 out of 10 of my chronic Lyme/mold toxicity patients experience depression and/or anxiety at some point along the way. Some of it is situational, meaning that those feelings are a natural response to loss, fear, overwhelm, and other challenges in the light of chronic, complex illness.

But depression and anxiety are also very real symptoms caused by infections, toxicities, and inflammation.

Thankfully, there are things we can do to help on the physical level. Low-dose Naltrexone is one thing that I have found to be very helpful.

Low-dose Naltrexone (LDN) is a compounded medication that I have used for many years with my Lyme patients, as well as kids I've worked with on the autism spectrum. It can be a great immune modulator, and can also help in relieving symptoms of pain, fatigue, insomnia, as well and psychological symptoms such as depression and anxiety.

LDN works by having a very mild binding effect on opioid receptors in the brain. This mild binding causes the body to upregulate production of enkephalins and endorphins.

Enkephalins are the naturally occurring chemicals in our body that help to balance immune function, hence LDN can help strengthen a weakened immune system as well as dampen heightened auto-immune responses.

Endorphins are our feel-good chemicals. When we have more endorphins we feel brighter, happier, less anxious and more balanced emotionally. Endorphins can also help reduce pain, boost energy and improve sleep.

LDN is also quite safe and relatively side-effect free. One side effect that I saw in approximately 10-20% of patients starting on LDN was a temporary sleep disturbance, however, since I've been starting people at 1/3 full dose (1.5mg) and titrating up over a couple of weeks (to 4.5mg), that side effect has pretty much disappeared.

LDN is contraindicated for people who take narcotic pain medications, or anyone who has had a transplant. LDN is a prescription medication that needs to be filled through a compounding pharmacy.

Obviously (and sadly) there is no one thing that works for everyone, and LDN is not a magic bullet. But I've seen some really positive responses to it for mood, as well as pain, energy and sleep. I've even had a few anecdotal reports of weight loss in people that were struggling with metabolic changes due to chronic illness.

With a good safety profile and not exorbitant cost, I feel that it's a good option to consider a therapeutic trial. I typically have my folks give it a month then we reassess. If it's not a hit, we don't continue it. If it's a hit, it's safe to take long-term without worry about dependence or withdrawal any time they choose to stop it.

If fatigue, pain, insomnia and depression/anxiety are part of your current predicament, you might consider LDN as an adjunct to other treatments you're doing.