MTHFR & Anxiety – My Story of Hope & Healing

 

FAIRY

I need to start by saying that I’m not a medical professional, and the information I share in this article is not a substitute for medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. The information I share is for general information only. Please consult your health care provide for any medical advice. This article contains an affiliate link.

I first heard of MTHFR sitting in my perinatologist’s office. My husband and I had gone through our second miscarriage, and my OB sent us to for additional blood work. While we discovered my miscarriages were likely caused by my inability to maintain progesterone levels in early pregnancy, the doctors also discovered a number of other underlying genetic conditions – one of which was an MTHFR mutation.

I know. It’s a weird abbreviation, but it stands for methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase and it’s a pretty important process.

“The MTHFR gene creates an enzyme necessary for processing amino acids, specifically, this enzyme converts a molecule called 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate to a molecule called 5-methyltetrahydrofolate.” 

You might have caught a part of that word you recognize – folate. MTHFR is necessary for our bodies to turn folate (vitamin B9) in our food into methylfolate used for a number of important processes.

MTHFR mutations and pregnancy are often spoken of together – the primary concern being that the mother’s body doesn’t have the necessary enzyme to process folate and pass that key nutrient onto her baby. From BabyCenter.com, “Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects (NTDs) – serious birth defects of the spinal cord (such as spina bifida) and the brain (such as anencephaly). The neural tube is the part of the embryo from which your baby’s spine and brain develop. NTDs affect about 3,000 pregnancies a year in the United States.” 

It was during my pregnancy that I discovered, learned about, and treated my body for the effects of the MTHFR mutation.

But it wasn’t until about a year after my youngest child was born that I went on to do my own research about how an MTHFR mutation might affect my own body. What I found helped me make sense of an issue I had faced my entire life – anxiety.

Some background… While I remember feeling anxious even as a young child, I wouldn’t say that I have ever experienced crippling episodes. I have always just been a little nervous. I thought it was just who I was. But there is a link between a MTHFR mutation and anxiety that I didn’t discover until recently.

So here’s how this works.

The gene MTHFR allows our bodies to turn the folate in our food into methylfolate. Methylfolate enables our bodies to convert the amino acid homocysteine to another amino acid, methionine. The body then uses methionine to make proteins and other important compounds, including neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine). And serotonin is super important to mental health.

So, I know you’re intelligent, and able to follow along, but just in case all of these ridiculous words and chemical processes are confusing, here’s a breakdown.

1.) MTHFR produces the enzyme needed to turn folate in food into a form of the vitamin our bodies use – methylfolate

2.) Methylfolate helps our bodies convert the amino acid hymocysteine to another amino acid methionine.

3.) Our bodies then use methionine to make compounds like serotonin.

4.) Serotonin appears to be specifically important in feelings of well being, and deficiencies are highly related to anxiety and depression. 

It’s a long process, but when I followed the trail, I realized that my body’s inability to properly process folate actually contributed to the anxiety I experienced all of my life. Crazily, one study suggests that up to 40% of the population has some form of MTHFR mutation.

The good news for me was when I discovered that there are companies that make daily vitamins with methylfolate in them. This means that this nutrient doesn’t need to be converted by my body. It is already in the form my body can absorb. They call vitamins like these bioavailable nutrients. (That’s just a fun bonus fact.)

The Honest Company is just one of many vitamin suppliers that has methylfolate in their vitamins.

Like I said, the information I share in this article is not a substitute for medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Please consult your health care provide for any medical advice.

Because we’re all friends here, I needed to share my story. It was a connection I wish someone had pointed out to me years ago. Maybe you know someone who suffers from anxiety too? Maybe it’s you? You can read more about my thoughts on Christian women and anxiety here. 

And if you suffer from anxiety, I might not be able to offer any medical advice, but I can pray for you.

The truth is, while I was able help myself by taking an appropriate vitamin, I still occasionally suffered from anxiety. I didn’t even recognize some of my behaviors as anxiety… Things like feeling as though everything was too big. Like there was too much to do, and I’d never get it done, but not wanting to do any of it. I wanted to pretend like I hadn’t gotten the text message or email. I wanted to avoid projects that seemed to hard. And often everything felt like too much.

But after an experience in a church service just a few weeks ago, I am experiencing a new level of freedom from anxiety that I hadn’t ever before. I shared that on my Facebook Page here. I’d love to share the rest of the story and pray for you  below. (Skip to minute 8:30)

Comments

  • Jennifer says:

    Wow!! I am so glad I saw this tonight!! Crazy thing, I have anxiety and just last week had the genetic testing done. Can’t wait for my results. Also, I feel like everything you said you experienced and didn’t realize was anxiety is totally me. I had no idea that was my anxiety either. So crazy!! Makes total sense now after hearing you speak about it. Thank you for the prayer!!

  • Kristin stewart says:

    I would love to talk to you more about this. This is my story except without knowing the solution. Is that an honest co vitamin?

  • Sumer says:

    Becky,
    I’m standing in the kitchen in tears because you just described my current feelings exactly. Just like you, after my second miscarriage they ran an extra blood panel and found that I had MTHFR as well. The gave me a progesterone pill and high folic acid supplement and told me I’d be fine. Nobody ever really explained the mutation to me and I suppose I assumed (never a good idea,lol) that because they weren’t concerned, it didn’t affect anything other than pregnancy. I didn’t give too much thought after and I’ve had two beautiful children since for a total of three! Reading this article tonight has completely BLOWN MY MIND! It never ceases to amaze me how your words speak to whatever situation I’m currently in. Almost like God is using you for my personal counselor if you will! Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your life, even the messy parts, with us. I hope you know just how much good your words are doing every day! Love you, friend! -Sumer in Pensacola, FL

  • Anna says:

    I was diagnosed a year ago. My daughter was diagnosed before me after 2 miscarriages too. Now I do have a healthy granddaughter who is almost 2.

  • Ashley Elin says:

    Hi! Crazy that I saw this article because I, too, have MTHFR. We lost 7 babies as well. I am done having children, but my youngest is 3 and I finally decided to get checked out and see if I still needed to be treating it. I just found out that there were vitamins formulated just for us! I found and ordered B-Plex Pro from Amazon. I feel a lot better! Crazy what this does to our body! Excited to get back on track!

  • Anna says:

    Thank you for praying for us. I described the way I feel. I knew I had anxiety but didn’t know why it was so bad. I don’t want to answer emails , the phone or do my chores around the house. I use to love those things. I struggle everyday. Thank you for sharing.

  • Martha says:

    Thank you for sharing and praying tonight. I have a similiar story of deliverance from depression and anxiety. And today God was speaking to my heart about fear that immobilized my ability to make decisions and feeling overwhelmed. He impressed to me today that his love can cast out all fear. All fear. I’ve been healed but still holding on to some fears. Your video tonight was just the word I needed to hear.

  • Robin reush says:

    You look great honey

  • Andrea Heavner says:

    God has been speaking to me through so many different means today!! So to end this day coming across your blog about this vitamin deficiency and the anxiety you have dealt with…and the freedom you now have…it’s the highlight of all the things God has been saying to me today. Thank you so much for being so open and sharing your story!! The pieces of my puzzles are coming together and I am finally finding the resources I need to not only help me overcome my depression and anxiety but to also help my family. To God be the glory!!!

  • Kacee says:

    I totally feel you. I am heterozygous for the MTHFR mutation, and for the last few years I’ve felt nothing but total chaos in my world. 4 kids, full time job, and I’m constantly avoiding pretty much any activity that requires thought. My job has become so hard, the multitasking is just too much anymore. I thought it was adult ADD… but maybe not. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Julie Skeens says:

    Becky, thank you so much for praying for me and everyone else watching this video and thank you for sharing your struggles. I feel like everything you say about your life is a mirror image of the things I say about my life. Anxiety has become a part of my everyday life since the birth of my first child over 9 years ago. Looking back, anxiety has been apart of my life for as long as I can remember but, after have our first child it drastically increased and began consuming me and my life. So thankful I serve a God that will lift me up when I can’t seem to go on and that loves me more than I deserve. You rock girl!!!

  • April Hutchison says:

    It’s nice to hear someone else that “knows” they have the genetic mutation. I just found out last year and have been taking certain vitamins since. I never correlated anxiety to that though and it makes me think about a lot now! Very interesting. Thank you for sharing your story!!

  • Tricia Long says:

    Wonderful testimony. I too struggle with anxiety along with depression. I’m 53. My sons are grown and married and now my full time “job” is watching my sweet grandsons. Even though my life has been blessed and God has been so merciful to me, I still long for healing. It’s been a huge struggle for me to not end it all. My husband is wonderful, my family is wonderful! There is no reason to feel this way. I long to be delivered from myself.
    I don’t know if this is the kind of comment you expected. But, I am genuinely happy that our Lord has healed you.

  • Micah Akinpetide says:

    Thank you for sharing!Your experience with anxiety sounds exactly like what I am going through. I would love some prayers and to be free. Thanks again,Micah

  • Rhonda Hurtt says:

    Thank you for being obedient.

  • Shelly O says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I was diagnosed with the MTHFR mutation after one child and three miscarriages. (I now have five children) I never thought of it’s connection with anxiety, but I’ve dealt with anxiety for as long as I can remember. Interesting to see a connection.

  • Heidi says:

    Umm just wow. Im a mess now lol thank you for not only sharing your heart with us and being so transparent, Becky but for praying with and over us all! I needed that more than I even knew!

    I’ve been struggling with alot of anxiety over an ended friendship and dealing with alot of guilt wondering if I’m being a “bad” Christian and not lovin this person thru their mess while knowing bc of a choice they made it was a toxic relationship at this point and needed to be ended.

    They don’t know I feel this way tho and wouldn’t understand my decisions, which is what’s causing the most anxiety. Just wanna do right by God but know forgiveness doesn’t constitute a relationship either.

    Thank you again!

  • Erin says:

    I’m so glad to have come across this story and I’m so happy to hear of more and more people learning about this issue. We have been on a similar path with our son and have been SO grateful to have reduced his anxiety and ADHD symptoms dramatically. Like life-saving and life-changing. MTHFR effects can range from virtually nothing in some people to debilitating in others. Awareness is step number 1 ! Here’s a link to our story for anyone wondering about kids and/or ADHD. (BTW, I’m not a doctor either!) http://www.honestlyadhd.com/MTHFR-magical

  • Summer says:

    This is awesome. SO GOOD. You are describing my daughter to a T. I am calling the doctor asap to get her levels checked! Thank you, Becky, for your transparency and honesty. Praise the Lord for showing you the solution that works for you! Praying we find the solution for our people, too!

  • Nicole says:

    Thank you so much for this post and video!! I have been struggling with a specific anxiety disorder – OCD – for almost 2 years now. I am on medication and was in therapy for a little over a year. Ultimately I am trusting God for healing and breakthrough. But, even if that doesn’t come, I am learning to trust that no matter what – He’s got this. I appreciate your vulnerability to share your heart and for being an advocate for all of us. Thank you for praying over us and for your beautiful character. I have been blessed by you today.

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