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  • Writer's pictureDr. Ni Li

Root causes of mental health concerns

by Dr. Ni Li, ND

Meet Emma, a 37-year-old woman who had been struggling with significant anxiety and panic. Despite trying various medications and anti-anxiety herbs, she hadn't experienced substantial relief. In addition to her mental health challenges, she also dealt with brain fog, weight loss resistance, and heavy periods. When her blood work results came back, they revealed severe iron deficiency anemia, insulin insensitivity, and glucose control dysfunction. Furthermore, her inflammatory markers were elevated. What could all of this mean for Emma's health concerns?

Research and interest in identifying the root causes of mental health issues have been growing. Numerous studies have shown that chronic low-grade inflammation and insulin insensitivity are often associated with anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders.[1,2] These conditions can contribute to neurodegeneration and negatively impact brain energy metabolism.[2]

For Emma, her iron deficiency anemia had caused chronic low-grade inflammation in her body. This, in turn, led to insulin insensitivity and dysfunction in glucose control. The state of chronic inflammation and hormonal dysregulation manifested as anxiety, panic, weight loss resistance, and brain fog. Her treatment focused on correcting the iron deficiency, reducing inflammation, and improving insulin sensitivity.

Remarkably, within just one month of targeted treatment, Emma noticed a 50% improvement in her symptoms. This newfound relief gave her the ability to make other important decisions, such as implementing dietary and lifestyle changes, and seeking counseling.

If you've ever wondered whether there are deeper causes behind your mental health concerns that extend beyond dysfunctional coping mechanisms, it may be worth considering a consultation with Dr. Ni Li.


  1. Michopoulos V, Powers A, Gillespie CF, Ressler KJ, Jovanovic T. Inflammation in Fear- and Anxiety-Based Disorders: PTSD, GAD, and Beyond. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2017;42(1):254-270. doi:10.1038/npp.2016.146

  2. Leonard BE, Wegener G. Inflammation, insulin resistance and neuroprogression in depression. Acta Neuropsychiatr. 2020;32(1):1-9. doi:10.1017/neu.2019.17


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