Do you often feel out of it? Depressed, isolated and like you don’t fit? Well, the ‘two-left feet cell syndrome’ may be at the epicenter of your depression. Research is showing that in some depressed persons, their cellular timing is way off.

Every one of our trillions of cells has an internal clock. They don’t wear watches but they are aware of this critical metronome. Our cells are supposed to be fundamentally wired to dark and light. A healthy circadian rhythmicity is part of feeling truly well on all levels, body, mind and spirit. This being in sync with light and dark enables us to feel ‘up’ during the day, and to have a restorative sleep at night.

Part of this rhythm is a dance between the brain as the major timekeeper, with all cells ticking or keeping in sync with this beat, especially cells within the brain.

Now research shows that in people with depression, this clock can be broken. Not just bent like a Dali clock, but broken like a shard.

Researchers at my alma mater, the University of Michigan Medical School, ran an amazing experiment. They sifted through multitudes of brains donated from depressed and non-depressed people and found the exact genes that dictate these internal cellular clocks. They so accurately described them, that in non-depressed people they could accurately identify the exact time of their death. But in depressed people they couldn’t. Their timing was off.

In healthy non-depressed people, genes that regulate 24-hour cycles function with astute regularity. But in depressed people these timing genes were not synchronized to the usual solar day and night. Their genes and cells, instead, were acting like they were living in a different time zone than the one they actually lived (and in this case, died) in. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2013

In nutritional integrative medicine, the adrenal gland gets, unlike Rodney Dangerfield, lots of respect. It is appreciated that the communication between parts of the brain with the adrenal glands and other sex hormones has a lot do to with being in sync with light and dark and enjoying optimal health.

Getting adrenal function tested with 24-hour urine or saliva tests, not just one-spot blood tests, often shows how out of sync adrenal functioning can be. And using foods, nutrients and possibly adrenal hormone replacement, as well as identifying friendly and unfriendly foods and shoring up sleep, can go a long way to rebooting our harmony with light and dark.

This study highlighted once again the importance of working with practitioners that take your fatigue and insomnia seriously and try to heal them at the root level, not just by giving medication.