By Dr. Shawna Darou, ND
I had been looking forward to this book since discovering Dr. Kelly Brogan’s approach to integrative psychiatry through her many interviews and her writing. She is a highly educated psychiatrist who has a degree in cognitive neuro-science from MIT, an MD degree from Weill Cornell Medical College and clinical training from the NYU School of Medicine. What I really love about her approach is that she promotes a paradigm shift: The best way to heal the mind is to heal the whole body.
Perhaps the most important statement in the book is:
“Depression is merely a symptom, a sign that something is off balance or ill in the body that needs to be remedied.”
I know for example, that women who experience hormone imbalance, thyroid disorder, adrenal fatigue, nutrient deficiency from iron or vitamin B12, blood sugar imbalance, pain and inflammation from migraines or endometriosis and more, will often experience depression as one of their symptoms, and that by treating the underlying issue, their depression will also improve.
This is a pressing issue: Antidepressant use is enormously widespread, with as many as one in four women in their forties and fifties taking them. The alarming news about these medications, is that in the long-term they can actually worsen your mental health.
“Despite what you’ve been led to believe, antidepressants have repeatedly been shown in long-term scientific studies to worsen the course of mental illness –to say nothing of the risks of liver damage, abnormal bleeding, weight gain, sexual dysfunction, and reduced cognitive function that they entail. The dirtiest little secret of all is the fact that antidepressants are among the most difficult drugs to taper from, more so than alcohol and opiates. While you might call it “going through withdrawal,” we medical professionals have been instructed by Big Pharma to call it “discontinuation syndrome,” which is characterized by fiercely debilitating physical and psychological reactions.”
The book begins with discussion about depression, how dealing with only serotonin is not the answer, and that depression is often triggered by blood sugar issues and nutritional deficiencies due to poor nutrition; underactive thyroid function; and medications such as birth control pills, proton-pump inhibitors for acid reflux, and statins. New theories regarding depression now focus on inflammation – where a chronic inflammatory state in the body causes changes in cytokines, which can then trigger depression.
What are causes of inflammation:
- Imbalance in intestinal ecology
- Leaky gut syndrome
- Inflammation from foods such as gluten, dairy, corn, soy, sugar and GMO’s
- Medications – NSAID’s (Advil, Celebrex, Naproxen and more) and Proton-Pump Inhibitors (acid reflux medications).
Dr. Brogan lays out in detail a 30 day treatment plan for depression, which includes the following:
- LAB TESTING TO REQUEST: getting to the root of the causes of depression by testing thyroid function, markers of inflammation, vitamin B12 levels, MTHFR gene, salivary cortisol levels, vitamin D level and markers of blood sugar imbalance.
- NUTRITION: eliminating all processed foods, as well as gluten, dairy, sugar, corn and soy, along with emphasizing healthy fats and steady protein intake.
- DETOXIFICATION: reducing exposure to toxins in your home, and gentle detox strategies such as dry skin brushing.
- DAILY MEDITATION PRACTICE: a daily practice to turn on your body’s natural relaxation response.
- MOVEMENT AND SLEEP: beginning a regular workout program and prioritizing sleep.
I highly recommend reading “A Mind of Your Own” if you have been struggling with depression, or have been on antidepressant medications. There are solutions to your depression that do make sense – it is all about looking at your overall body health and wellbeing. This book has certainly impacted my approach to working with depression in my practice, and I hope to share these tools with you soon.