As someone who has struggled with depression and SAD for most of my life, I am always seeking out holistic ways to manage my hormones, mental strength and overall body systems in kinder ways.
The feelings and thoughts I have are real, and yet I continue to see improvements as I focus on balancing hormones, lifestyle and diet. As I heal my stomach, I’ve noticed considerable leaps in my mental and overall health, and have consistently seen my low dips lessen.
As I read "A Mind of Your Own: The Truth About Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives" by Kelly Brogan, MD, I was overcome with excitement, awe and hope. I also could hear the chorus of critics touting how antidepressants and psychiatric drugs have helped them and given them their lives back. In writing this, I in no way condemn those people, and do believe Western Medicine has many good aspects to it, but I do feel the science Brogan cites throughout these pages has me looking at these drugs in a very different — and more skeptical way.
This is packed with such wonderful information; I would encourage anyone interested in it to purchase it. For now, here are some of the top items that have stuck with me:
1. Depression is not a disease or disorder — it’s a symptom.
Brogan writes: “Depression can result from bodily imbalance rather than brain chemical imbalance. (p. 11) … But the reasons they can’t find a solution is because nobody has asked why. Why are they unwell? Why are their bodies creating symptoms that manifest as depression? Why didn’t they stop to ask this important and obvious question the first time they experienced a flat mood, anxiety, insomnia, and chronic exhaustion?” (p. 12)
2. Many mental health medicinal treatments for depression are not effective, and people recover more quickly on their own without substances.
A 2011 British Medical Journal performed a general analysis on 2, 500 common medical treatments aiming to determine which are supported by reliable evidence. They found that overall you have a 36% chance of receiving a “scientifically proven beneficial or likely beneficial” treatment (p. 18)
Dr. Paul Andrews and his colleagues found that: ‘ Un-medicated patients have much shorter episodes, and better long-term prospects, than medicated patients … The average duration of an untreated episode of major depression is 12-14 weeks.’”
3. Family doctors, and not psychiatrists give most prescriptions for antidepressants.
Brogan writes: "7% of all visits to a primary-care doctor end with an antidepressant prescription. And almost three-quarters of the prescriptions are written without a specific diagnosis.” (p. 21)
4. Depression is epigenetic, not genetic.
Brogan writes: “We are not just puppets at the mercy of our encoded DNA, but rather products of the complex interactions between our genes and our environment. And it’s now well established that our health outcomes are dominated more by our environment than our inheritance.” (p. 37-38)
5. The number of illnesses that can be treated by antidepressants listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual has grown from 106 in 1952 to 374 today. (p. 43)
6. From 1998 to 2008 the use of antidepressants has increased almost 400% (p. 42)
7. The top “gut bombs that drive inflammation” are gluten, dairy, GMOs, artificial sugars, antibiotics, NSAIDS and Proton-Pump Inhibitors (acid reflux drugs). (p. 88-94)
8. The top adrenal offenders are birth control pills, gluten, fluoride, and endocrine disruptors like fragrances and vaccines. (p. 103-04)
9. Although Tylenol is widely considered safe to take during pregnancy, new studies from Norway and Denmark have found acetaminophen to effect neurodevelopment, motor communication, and behavioral parameters in children whose mother’s consumed acetaminophen during pregnancy. The children were also more likely to be medicated for ADHD by age 7. (p. 128)
10. A 2015 study found that NSAIDS (Advil, Ibuprofen, Naxproxen, Motrin, Aleve, etc.) inhibit ovulation after ten days, and caution women that they may have a harmful effect on fertility. (p. 129)
11. There are ways to heal depression through whole-body and lifestyle approaches by eliminating processed foods, eating whole foods, consuming probiotics, and eating mindfully.
12. Other lifestyle areas to be aware of are sleep, meditation benefits, detoxing each area of your home and water systems, being aware of cell phone use, consuming supplements and getting a base of testing done.
In the last portion of the book, Brogan fleshes out #11 and #12 in my list. She also has a very accessible 30-Day Plan of Action complete with recipes to help anyone get started.
I think this will be a book that vastly changes the way we think about, and treat depression — and another leap towards empowering people to take their health into a full-body and lifestyle experience.