I received a reviewer's copy of A Mind Of Your Own: What Women Can Do About Depression That Big Pharma Can't by Kelly Brogan, MD, a holistic Psychiatrist and I could't put it down. I read this fascinating book cover to cover with such interest that I highlighted and took notes on every other page. If you suffer or know someone who suffers from depression, I highly recommend this ground breaking, controversial, and an eye-opening book. In fact, I wouldn't be offended if you skipped my review and went straight to buy a copy (Amazon Affil) to educate yourself on what's been done in the past to "treat" depression - but didn't work - and learn what you can do holistically for depression without using drugs.
I don't know how to review her book without giving away the content but here are some key points I agree with Brogan. This is a long one. Grab a cup of herbal tea.
In 2015, 30 million Americans were prescribed $12 billion of antidepressnats.
The most troubling concept about depression is how it's (mis)diagnosed. I have a B.A. in Psychology and Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree so I studied diagnostic methods extensively. As a holistic physician, I examined patients' whole system thoroughly with diagnostic tools and musculoskeletal and neurological tests to determine what their problems are. If results were inconclusive or needed further testing, the patients were sent out for additional tests. But when I studied Psychology, I learned that objective diagnostic tools were unavailable.
As Brogan points out in her book, psychiatry is based on "highly subjective diagnostic system." There are no blood tests, or urine tests. You can't measure patient's feelings using an instrument, the way a sphygmomanometer measures blood pressure. The only diagnostic tools Psychologists or Psychiatrists use are patient's words, doctor's observations and subjective opinions. That, to me, is not very objective or scientific. This could, and often does, lead to many misdiagnoses and bad treatment plans, which frequently lead to overuse or mis-use of chemicals, often causing long term use and/or overdoses with detrimental side effects. What's worse, withdrawals from psychotic drugs can be very difficult and can cause serious injuries, sometimes, irreversible damages to the brain. So once you're on the psychotropic drugs, it's very hard to quit. And yet - and this is scary - according to Brogan, one in seven women are being medicated for depression, 1 in 4 women in their forties and fifties use psychiatric drugs. Why? Because psychiatric drug industry is a multi billion dollar industry.
1 in 7 women are being medicated for depression and 1 in 4 women in their forties and fifties use psychiatric drugs.
So how does Brogan diagnose her patients objectively so she can treat them accordingly without drugs?
Dr. Brogan's Diagnosis and Treatment for Depression
Brogan's education and training is based on traditional drug/big pharma (read her credentials below) model. But she realized how wrong that approach was and began treating her patients looking at the whole body system and not just chemicals (imbalance) in the brain.
According to Brogan, when a patient presents to her office, she doesn't put them on a couch and listens to their problems endlessly nor does she take out a prescription pad, prescribe drugs and send them on their merry way. Instead, she takes a detailed medical history, including birth history, whether they were delivered c-section or naturally, were they breast fed or formula fed, and their vaccine history. She also orders blood tests and lab work to obtain a complete biological picture. Obviously, the patients discuss their present day ailments and illnesses that might shed some lights on current health issues that may cause depression.
Since lab results most often reveal inflammation, gut dysbiosis, blood sugar irregularity (Diabetes), hormonal imbalance (thyroid and reproductive), and immune system related issues, Brogan's holistic approach gives her a broader and yet, pinpoint result as to what cause her patients' depression. After finding out the cause, she advises her patients on proper diet, lifestyle modifications, supplements, and hormonal supplements so that they can have a new lease on life without supporting the crooked big pharma industry.
Needless to say, her non-allopathic and science backed approach to "treat" depression without drugs can be viewed as radical. Not surprisingly, she received less than a warm welcome from the mainstream media. In fact, none of the mainstream media asked her to be interviewed when her book was published. Drugs companies spend 2.4 BILLION dollars a year in ads and media companies need their money. Simple as that, I suppose.
But with no help from mass media, the book made the Top Ten New York Times Bestseller list! And Best Seller (Amazon Affil) on Amazon under Depression, probably due to her Grassroots Effort to being awareness to her book.
Depression if often an inflammation driven condition, not a neurochemical deficiency disease.
A Mind of Your Own: Treating Depression Without Drugs
Let me describe who Brogan is so you don't think she's some charlatan who pissed off some drug executives, although, she will have by now with this wildly popular published book. Dr. Brogan is a holistic women’s health psychiatrist, author of A Mind of Your Own and co-editor of the landmark textbook, Integrative Therapies for Depression. She completed her psychiatric training and fellowship at NYU Medical Center after graduating from Cornell University Medical College, and has a B.S. from MIT in Systems Neuroscience. She is board certified in psychiatry, psychosomatic medicine, and integrative holistic medicine, and is specialized in a root-cause resolution approach to psychiatric syndromes and symptoms. Brogan has written numerous research papers in topics ranging from Women and Anxiety Disorders: Implications for Diagnosis and Treatment to Microbiome in Mental Health to Fire in the Mind; Inflammation-Depression Connection. You can see the full list here.
So you see, she is a well qualified professional who is more than intelligent and experienced to determine what the root of the cause for depression is, based on years of research and treating countless patients in her practice. She admits she's not a "conspiracy theorist" but a "natural skeptic and pragmatist" who believes "symptoms of mental illness are not entirely a psychological problems, nor are they purely a neurochemical issue". She states that there has not been a single study that proved "that depression is caused by a 'chemical imbalance' in the brain."
[Tweet "Depression can result from bodily imbalance rather than brain chemical imbalance #AMindOfYourOwn"]
Whoa. Hold on for a minute. That's not what anti-depressant commercials, like Prozac, Abilify, Zoloft and alike, say about depression! They clearly imply the notion that depression is caused by chemical imbalance in the brain and that you need their little pills to 'balance' it out. In fact, in some cases, you need more than one pill!
Those ads were pretty convincing. But the factor most people don't get in those ads are that the side effects disclosure is LONGER than what it supposedly fixes, including aggression, violence, and suicidal thoughts! What? You're taking anti-depressants to prevent you from suicidal thoughts but it actually can cause you to have aggression and suicidal thoughts? Many of the recent senseless shootings by those who were on psychiatric drugs come to mind. So how does that make sense?
Not only that, a large research conducted by a Harvard psychologist and researcher Dr. Irving Kirsch revealed that,
...placebo duplicated 75 percent of the drug's effect, that non-anti-depressant medications had the same effect as antidepressants, and that the remaining 25 percent of the apparent drug effects was attributable to what's called "active placebo effect.
This is a startling little fact that no one talks about. But as you can imagine, this study was confronted with a huge backlash from the drug industry. So he conducted another research, and this time, he looked at unpublished studies and found that "when these unpublished studies were included, antidepressants outperformed placebo in only twenty of forty-six trials." That's almost 50%!
He conducted another study to counterchallenge his critics and concluded that,
If the antidepressant effect is largely a placebo effect, it is important that we know this. It means that improvement can be obtained without reliance on addictive drugs with potentially serious side effects.
The irony of Kirsch's findings is that the researches were underwritten and designed by the drug companies themselves! These studies were designed in a way that the results - so they thought - would give the drugs an advantage, and yet they didn't work no more than the placebos.
Depression can result from bodily imbalance rather than brain chemical imbalance
So if depression is not caused by chemical imbalance in the brain, then, what is it caused by? And if drugs don't treat depression, what treats depression?
Drugs not treating depression might sound shocking but myriad of other drugs causing depression as one of the side effects is no news. A famous acne drug Accutane, was found to cause birth defects, miscarriages, depression and even suicidal thoughts so it was discontinued for sale in 2009. I know someone who attempted suicide after being on Accutane for a few years and it forever changed his life. He didn't know Accutane may have contributed to his "lapse in judgement" but when he found out about the connection, he discontinued using Accutane.
So while big/pharma might try to convince us that depression is caused by some innate chemical imbalance in the brain, it could very well be caused by external influence, such as other drugs, or internal factors such as irregularity in sugar or hormonal levels.
With no disrespect to Brogan, her theories on depression being caused by inflammation, gut dysbiosis, hormonal imbalance and lifestyle (or traumatic events) are not new. If you remember, I interviewed Raine Irving Saunders about her experience with depression and anxiety due to Leaky Gut and how she used GAPS diet to heal herself. I've also written about how Leaky Gut causing many other illnesses and how you can heal, including depression.
As more research on the connection between the gut and mental health come to light, Brogan's successful holistic treatment protocol for depression without the use of psychiatric drugs is a clear evidence that supports those findings.
A Mind of Your Own: What Women Can Do About Depression That Big Phama Can't
Brogan's book covers detailed information on what causes depression and how to treat it holistically in two main parts.
Part 1: Truth about Depression
This section include symptoms, history, new biology of depression, conditions that may lead to depression, common environmental exposures and drugs that can lead to depression.
Part 2: Natural Treatments for Whole Body Wellness
Last half of the book covers what can be done holistically, without using drugs, to address depression. Brogan offers a 30 day plan of action with mind-body practices, detox protocols, supplementation info and even recipes that help to nourish your body that helps with your transformation. She addresses thyroid, gut dysbiosis, immune system, sugar levels, and lifestyle modifications.
My Final Thoughts...
I love how Brogan provides details of what we know about depression and debunks many of the traditional ways doctors treat this "symptom". She offers actionable plans, recipes, and has over 300 citations to support her theories.
One very important thing I have to mention is that if you are taking depression medications, YOU CAN NOT DISCONTINUE ON YOUR OWN to start Brogan's protocol. You must be under a doctor's supervision to discontinue your medicine properly so you don't experience severe withdrawal effects.
Secondly, I don't want you to think that all depression can be treated with Brogan's protocol. You have to get tested to make sure your depression is caused by a condition or illness that may contribute to your depression so you can treat the conditions appropriately after tests and lab work.
Finally, Brogan's protocol is not end all, be all. If you stepped on a nail, you have to take out the nail before putting a bandaid on it. So whether your depression is caused by trauma or non-brain related injury to your system, you need to find out what the underlying cause is before getting ANY type of treatment, drug or drug-less because,
[Tweet "Depression is not a disease. It is a symptom. @KellyBroganMD #AMindOfYourOwn"]
So find out what is causing the symptom. Don't just put a bandaid on it.
If you are still not convinced, you can read Brogan's book's first chapter for free HERE.
About Kelly Brogan, M.D.
Kelly Brogan, M.D. is a Manhattan-based holistic women’s health psychiatrist, author of the book, A Mind of Your Own and co-editor of the landmark textbook, Integrative Therapies for Depression. She completed her psychiatric training and fellowship at NYU Medical Center after graduating from Cornell University Medical College, and has a B.S. from MIT in Systems Neuroscience. She is board certified in psychiatry, psychosomatic medicine, and integrative holistic medicine, and is specialized in a root-cause resolution approach to psychiatric syndromes and symptoms. She is on the board of GreenMedInfo, Functional Medicine University, Pathways to Family Wellness, NYS Perinatal Association, and Fisher Wallace, Medical Director for Fearless Parent, and board member for Health Freedom Action and the peer-reviewed, indexed journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. She is a mother of two.