This was a very comprehensive seminar and a real eye opener. Below are some of the main points I wanted to share. I recommend anyone interested in a more holistic approach to mental health going to Kelly’s website or buying her new book ‘A Mind of Your Own’.
What is depression?
Depression is a number one cause of disability worldwide. More and more people are medicated, including teenagers and even toddlers, yet more people are disabled than ever before.
Conventionally, depression is seen as a disease and often the only treatment that is offered is medication. As there isn’t any research showing depression is heritable, explaining its discrete aetiology, or known mechanisms by which the medications act, some experts question this approach. Moreover, the catecholamine hypothesis (linking affective disorders to serotonin levels), which lies at the basis of the widely accepted conventional treatment, has never been backed up by supporting evidence.
“There is no direct evidence of serotonin or norepinephrine deficiency despite thousands of studies that have attempted to validate this notion.”
Source: Nat Rev Neurosci. 2005 Mar;6(3):241-6
Does the medication work?
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) often prescribed by the doctors have, according to Kelly, a short term chemical effect on the body. She has compared this effect to the effect of alcohol, which can help for example in cases of social phobia. This of course doesn’t mean we can suffer from alcohol deficiency. The same, the positive effects of SSRIs don’t prove that the medication really works and addresses the real cause of the ‘disease’. Research also shows that as high as 75% of the response was contributed to the placebo. Although placebo effect should, in my opinion, be rather embraced this is not the case if we consider possible side effects and risks of the medication like increased impulsive violence against self or others. According to dr. Kelly, they rather create an imbalance, worsen the illness, and are addictive causing withdrawal symptoms. There is also no one study suggesting that long-term usage leads to better outcomes than no medication.
“Unfortunately, in the balance between benefits and risks, it is an uncomfortable truth that most drugs do not work in most patients.”
~ Fiona Godlee Editor, British Medical Journal
What really is depression?
Depression is not a disease, but rather a symptom. There are several health problems shown to produce symptoms of depression including gut dysbiosis, blood sugar dysregulation, gluten intolerance, hormonal imbalances, hypothyroidism, deficiencies of neurotransmitter precursors and cofactors, while inflammation is often a common driver. From the evolutionary point of view, it seems like symptoms of depression were adaptive -helping us to solve problems, fight infections or environmental threats by isolation, eating less, rest etc.
Is there a treatment?
There is no one treatment fits all as the underlying cause can be different for different people. Our bio individuality also plays a role. There are some basic interventions though everyone can try before going the conventional route. Working with a skilled professional can also help to adjust the protocol to one’s individual needs.
Dr Kelly pointed out several, important aspects she addresses with all new patients.
- 1-month dietary intervention
- Personal care products
- Home care products
- Personal detox
From her clinical experience, her clients achieve best results if they do incorporate dietary and lifestyle changes at the same time. Although it seems like a big undertaking, she does appreciate possible limitations and often busy schedules and makes it as easy and accessible as possible. It may significantly change quality of life, and it’s safe!
Kelly Brogan is board certified in Integrative Holistic Medicine, Psychosomatic Medicine/ Consultation Psychiatry, and Psychiatry. You can find more information about her journey and approach here.