Holy Hormones Journal: How familiar does this sound? I cannot tell you how many hundreds of women who have posted and commented on articles on my blog who have fallen into the same hormone-related ‘postpartum journey into the world of psychiatry’. Thanks to Dr. Kelly Brogan ‘The Renegade Psychiatrist’ for bringing this woman’s story to our attention. ‘Women do deserve better – people deserve better.
If you are still skeptical, another article also appeared within the last week entitled: Gut feelings: the future of psychiatry may be inside your stomach.
This article is also about the journey of yet another suffering young woman and her parents who were trying to find help for their daughter
Her parents were running out of hope. Their teenage daughter, Mary, had been diagnosed with a severe case of obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), as well as ADHD. They had dragged her to clinics around the country in an effort to thwart the scary, intrusive thoughts and the repetitive behaviors that Mary felt compelled to perform. Even a litany of psychotropic medications didn’t make much difference. It seemed like nothing could stop the relentless nature of Mary’s disorder.
Their last hope for Mary was Boston-area psychiatrist James Greenblatt. Arriving at his office in Waltham, MA, her parents had only one request: help us help Mary.
Greenblatt started by posing the usual questions about Mary’s background, her childhood, and the onset of her illness. But then he asked a question that no psychiatrist ever had: How was Mary’s gut? Did she suffer digestive upset? Constipation or diarrhea? Acid reflux? Had Mary’s digestion seemed to change at all before or during her illness? Her parents looked at each other. The answer to many of the doctor’s questions was, indeed, “Yes.”
Think of how many women and men have been led down a road with no end… how much suffering… when all we needed to do is listen to our bodies… observe what we eat; re-evaluate our lifestyles… and learn how to keep inflammation levels in the body at a minimum. And we need to make sure we have all of the adequate nutrition we need. Going into a pregnancy – as well as afterwards. A lack of Vitamin D3 is a major player in depression and anxiety. Broad spectrum micronutrients – especially minerals are crucial to our health. We can no longer get these sources from our foods. We now know that inflammation begins with mood disorders – and if left unchecked can lead to cancer.
Confessions of a Renegade Psychiatrist
Sunday, August 25th 2013 at 5:45 am
Written By: Dr. Kelly Brogan, M.D.
I felt this sensation in the pit of my stomach – it was a combination of sympathy and anger – listening to Annie tell me, through tears, about her postpartum journey into the world of psychiatry.
Three separate psychiatrists dismissed me when I expressed concerns about taking an addictive medication like Klonopin. It’s been two years, I can’t get off it, I’m on 4 psych meds and I feel worse than I ever did before I started this treatment.
Annie was ushered into the promise-filled halls of psychiatry 3 months after the birth of her first baby when she began to experience racing heart, insomnia, vigilance, irritability, and a host of physical complaints including joint pain and hair loss. No one did bloodwork, asked about her diet, or cared about any of the myriad observations about her body and its changes in functioning. This was a “head-up” intervention. I believe women deserve better. People deserve better.
Most patients who come to me for treatment of depression and anxiety do so because they want answers. They want to know WHY they are struggling. The closest they will be offered by their prescribing psychiatrist or primary care doc is some reductionist hand waving about serotonin imbalances. I think it is time to speak to these patients with respect, truthfulness, and to offer them more than a life-long relationship with a pill (or pills as it will inevitably become over the years). First, let’s review some basics:
Depression is Not A Serotonin Deficiency
Thanks to direct-to-consumer advertising and complicit FDA endorsement of evidence-less claims, the public has been sold an insultingly oversimplified tale about the underlying driver of depression. Here’s how we know depression is not a serotonin deficiency corrected by Zoloft:
- There has never been a single study, in humans, to validate the theory of low serotonin in depression. Low levels are found in a minority of patients.
- An antidepressant marketed as Stablon, increases reuptake of serotonin (reducing serotonin activity) and appears to be equally effective as those that decrease it or have no effect on it at all.
- Manipulation of serotonin levels (depletion or enhancement) do not consistently result in a depressive syndrome.
- These medications are used to treat an impossibly non-specific and broad array of illnesses from obsessive compulsive disorder to anorexia to premenstrual dysphoria to bipolar depression to irritable bowel syndrome.
- Antidepressants of all categories seems to work about the same regardless of their presumed mechanism of action with about 73% of the response unrelated to pharmacologic activity.