Review: A Mind of Your Own: The Truth about Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives
Jennifer Grafiada, NTP reviews A Mind of Your Own: The Truth about Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives by Kelly Brogan, MD.
Once a conventionally minded Manhattan psychiatrist doling out Prozac to harried type A’s and fueling her busy New York lifestyle with candy bars and coffee, Dr. Kelly Brogan is now a leading pioneer in the fields of holistic psychiatry and women’s mental health. Her protocols are based on mind-body work, nutrition and other forward-thinking frameworks that are quickly gaining the support of sound scientific evidence. Her success stories are in the thousands, and she frequently shares them on her social media accounts (search @kellybroganmd or #amindofyourown).
After exploring the worlds of naturopathy and nutrition (she was a protégé of the great alternative cancer doctor Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez) and the work of Dr. Robert Whitaker (Mad in America, Anatomy of an Epidemic), she gradually realized that her expensive medical education and particularly her chosen field of psychiatry was founded on erroneous assumptions. These myths and misconceptions are what she attempts to elucidate in her book A Mind of Your Own, which quickly climbed the ranks at Amazon.com and The New York Times bestseller list, despite major media networks giving it the cold shoulder.
The title echoes the famous feminist essay “A Room of One’s Own” by Virginia Woolf, which is fitting as one of Dr. Brogan’s passions is female empowerment. Dr. Brogan wants women (and men, for that matter) to take their health back into their own hands. “Stand back and appreciate the infinite complexity of your organism,” she urges. “Know that fear will only drive you to treat your body like a robotic machine that needs oil and gear changes. We are so much more than buttons and levers.”
In Part 1, The Truth about Depression, Dr. Brogan explains how the pharmaceutical companies have deliberately crafted an illusion that a simple tweak in serotonin, through attractively branded drugs with whimsical sounding names, will somehow make everything all better.
Dr. Brogan acknowledges that there are many people who maintain that a pill has helped them – even saved their lives – but she points to carefully conducted meta-analyses regarding the efficacy of antidepressants that show that any perceived benefit is likely due to a placebo effect. Their very serious side effects and ability to cause dependency and even permanently alter brain structure mean that they are likely to do more harm than good. As a testament to her conviction, she no longer prescribes any type of SSRIs in her practice. Instead, she puts her patients on a nutrition-based protocol and helps them safely taper off any drugs they may already be on.
Her protocol is outlined in the second half of the book, Natural Treatments for Whole-Body Wellness. Her recommendations will sound familiar to Nutritional Therapy Practitioners: fresh organic food, grass-fed meat and plenty of healthy fats. Gluten, dairy and processed sugar are out; Kundalini yoga sessions and coffee enemas are in. Dr. Brogan references the work of Dr. Weston A. Price and bases her protocol around the many of the same principles that NTA teaches.
Along with exchanging processed, pre-packaged foods for nutrient dense and homemade meals, Dr. Brogan recommends mind-body practices such as meditation and specific yoga poses. She stresses the importance of sleep and exercise and avoiding toxins in the home. She specifically warns against fluoride in tap water, over-the-counter pain medications, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and cosmetics that contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
While simply following her 30-day protocol will likely work wonders for many, she does suggest a few specific tests and supplements if further work is required. Depression, she notes, can be the result of several underlying issues. There could be a deficiency in Vitamin B6 (often related to birth control use) or Vitamin B12 (often related to heartburn medication). There could be widespread inflammation from a sedentary, stressful lifestyle. There could be blood sugar dysregulation or a thyroid condition, a lack of magnesium or Vitamin D.
Dr. Brogan has an online program called Vital Mind Reset for those who want to go through her protocol on their own. She also recommends working with a healthcare provider that is well-versed in nutrition (this is where we come in!) to uncover the root causes and fix them for good. (Note that NTPs cannot ever discourage anyone to discontinue medication and the primary care provider should be informed of any changes the client makes). As Dr. Brogan points out, a one-size-fits-all medical model is outdated. We need to take into account the environment, diet, the microbiome and epigenetics if we are going to make real progress that resolves the root cause.
Perhaps this is not revolutionary information to those of us in the field of Nutritional Therapy, but for many, even for those who are otherwise health-conscious, suggesting that depression can be treated without medication can sound heretical. Many believe that if these medications are not a first resort (which to the majority, they are) then they are still a viable last resort. Dr. Kelly Brogan firmly believes that, like so many “treatments” in Western medicine, they shouldn’t be offered at all.
If that sounds uncomfortable to you, I recommend reading her book and checking out her website, KellyBroganMD.com. So much of how we view and treat illness has been hijacked by a chemical-based pharmaceutical propaganda machine, with its glossy promises of quick fixes. What Dr. Brogan attempts to convey is that the answer to our ailments is more likely to be found after learning to treat ourselves well, feeding our bodies nourishing foods, our minds empowering thoughts, and recognizing how our modern world so often creates a stressful mismatch for our hunter-gatherer biology.
While the book is written primarily for women, the information is just as applicable to men. I hope that more people read this book and open their minds to this new paradigm. As Nutritional Therapy Practitioners, we are aware of the connection between the health of the body and the health of the mind. With our knowledge base, we can help our clients to regain their vibrant mood and joyful outlook. We can encourage them to take their health into their own hands and substitute the false promise of an easy fix for a journey that is much more creative, complex and exciting. After all, depression can be a normal and healthy part of the human experience, and as Dr. Brogan herself found out, sometimes a hard road can lead to a more enlightened place.
About the Author
Jennifer Grafiada, NTP, specializes in helping new mamas feel like rockstar goddesses. Find her at JenniferGrafiada.com and on Instagram @jennifergrafiada_ntp.