I have depression and anxiety that I have been struggling with for a long time. What is your approach like?
First, I gather a lot of information about you and your health concerns. This is done by you filling out my intake form (it’s long...but very helpful in us getting the most out of our first appointment together!), and by me taking an in-depth history during our first appointment. Holistic and preventative healthcare is enhanced dramatically when the practitioner has a complete picture of the patient physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, so I try my best to be thorough.
Next, my initial treatment plans often focus on “laying the foundations” of good health. This involves making sure that your “pillars of health” (nutrition, exercise, stress reduction and sleep) are all optimized so that your body has everything it needs to heal and function properly.
Finally, I will add in more “potent” treatments that are tailored to your needs - these are often things like herbal medicines, pharmaceutical-grade supplements, therapeutic diets or lifestyle interventions that address your most problematic symptoms specifically. For those with mental health concerns, treatments often focus around making sure that your body has the biochemicals (building blocks) that it needs to make the neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) that regulate your mood. I also always recommend that if you are not already seeing a therapist, that you start seeing one.
I work with patients collaboratively so that their treatment plans are as effective as possible, while still being “do-able” for their lifestyles and budgets. We are always looking for the root cause of your concerns so that treatments can address your specific healthcare needs.
I’m on a mental health medication. What do you think about that? Can I still work with you?
I frequently see people having a lot of shame around being on mental health medications (antidepressants, anxiolytics, mood stabilizers, etc.). I think especially because I work in natural healthcare, people are nervous that I’m going to scold them for not doing things “naturally” or for needing to take “chemicals,” however this is not the case!
First of all, somewhere around 1 in 6 Americans take psych meds, so if you are on one, you’re definitely not alone. Second, much like fingerprints, everyone’s brain chemistry is a little different. Some people need the support of medication to live happy and fruitful lives. Third, for some, mental health meds can literally save lives.
My personal goal for working with people with mental health concerns is to get them into remission. Sometimes that involves taking a medication, and sometimes it does not. I’m satisfied so long as we are able to come up with a treatment plan that lets you enjoy your life to the fullest and also be healthy and safe.
It is also important to know that naturopathic doctors are trained extensively in drug-herb and drug-nutrient interactions to avoid any potential negative side effects. It is helpful to always keep your doctor fully informed of all medications, supplements and herbs that you are taking, and to not start a new medication or supplement without contacting your doctor.
This COVID-19 pandemic has been really difficult on my mental health. Any tips?
I love the CDC’s recommendations for Being Kind to Your Mind. There is a ton of info on their website, but here are the top 5 tips in a nutshell:
- PAUSE. Breathe. Notice how you feel
- TAKE BREAKS from COVID-19 content
- MAKE TIME to sleep and exercise
- REACH OUT and stay connected
- SEEK HELP if overwhelmed or unsafe
I especially want to highlight #2 - it’s important to stay up to date on news so that you can continue to act safely and do the right thing from a public health perspective, BUT is spending an hour everyday on the Department of Health’s website, scrolling through Facebook posts about COVID-19, listening to daily podcasts about COVID-19 and the like really going to change your day-to-day behaviors? I’d hope that you are already doing good things like washing your hands frequently and properly, abiding by stay-at-home orders and respecting social distancing. Do yourself a favor and limit your news intake to 5 minutes per day or to what you need to read for your work and then LOG OFF.
I have a newly diagnosed mental health condition. Do you have any good resources for where I can learn more? WebMD isn’t cutting it...
NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is an awesome organization that has chapters in every state. Their website has a ton of free education and resources for people with mental illness, and they do a lot to fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for policies that support people with mental illness and their families.
If you are struggling with a mental health concern big or small, please reach out. I am here to support you as are all the other practitioners at Wellness Minneapolis!