How to Heal Depression, Anxiety, and Bipolar Disorder

I remember when I was first diagnosed with all my mental illness labels, and how I was told I would struggle for the rest of my life. I felt isolated and insecure, believing I was the only person to struggle from something as heavy-sounding as “manic-depressive illness.”

Today, with mental illness labels becoming ubiquitous features to our modern society, we are becoming more accepting that mental health is something we need to support. But to heal? To reverse symptoms? THAT sounds like a foreign concept.

Survivors exist. Those of us who have gone through the labeling, the medicating, and the treatment and have come out on the other side with new tools that work long-term… we exist too. That is why I was so excited to invite fellow survivor Dr. Christina Bjorndal on the show.

Dr. Christina Bjorndal, ND is an authority in the treatment of mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders and eating disorders.  Having overcome many mental health challenges, Dr. Chris is recognized as one of the top NDs to follow by two independent organizations. Dr. Chris has helped many patients achieve physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. She has written four books on mental health as well as created two courses – a 10-week course for individuals and a Clinician’s Integrative Mental Health 10 week course.

Download this episode here or find wherever you get podcasts.

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Real Talk About Trauma

For most of my life, I didn’t view my trauma as Trauma. Yes, I was diagnosed with PTSD; yes, I dissociated; yes, I struggled with nervous system dysregulation… but I minimized my trauma.

It was just one thing that happened to me on one day when I was a child. It wasn’t ongoing. There are people who experience much worse than me.

When I minimized the trauma, I minimized the effects.

Everyone dissociates once in awhile, right? It’s not uncommon to view yourself outside of yourself when you look back on memories, right? Everyone has episodes of depression during April, right? We all are just waiting for the next big tragedy, right? None of that really MEANS anything.

That’s what I believed.

Add to that thought pattern all the ways we talk about trauma: we use phrases like big T, little t… say things like, “real trauma is only seen in war veterans…” or “trauma is just part of life.”

I minimized my trauma, and I minimized the effects, over and over again.

In high school I wrote an essay about the unique scents of each season and the memories attached (it actually became a finalist in a state writing competition, you know I have to throw that in there). In this essay, I described how the scents of spring felt sad to me because they reminded me of my grandpa’s traumatic death on my front lawn. Even when I wrote the words at the age of 17, I didn’t understand the effects of that trauma the way I do now.

Now I understand that because of that trauma, I dissociated often. I stared off into space randomly, sometimes in the middle of engaging conversations. In the early aftermath of the trauma, I was frequently sick with stomachaches and infections, namely tonsillitis and bronchitis. When an emergency situation arose, I froze, and watched everything that happened outside of my body until I felt safe to return to it.

None of this was intentional, and that is important to understand when we are talking about trauma. These responses were the ways that my brain protected me from a repeat injury. These were signals from my brain to my body, so that my body could go on alert and keep me safe in the way it was designed to.

We all, at some point in our lives, will experience trauma. It may not impact your brain and body the way it impacted me. But it will happen, and it will impact you, if it hasn’t already.

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This Is Your Child’s Brain on Processed Food

This is a tough conversation, but it is important to be aware of the way our kids’ nutrition impacts mood, concentration, focus, and overall health. Nutrition plays a direct role in neurotransmitter function, so we can’t have an honest conversation about kids’ mental health without addressing nutrition!

Dr. Joan Ifland, PhD, MBA, FACN, is a Nutrition Researcher & Processed Food Addiction Counselor. Dr. Ifland is a Fellow of the American College of Nutrition and she holds her PhD in Addictive Nutrition. She has 20 years’ experience in the field of food addiction and recovery. The Founder of Food Addiction Reset, Dr. Ifland is a leading expert in the field, author of the textbook on the topic. Processed food marketed to children has a powerful impact on their brain function with long-term consequences.

Download this episode here or find wherever you get podcasts.

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Limiting Beliefs That Impact Your Eating Habits

Brittany Braswell is a Registered Dietitian who runs a private recovery coaching practice helping Christian women ditch food rules and negative body image so they finally get off the dieting hamster wheel and experience true and lasting freedom in Christ. She has been featured as a guest expert on podcasts, at virtual summits, in blogs, and at universities. She is the creator of two exclusive courses — one on improving body image, and another on recovering from disordered eating on her website here, both of which serve women using a Christ-centered approach.

In this episode, we tackle the tough topic of how our disordered relationship with food can often reflect a disordered view of ourselves and our purpose. Download here or find wherever you get podcasts.

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What to Do When Psych Meds Aren’t Working

More people are prescribed psychiatric medication than ever before, so why are we seeing mental health issues continue to climb? How can we support our loved ones when the traditional treatments aren’t working for them?

Dr. Julia Britz specializes in supporting people who are struggling with mental health issues such as OCD, disorders eating and psychiatric medication tapering. Her passion for working with individuals suffering from these lonely conditions is that she too was a “hopeless case”, but got better. Dismissed by doctors, she was told over and over there was nothing else she could try beyond pharmacotherapy, and so was inspired to create myocddiary.com, a site dedicated to documenting the daily life of OCD and related disorders. Through this project and holistic therapies, she found new levels of wellness, and in 2014 did a TED talk called “MyOCDdiary: an imperfect story.”  

She utilizes natural and integrative modalities including targeted amino acid therapy, peptide therapy, micronutrient therapy, bioresonance, botanical medicine and epigenetic analysis, many of which are discussed in this episode.

Download this episode here or find wherever you get podcasts.

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Brain Hack: Have Something to Look Forward To

Joy is the antidote to stress. While stress shuts us down and sends negative signals to our HPA axis, joy opens us up and helps us to rest and digest. So often we get stuck in the same way of doing things, the work-eat-sleep repeat schedule, that we don’t make time for fun and joy!

Even though our brain is wired to focus on the negative, having something to look forward to is a tool that can help our brain focus on the positive. I do this with my youngest child on the way to school every day, because he’s slow to get moving and always says he doesn’t want to go, even though he always ends up liking it. In the car on the way there, I say, “It’s going to be a great day today. Can you think of three things that will make today great?” One day, he was excited about taking his Avengers backpack to school. Another day it’s because we were going swimming right after. It’s usually pretty random, but his answers often inspire me to look beyond what I would normally say as well.

I think this is why I put so many books on hold at the public library. Do you know how much excitement I get when I receive an email that says that the book I had on hold is available? (And even better that it’s free!) We do the same thing with online shopping orders and deliveries. I love to make plans to eat out at a fun restaurant with my family on the weekend, or even plans to pick up takeout. It gives me anticipation that feels good.

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The Surprising Secret to Health and Longevity

Being able to fight against oxidative stress and damage is crucial for our whole body health. When our body can fight free radicals with antioxidant support, we are healthier and have greater chances of being disease-free. Some studies even show oxidative stress being linked to brain issues like bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression.

Chris Burres is the owner of SES Research, the first company to deliver carbon nano materials, and MyVitalC, the world’s first nano antioxidant.

When Chris realized a Nobel Prize-Winning chemical tested by NASA had been proven to almost double the lifespan of mammals, he decided to make ESS60 into a household item. He’s now on a mission to help people live longer, healthier and pain-free lives one dose at a time.

Listen to this powerful episode here or find wherever you get podcasts!

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Why You Need More Protein for Your Mental Health

In light of the new research being published on mental health, this episode is important! Our brains need key nutrients to function, and if we want to support the root cause of brain balance, we need to be aware of what nutrients we need. Because protein is crucial for building our neurotransmitters, it takes the primary focus in this podcast episode.

Christina T. Veselak, MS, CN, LMFT, is the founder and director of the Academy for Addiction and Mental Health Nutrition which teaches practitioners around the world how to use diet, along with amino acid and nutrient therapy to help prevent cravings and recurrent use by restoring neurotransmitter function and keeping blood sugar in balance. She has been a licensed psychotherapist working in the SUD treatment field since 1985 and a certified nutritionist specializing in mental health and addiction recovery since 1993.

Download and listen to this episode here or find wherever you get podcasts.

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New Research on the Serotonin Theory of Depression – My Takeaways

The serotonin theory of depression has been extremely pervasive in how we discuss mental health, though no comprehensive review has ever fully broken down the relevant evidence. 

At first glance, the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) method of keeping serotonin in our synapses longer is pretty revolutionary.

But that’s assuming that an issue with serotonin at the brain level is what is causing depression.

Unfortunately, current research is showing that depression and mood issues are not simply related to serotonin alone. There are MANY other factors at play, chronic inflammation being a key role, along with other epigenetic drivers.

While over 77 million Americans are prescribed psychotropic drugs in the US (which is a number greater than any other developed country), with 45 million on antidepressants, we still have climbing rates of depression and anxiety, and prescriptions are being written for children as young as two. 

A new systematic review and meta-analysis, published this week in Molecular Psychiatry, suggests that depression isn’t a chemical imbalance of serotonin or really anything to do with low serotonin at all.

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How to Make Sure You’re Getting the Best Sleep

More and more Americans struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep on a consistent basis. We need all the practical tools and tips to support healthy sleep, and that’s what this episode is all about!

Dr. Sanam Hafeez is a neuropsychologist in New York City. She is also faculty at Columbia University. Her website Comprehend the Mind is here.

Dr. Hafeez has been a trusted and recurring expert across media channels for top outlets such as The Wallstreet Journal, The Washington Post, HuffPost, The New York Times, Bustle, Elite Daily, Refinery29, Prevention, Health, Healthline and on TV for such shows and news as Dr. Oz, The Doctors, CNN, CBS NY Weekend News, and FOX.

Download this episode here or find wherever you get podcasts!

Key Topics: –

  • Why 40-50% of Americans are struggling with sleep, more so than ever before
  • What is circadian rhythm and why it matters
  • How sleep impacts mental health and replenishes the brain
  • How anxiety starts at night
  • The ritual to have to prepare for sleep
  • Tips to try to support better sleep
  • The best way to calm an anxious brain at bedtime
  • How parents can use kids’ bedtime to take time to develop their own sleep hygiene

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