Healing Depression: The Myth of the Quick Fix

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Is There an Easier Version?

I stared out over the sea of beautiful women from all walks of life. It was an intimate gathering in the West Village, and we were there to talk mental health, healing depression, and personal transformation.

Heather spoke up. She had dabbled with different diets, some supplements, but ultimately, she says, always gave up feeling frustrated and even more dejected than when she started because now she had “failed” at trying to help herself. She had been on and off of antidepressants and felt, deep down, that this wasn’t the path for her. She wasn’t sure if they had helped or not but coming off of them was always “a nightmare.”

She said, “The dietary protocol you outline in A Mind of Your Own seems extreme and overwhelming. Is there an easier version?”

You already know the answer.

But, the question is natural. It is the way we've been trained to think about our health. If our bodies and minds are acting up, do whatever it takes to quickly put them in order. Get rid of those symptoms and get back to your desk. Stay afloat. Nothing to see here. Keep punching the clock. Who has time for a complicated health regimen? Oh yeah, I’ll just head out to a holistic health retreat to be fed organic grapes while lounging on a hemp, chakra-aligning mat.

The problem is that this mentality – the I don’t have time, or It’s too hard to change mentality – is exactly what is keeping you stuck.

The quick and easy fix is a really tempting concept. We keep taking the bait, neglecting our deeper awareness that it Does. Not. Exist.

I know you may be thinking – yes it does!

What about antibiotics? What about the Pill? What about Tylenol? Coffee tooootally works!

I used to live a life papered over by quick fixes. I had to learn the untold story of their hidden costs so that I could resolve the autoimmune disease I developed as a result of these quick fixes.

Even today, I’m a seriously impatient person, and I am still working with my Western medicine indoctrinated brain that says we need outcomes! Results! Improvement! Now!

In fact, I’m amazed that I ever thought antidepressants were a reasonable “fix” of any kind at all considering any psychiatrist would tell you they take 6-8 weeks to “work.”

Amazingly, I went on to learn that antidepressants don’t work the way we think they do, and they come with risks I never even considered, including impulsive violence and debilitating withdrawal. To say this shocked me as a conventionally trained psychopharmacologist, would be the understatement of the century.

Importantly, they can distract you from an opportunity to identify the real cause of your symptoms, a cause which is entirely reversible, in my experience.

That’s why I am very into the model of root-cause-resolution that I use in my practice. We need a month of serious prescription-level commitment to change. ONE MONTH.

It’s a month of your whole life! It’s a blip. The past month flew by so quickly you can barely tell me anything about it, I bet.

Don’t you deserve to understand a bit more about your relationship to food and the role it has in everything you hate about your life experience?

Stop listening to all those voices haunting you saying you can’t do it. Saying you’re not that hardcore. Saying you’re always a cheater. Saying, "This is for someone else, but not me". Stop making excuses and look boldly into the eyes of your resistance. Look at it, smile, and push on through.

The Deep Rewards of Deep Commitment

When you go all in, you do it with your heart. You believe that this is a real possibility for you – transformation in a month. You send your body, mind, and spirit a message, loud and clear. And then, it happens.

You learn through feeling the change.

Specifically, you learn what you feel like when you’re eating food stripped of the addictive push-pull so many of us struggle with like an abusive relationship we keep running back to. What if when you quit sugar, alcohol, coffee, wheat, and dairy, you aren’t the irritable, tired, forgetful person you always thought you were? Well, then you have information and you can make choices in fuller informed consent!

This type of information is called experiential knowing.

You could read this book and all the studies in it and love the idea of natural healing, but it won’t be until you show yourself that your body can heal through a healthy relationship with the natural world…it’s not until then that this journey will become yours.

I remember the day I saw my thyroid antibodies come down from the high 2000's to the normal range. I saw it in black and white. My dietary change had resulted in remission of an illness I had been taught was chronic. I did this! And you know what, after a few challenging weeks of adjustment, not only did it become easy, but I felt like a new person in life and on paper. There was no going back. It’s like moving through a birth canal and being born as the real you.

If you 80/20 this - If you get two weeks in and then realize that you’re starving at a party and, well, it’s just one slice of pizza -  If you have just that small piece of birthday cake - you're depriving yourself of the experiential knowing and the clear signal that comes with it.

The worst part is that then you could be left in purgatory.

If conventional medicine has failed you and you complete your month of half-hearted effort, you may be left doubting the power of nutrition to heal. Then what? You could be a patient without a philosophical home! You could have missed your opportunity to take charge of your experience of health.

Heal Your Body, Reclaim Your Life

The diet I discuss should taste and feel great if it’s the right starter template for you. It should be tasty, filling, and liberating. That is once you wrest yourself from the grips of food-like products designed specifically to coopt your brain and body with their hyperstimulatory chemicals.

Feel empowered to have discovered this tool. Your body is merciful. You can trash it for decades, like I did, and it will still give you a fresh start.

When you’re ready, the tools of transformation are available. The menu is there. Honoring food is the first step in an incredible journey of empowerment you won’t regret. Find that little voice inside that knows there is something powerful in food-based healing and give it a microphone. It will undoubtedly say, Just Do It!

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About Dr. Kelly Brogan

KELLY BROGAN, MD, is a holistic psychiatrist, author of the New York Times Bestselling book, A Mind of Your OwnOwn Your Self, the children’s book, A Time For Rain, and co-editor of the landmark textbook Integrative Therapies for Depression. She is the founder of the online healing program Vital Mind Reset, and the membership community, Vital Life Project. She completed her psychiatric training and fellowship at NYU Medical Center after graduating from Cornell University Medical College, and has a B.S. from M.I.T. in Systems Neuroscience. She is specialized in a root-cause resolution approach to psychiatric syndromes and symptoms. Learn More