“I am empty and aching and I don’t know why”— Paul Simon
Finding the Root Causes of Emotional Pain
For many people who come to see me—due to depression and anxiety—I am often asked the same question, “why do I feel this way?” Perhaps worse than the emotional pain itself is—the inability to understand where our pain is coming from or how to treat it.
One of the things I love most about being a naturopathic doctor is that naturopaths are dedicated to finding the root causes of disease. In the case of depression and anxiety: there can be many causes. This is why I often run basic labs when I first see my patients. Some common causes of anxiety and depression—that have a physical component— include, thyroid disease, hypoglycemia, adrenal exhaustion, and chronic pain—just to name a few.
Finding Meaning in Everyday Life
I also look at past traumas and spiritual causes for emotional distress. These causes can sometimes be ignored or dismissed by the patient. Sometimes, the causes are due to a traumatic experience. Or, the causes may be due to a lack of direction or purpose in life.
I am inspired by the work of Victor Frankl, who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl, believed that finding meaning in one’s life could alleviate pain even in difficult circumstances. For example, I recently treated a woman who was suffering from a great deal of depression and anxiety surrounding her job. Part of her therapy— in addition to nutritional support and lifestyle changes— was to explore her feelings about being called to do another type of work entirely. By encouraging her to pursue what she was drawn to do, much of her depression was alleviated.
Occasionally I get asked if natural therapies are as effective in treating depression as pharmaceuticals. And my feeling has always been that it depends on the individual and her unique needs. And while pharmaceuticals may help in an acute crisis, they do not offer a lasting change or cure. A quick fix approach is not permanent and does not ultimately help heal long-term depression. In that sense, I believe naturopathic medicine, can offer real solutions to people suffering from emotional pain so that real recovery is possible.
To find out more about my work, you can visit my web-pages at DoctorWhimsy.com