Taking Charge of Your Health

Hi my name is Dr. Talia Marcheggiani, I’m
a naturopathic doctor. I have a special focus in mental health and hormones and today I’m
going to talk about how hormone imbalances can be the hidden cause of depression and
anxiety symptoms. So we know that 10-20% of people are affected by depression and anxiety
in North America. We know that mental health and emotional wellness are pillars of happiness
and well-being in our society. When it comes to conventional treatment we only have a narrow
range of options available to us. So you go to a regular doctor you might get put on a
Selective-Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor or SSRI medication, like Prozac or Cipralex,
for your anxiety and depression. And this is based on the theory that people who suffer
from depression and anxiety have a brain imbalance of the “happy hormone” serotonin and that
the drugs “correct” this imbalance. “There’s nothing you can do about it”, “You’re born
this way,” and “you’re going to be sick for the rest of your life.” But when we look at
the research we find that these drugs are not much better than placebo, in fact they’re
just slightly better than placebo, and in some studies they’re not better at all. They
also come with a lot of side effects, like fatigue, weight gain, sexual dysfunction,
changes in motivation and further mood changes and when we look at studies in the long term
the people who are medicated don’t do better than people who were never medicated at all.
So, looking at the research we know there’s something else that must be going on. And
in the people I work with I find that depression and anxiety are symptoms they’re not actually
diseases. It’s not something we’re born with. It’s symptoms of something going on underneath
the surface. And a lot of the time these underlying conditions are hormonal imbalances. So we
know this because we look at the symptoms of depression: you’re fatigued, you feel sad,
you don’t have motivation, you might be suffering from low self-esteem, you might be experiencing
sexual dysfunction, you might have changes in weight, and sleep disturbance. When we
look at those symptoms we can also look at symptoms of cortisol imbalance, the stress
hormone, so we have something called Adrenal Fatigue, where you have the same symptoms:
you feel fatigued, you know notice changes in your weight, weight gain, you don’t feel
motivated, there’s changes in self-esteem, it’s hard to stay positive and there’s changes
in the sleep-wake cycle. So you might be waking up at 4 am, you might feel really tired and
need a sugary treat at 3 pm, and a lot of people notice energy crashes at 10 am. This
is a really common thing that we see in people waking up at that 2 am to 4 am window, in
the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep. When we look at testosterone deficiency,
and a lot of women can experience this, especially after going through menopause, you find the
same symptoms. You might notice that you have a harder time putting on muscle mass, you’re
going to the gym and you’re still feeling flabby and you’re not feeling like you’re
toning up as easily as you used to, you might notice wrinkles. And we also have issues like
thyroid conditions, which are very common right now, especially autoimmune thyroid conditions
like Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, and again
the symptoms are, fatigue, weight gain, brain fog, changes in appetite, changes in sleep,
a whole host of symptoms. So, we know that these hormonal imbalances can be causing depression
and when patients who are suffering from these conditions go to their doctor, they might
be put on anti-depressants, which is just covering up the symptoms while the disease
process continues. So I see this a lot in my practice and I’m really passionate about
helping people uncover the hidden causes of depression so that they can feel better, and
be more effective in their lives. And so, in naturopathic medicine we do this in a few
ways. When I first start working with somebody I take a thorough history, a 90-minute history,
where I go through life-style, who you are, your whole health story, what your appetite
is like, what your diet is like, what your sleep is like, how often do you move? When?
Where? We talk about, if you’re a woman your menstrual history, your sexual history, past
medical history, everything about your life-style and we spend 90 minutes doing that and getting
to know each other. I might write some labs. We look at levels of vitamins and hormones
in your blood to see how your body is functioning. Do you have the building blocks you need for
your brain to work and for your mood to be the best that it can be? And then we look
at influencing the factors that contribute to well-ness and mental health and the proper
hormone balance: life-style changes, herbs, nutrition, acupuncture, through managing stress,
which is a big one, because we know that stress is the underlying cause of a lot of conditions,
especially hormonal conditions and mental health conditions and managing stress is really
important right now in our society as we’re faced with more and more emotional and mental
stressors. So naturopathic medicine is looks for the cause behind symptoms, that’s the
key here, so we look at the constellation of symptoms and we connect the dots and act
like detectives to find out what’s going on underneath and we use the story that you tell,
the story that your labs tell, the physical exam, and our knowledge of biochemistry and
science on the body processes and the latest research to find out what’s going on behind
mental health symptoms. I’ll be talking again about more mental health conditions and how
naturopathic medicine can help you with your health goals. If you want to reach me, my
website is and I work at Bloor West Wellness Clinic in Toronto.

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