Taking Charge of Your Health

Hi, my name is Dr. Talia Marcheggiani, I’m
a naturopathic doctor practicing in Bloor West Village in Toronto and I have a special
interest in mental health and hormone conditions. I’m particularly passionate about working
with youth and mental health conditions. So as many of you know, I have the opportunity
to work with some street-involved youth in downtown Toronto at the Evergreen Yonge Street
Mission as a naturopathic doctor in the drop-in health clinic there. My patients there are age 18-25 and many of
them suffer from psychiatric conditions, mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety,
bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, sometimes psychosis, and oftentimes addictions. In my private practice I see a lot of patients
with depression and anxiety and a lot of youth suffering from psychological and emotional
stressors. I’m so passionate about working with youth
because I find that working with mental illness can help us set the stage for health in the
future and especially setting the stage for mental health and emotional health literacy
in the future creating empowered adults. There’s an increase in psychiatric diagnoses
in youth, especially an increase in prescriptions to youth for mental health conditions. These prescriptions are prescribed to youth
to correct “brain imbalances” setting the stage for a future of health and balanced
brain chemistry. However, this is the story that we’ve been
told, but when we look at the research, we find that, first of all, there’s no research
to show that depression and anxiety are caused by inherent brain imbalances, chemical imbalances
in the brain, in anybody, let alone youth. And we also see, when we look at the studies
that while these drugs can help some people, some people will say that they couldn’t get
out of bed without these medications and these medications saved their lives, and that’s
totally valid for them and their experience, but when we look at actual studies we find
that there’s not very much benefit in taking these medications in people with depression
and anxiety. And the benefits in youth are even lower. What we also see is that over the long-term,
the disability from mental illness increases with people who are taking medication and
what we see in the youth too is because these drugs induce a brain imbalance, so things
like SSRIs for depression, like Prozac, or benzodiazepines for anxiety, something like
lorazepam or Ativan, that these drugs actually induce chemical imbalances and some of them
are very addictive, and difficult to get off of, and some of them can even set the stage
for worsening mental health conditions, because of these brain imbalances. We see that, especially children who are prescribed
Ritalin at a young age, or with SRRIs, like Prozac or citalopram, they’re seeing a rise
in bipolar disorder and worsening mental illness in these populations. And that’s a big deal. And it’s particularly worrisome because we
think of how youth don’t have fully developed brains until the age of 25. So as a naturopathic doctor, I like to look
at why people are experiencing the symptoms that they are, especially when it comes to
mental health conditions. I think that depression and anxiety are symptoms. So, they’re often indicators of underlying
imbalances in how our body’s functioning. Because there is no test we can take to see
if you have depression or anxiety, it’s all based on symptoms and patients’ subjective
experience and, since we know that it’s not caused by an issue with your brain, and you’re
not born with it, we need to look at other reasons why. It can be a wonderful opportunity because
when we look deeper, beyond mental health symptoms, we can learn more about our bodies
and begin the journey to amazing health and wellness and when I’m working with youth,
this health and wellness and, as I mentioned before, mental health literacy, can expand
into their adult years, changing the course of their lives and, hopefully, because we’re
working with new generations, society.

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