Millions of people experience depression and anxiety, and often feel their only option is to take medications that may not completely resolve the issues. Studies show that anxiety and depression are related both to our genetic tendencies and our exposure to various stresses in life. We can address our genetic tendencies and help our bodies recover from stress using natural approaches such as mindfulness, dietary changes, nutrients, amino acid therapy, as well as optimizing hormones, blood sugar, and gut bacteria. Naturopathic doctors can serve this population and help people resolve mood-related issues once and for all.
To view the archive of past webinar recordings, please click here.
About the Presenter
Donielle (Doni) Wilson, is a doctor of naturopathic medicine (Bastyr University alumna), natural health expert, nutritionist, midwife and author who believes it is possible to be healthy, even when we are stressed. After experiencing and recovering from stress herself, Dr. Doni wrote a book called The Stress Remedy. In that book she redefines stress to include toxins, food sensitivities, and lack of sleep. She explains how stress causes adrenal distress, leaky gut, and blood sugar imbalances. And she offers expert guidance on how to reclaim optimal health with the approach she has used to help thousands of patients. She specializes in gluten sensitivity, intestinal permeability, adrenal stress, insulin resistance, neurotransmitter imbalances, hypothyroidism, women’s health issues, autoimmunity and genetic variations called “SNPs”, such as MTHFR, which can have a profound impact upon your health. For nearly 20 years, she has helped women, men and children overcome their most perplexing health challenges and achieve their wellness goals by crafting individualized strategies that address the whole body and the underlying causes of health issues. Dr. Doni is frequently called upon to discuss her approach in the media, as well as at both public and professional events. She writes a blog that you can find at DrDoni.com.
“I like to help the underdog because I’ve been the underdog. The one who is not feeling well, hasn’t found an answer, who wants to feel better and will do what it takes, even if that means facing fears of how their life may change and that they may actually get what they want – whether that is a baby, a relationship, a new job, or the ability to travel.”
Doni (Donielle) Wilson, ND, CPM, CNS is a naturopathic doctor, professional midwife, and bestselling author who developed a protocol for helping patients based on her own health journey, research, and experience in helping thousands of patients.
Laying the groundwork to become an ND
“I grew up in a pharmacy. While I was surrounded by medications, my father taught me to make diet and lifestyle choices in order to avoid the need for medications. In my family home, we weren’t allowed to have sugar cereal or soda. Instead we took vitamins and fought our way through a cold with tea and rest.
When in college, studying for a pre-med degree, I decided I wanted to also get a degree in nutrition. I ended up solving the heartburn I had been experiencing by studying nutrition and changing my diet. None of the medications had worked, and it turns out that my body is super sensitive to medications, so the side effects tended not to outweigh the benefits.
When I graduated from college, I left pharmacy school and walked into naturopathic medical school, where I learned that what I had suspected was true:
Our bodies are responsive. Just as health conditions develop when we are exposed to stress, eat unhealthily, skimp on sleep, and put pressure on ourselves to be something different…our health can improve when we make the decision to create a different experience. When we decide to take steps to improve our health, and we choose to eat differently, sleep more, decrease exposure to stress and toxins, and believe in ourselves and our ability to create a life we love…our health can improve.
That is when I knew I was on the right path.”
“Living the dream” after graduation
Dr. Doni graduated from Bastyr University with a doctorate in naturopathic medicine and a certificate in midwifery. The education that she gained at Bastyr allowed her to start practicing and to continue learning, it also gave her the credibility to start writing and speaking about natural medicine publicly and professionally.
Following graduation, Dr. Doni completed a one-year residency at Bastyr, and then moved to New York. She built her business while working at an ND practice. This “soft” approach allowed her to hone her skills and continue learning. When her daughter started school, she opened her practice full-time.
“My success was also closely tied to my passion. Every day and every choice I made was about sharing my passion for natural medicine. I saw that the internet was going to be a great way to reach people, so I created a website and started sharing it. I learned to create and give presentations, and found places I could give lectures. I was willing to try, and to learn. I reached out to practicing NDs, and created a community so we could support each other. I joined the professional organization and became part of the board and legislative team, all with the intent of creating greater awareness, as well as a scope and accountability for the profession. I said “yes” to media opportunities and leadership training. And it continued from there.
I started practicing in Manhattan in November 2001, and Connecticut soon after. I wanted to practice in a state where I’m licensed – that was a priority for me – and so I drove/drive/fly thousands of miles per year to make that happen. I was president and executive director of the New York Association of Naturopathic Physicians for over ten years, during which time I worked with the board of directors to establish and grow the professional organization, as well as to establish an effective lobbying effort and annual conference.
Finding fulfillment as an ND
Due to the flexibility of her naturopathic degree, Dr. Doni says, “I create a practice the way I want it to fit into my life, and I can change it as needed over time. It means that I can focus on areas that inspire me, from working one on one, to working in groups, to writing, speaking, researching, volunteering, and overall continuing to learn and grow as a person.
I get to do what I love and have time to be with the people and pets that I love. I mainly work from my home office, and travel to my other offices. I continue to share my passion for health and resiliency to stress though my blog, website and newsletter, as well as podcasts and events.
Each day I meet with patients who come in to see me and say ‘I realized that the only one I can count on to take care of my body and my health is me. And so, I am here to find out what I can do, in the most efficient, more cost-effective way, to change my health outcome, with the least use of medications and procedures that may work temporarily, but also come with a list of potential side effects and dependencies. I want to know what I can eat and do to give my body the support it needs to heal and be healthy so I can do what I love to do without being stopped by health issues, for as long as possible.’
I help patients who have had recurrent miscarriages to finally be able to get pregnant and have a healthy baby. I help women with abnormal pap smears to get back to a health pap smear without drugs or procedures that could damage their cervix. I help men and women who no longer know how they can get through another day due to fatigue, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and/or pain, to be living their passion and feeling good doing it. I help adults and children who’ve been told that their immune system is attacking their own body and there is nothing they can do about it, to reverse autoimmunity without the risk of immune suppressive medications.
I am passionate about inspiring people to make choices to recover from and be resilient to stress. I help change the way people relate to themselves and others. To become accepting of ourselves as humans who are adaptive and responsive to stress, and therefore, longevity depends on making sometimes difficult decisions related to the foods we eat, the toxins we are exposed to, and how we choose to communicate and be with the people in our lives. Health is not about taking medications to solve symptoms; health is about solving the equation: genetics + stress exposure.”
How Can You be so Confident that the Body Can Heal?
“I’ve seen it happen in thousands of patients over 20 years. People who chose to listen and chose to take a chance that their body could heal when they make different decisions. I saw it in my own body. I lived with severe, debilitating migraines for 25 years. I am sensitive to medications, and because of my genetics, I’m not able to take medications due to severe side effects, and when I do, they don’t help. I was forced to figure out how to bring the pain to a stop. In the process of trying diet changes and various systems of medicine, from acupuncture to massage therapy, to detoxification and hormone balancing, I found that solving my migraines came down to three steps:
Accept my body for what it is. My genes and my stress exposure set me up for migraines. I can’t go get another body, but I can do something different with this body and this situation. Instead of rejecting my body and being mad at myself for something I cannot change, I decided to accept my body and from there, I can do something about it.
Get information. I looked at my genes and figured out how to support my body based on my genetics. And looked at my stress exposure, including from foods, toxins and stress that I put on myself, and I noticed what is having a negative effect. I measured my cortisol and adrenaline levels, and did a test to know which bacteria are living in my gut, and this way I know for sure what exists in my body, what is out of balance, and what needs to be addressed.
Choose differently. Once I discovered that I have a gene called MTHFR, and I require a certain quantity of the right B vitamins each day, I could choose that. And then when I realized that I have a gene that causes my joints to be hyper-mobile, meaning that sitting in the same position for long periods of time is the worst possible thing for my body, I ordered a standing desk and make sure to never sit for more than an hour at a time. When I tested my toxin levels and found that my body was filled with flame retardant from the mattress I was sleeping on, I threw out that mattress and took nutrients to help my body get rid of the toxins.
I don’t get migraines anymore. And even though my parents and grandparents had autoimmunity, I don’t. I wish I had help to solve my health issues when I needed it. Instead of giving up and giving in to a life of pain medications, I decided there had to be something I could do to figure this out, and I did.
I’ve never had recurrent miscarriages, abnormal pap smears, or autoimmunity, but I know how to solve them because I use the same method I used to solve my migraines. I used to have allergies, sensitivities to many foods, fatigue, menstrual cramps, anxiety and depression. Now they are all gone too.
I like to help the underdog because I’ve been the underdog. The one who is not feeling well, hasn’t found an answer, who wants to feel better and will do what it takes, even if that means facing fears of how their life may change and that they may actually get what they want – whether that is a baby, a relationship, a new job, or the ability to travel.
I was the perpetual ‘new girl’ throughout my childhood. I attended 10 different schools in six different cities by the time I graduated from high school. I was always the last one picked for a team, and the first to have my name mispronounced by the teacher. I had to learn to do many things on my own, to be okay in vulnerable situations, and to stand up for myself. I also learned that it is possible to be healthy even when stressed, and possible to find solutions even if they might not be what everyone else is choosing.”
Advice for aspiring NDs
“Check in with yourself and your passion. Why are you considering naturopathic medicine as a career path? How do you feel about your health and how have you addressed your health so far in your life? What inspires you? How do you want to spend your time in your life? Do you love to inspire others and share your knowledge in a way that empowers others?”
Join Dr. Doni for a free webinar – Naturopathic Approaches to Anxiety and Depression
“Naturopathic medicine can offer those struggling with anxiety and depression a solution that is not reliant on prescription medication with side effects and dependency. By understanding our bodies, our physiology and our stress response system, and then investigating how stress (of various forms) has affected your body, we can then give your body what it needs to improve many symptoms and conditions, including anxiety and depression.”
Here’s what you can expect to learn:
Your body and brain CAN heal
What causes anxiety and depression
What role does stress play in anxiety and depression
What is the gut-brain axis and the relationship of our nervous system to the rest of our body
What are neurotransmitters and where do they come from
Which tests can help us understand the underlying causes of anxiety and depression
What protocol to follow to re-balance your body in order to reduce anxiety and depression
Join Radley Ramdhan, ND, MsAc, former Specialist in the United States Army Corp of Engineers, New York Army National Guard for an informative session on naturopathic approaches to PTSD. Hear about his firsthand journey as a doctor and veteran in navigating traumatic issues with patients.
To view the archive of past webinar recordings, please click here.
About the Presenter
Radley Ramdhan, ND, MsAc completed his Bachelor of Science in Biology at Barry University in Miami, Florida. He earned his Master of Science in Acupuncture and Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from the University of Bridgeport School of Naturopathic Medicine (UBSNM) in Bridgeport, Connecticut. While pursuing his studies, he served as a Specialist in the United States Army Corp of Engineers, New York Army National Guard for six years. It was through his military experience that he developed a special interest in working with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) patients, and as a result completed his thesis on understanding and treating PTSD using a naturopathic approach. Dr. Radley served one deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in Kuwait and Iraq.
He has co-authored two articles published by Naturopathic Doctor News and Review :
25% of female deaths are attributed to heart disease.1 64% of women who die suddenly from coronary heart disease have no symptoms.2 Watch naturopathic cardiologist Dr. Decker Weiss’ webinar on naturopathic approaches for women with heart disease.
Approximately 25% of women will develop osteoporosis in their lifetime.1 The National Osteoporosis Foundation reports that approximately half of women over the age of 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis.2 Lifestyle factors such as exercising, specifically weight bearing, and maintaining a nutritious diet with vitamin D and calcium are critical to bone health.
Stress can ripple through all aspects of our mind and body. Dr. Brad Lichtenstein shares how NDs help patients identify and prevent stressors, teaching them simple techniques to manage stress, and how to avoid situations that may lead to negative impacts on health and well-being.
12% percent of women have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term.1 Naturopathic approaches to improved fertility help couples conceive quickly and safely while addressing the root cause of conception issues.
Over 1.5 million people are diagnosed with cancer every year in the Unites States. 38% of women will develop cancer in their lifetime.1 Drawing on decades of combined experience in naturopathic oncology, Dr. Marcia Prenguber and Dr. Marie Winters review the role of a naturopathic physician from risk reduction to survivorship.
Arthritis impacts over 50 million Americans, making it the number one cause of disability in the country.1Learn about the large toolbox naturopathic doctors have to help those suffering with any form of arthritis.
Millions of American are prescribed opioids to cope with chronic pain. It’s estimated that 21-29% of patients will misuse them, and 8-12% will develop an abuse disorder.1 46 people die every day from overdosing on prescription opiods.2 Dr. Tyna Moore discusses the opioid crisis and non-pharmacological approaches to pain management.
Women are nearly two times more likely to be diagnosed with depression than men.1 Studies show that anxiety and depression are related to our genetic tendencies and exposure to stressors. Dr. Peter Bongiorno explains how naturopathic medicine can help resolve mood-related issues.
Most people are embarrassed to talk about problems they experience in the bathroom. With a worldwide prevalence of 10-20%, it’s time to start talking about irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).1 Hear from four NDs about why naturopathic medicine may hold the key to uncovering the root cause of IBS.
200 million women worldwide and 1 in 10 women in the United States suffer from endometriosis.1 Dr. Alison Egeland discusses naturopathic approaches to women’s health and a tricky case of endometriosis.
1 in 9 women in the Unites States has diabetes.1Learn how naturopathic approaches to diabetes treatment can relieve symptoms, help patients manage blood sugar levels better, and in some cases reverse disease progression.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez, AANMC executive director, joins KCAA’s NBC LA affiliate On the Brink to discuss the relationship between depression and heart disease.
Full Transcript of Interview Below.
Gender impacts on health
Stress and its relationship with heart health
Adaption to stress
Positivity and gratitude
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: As I was preparing for this morning and thinking about it, something kept popping up in my head and maybe it’s because I’m getting sentimental with my old age and Valentine’s Day, but I was thinking about the role of our minds and our thoughts on the heart and figured, hey everybody talks about heart disease and how you should eat well and you should exercise and some of the things that are better for managing heart disease and preventing heart disease like the Mediterranean diet. I know we’ve talked about that before. How do we do something different today? I thought maybe we would connect the relationship with depression and heart disease.
Erin Brinker: Oh, I think that’s wonderful.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Is that okay?
Erin Brinker: Yes, I think that’s wonderful. Absolutely.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: I was looking at the statistics and heart disease still remains the number one killer of folks in the United States, one out of every four deaths. It is very important to understand but one of the lesser talked about issues in heart disease is that folks with heart disease, heart patients, are three times as likely to be depressed at any given time than the general population. I found that really interesting and depression is also twice as common in women than men.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: One of the things that kept coming into my mind and I always look at illness and all patient issues with a naturopathic lens, is how does our role with stress, how does our role with how we handle things, why is depression twice as likely in women than men? Is our existence that much more depressing than the male experience? What is that about?
Erin Brinker: I wonder if women are more likely to recognize their depression and ask for assistance than men are.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: That definitely is part of it. There’s a lot of stigma around men feeling weak or showing “weakness” and anything mental can be considered weakness. You know, “tough it up, be a man,” that whole culture of having to try and stiff upper lip everything and hold it in actually impacts so many different components of our health. I’ve talked before about the role of cortisol and stress in our talks here in the morning, but stress impacts our release of cortisol which is a hormone and that has so many different ripples in the body, some of which can worsen heart disease if it’s already present or exacerbate incidents of heart disease. Cortisol, that’s your stress hormone, that’s ‘run from the bear in the woods’ kind of thing and what does it do? It increases your heart rate, it increases blood sugar levels, which subsequently can have increased damage on your vascular system. There’s a lot of ripples and a connection between stress and heart disease that isn’t often talked about or addressed.
Erin Brinker: I know that people who deal with chronic pain can become depressed because the presence of pain that’s with you all the time is depressing. I mean, I’ve known enough people who have had like back pain and they really fight depression. Is this a chicken and the egg thing? Does the depression come first and then the heart disease or the heart disease and then the depression, or does that really matter?
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: I think it depends on the patient, Erin. There are so many different factors and I don’t think that we can say there’s just a one size fits all reason why folks have cardiovascular disease and it’s the number one killer. I would say that diet is definitely, at least in the United States, a major component, but what happens when folks are depressed? Depression in and of itself lends you to not want to exercise, not want to get out and talk to friends, and self-isolate, maybe grab more carb heavy foods, and things that will increase your weight and increase your blood pressure. It becomes this vicious cycle that just continues to feed itself. I don’t know that we can pinpoint any one thing but being depressed will … How motivated are you if you’re feeling down to go out and exercise? Funny thing is that’s exactly what you should do when you’re feeling down, like get out, get out of the house, don’t sit and mope and wallow in it. Go take a walk, go call a friend. I think there are many better adaptive coping mechanisms that we can do to our stressors but some of that just is around how do we adapt to stress. If you’re stressed do you instantly go to like anger or anxiety? Research has shown that the folks that when they’re stressed, they go to anger and anxiety, they have higher levels of heart disease.
Erin Brinker: Interesting.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: How we manage our stress is also important. Recognizing the things that get you stressed out … I can tell you mornings stress me out. Getting a six-year-old up and out the door …
Erin Brinker: Ah, yes.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Getting ready for school stresses me out and so what I’ve tried to do, what we’ve tried to do in the house, is do as many things ahead of time so get the clothes out, make breakfast the night before or have things that are quick and easy to grab for breakfast and get a routine set so that we can head off at the path at least some of the things that will lead to more stress. Some things are going to be in our control and then there are going to be things that are not in our control and we still have to manage how do we respond to that; do we find the silver lining or do we mope and wallow in it. Yesterday, I was having a morning yesterday like it sounds like you guys are having today and I ended up … I had just gotten back into town after a week away, breakfast wasn’t made, and so I found myself running out the door to try and go grab breakfast at a store for my son, leave the house without my purse.
Erin Brinker: I have had … That has happened to me and you just want to cry. Oh, my goodness, I am so sorry that happened to you.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Well, but like in that moment of like okay, I’ve got a hungry kid, he has to eat, I’ve got no purse, like what do we do? Okay, what do we have in the car? Then I realized that I had some emergency cash stowed away in a pocket, like ah, okay. But like you could, you could just sit and just give up and cry or you can just go into alright, how do we make the best out of it?
Erin Brinker: Right.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Go ahead.
Erin Brinker: One of the things about depression is that you do isolate yourself and the people around you may not know how to say … How to pull you out, to help you work through that stress. I had a pretty stressful day yesterday and Tobin makes me laugh when I’m stressed, even if it irritates me a little bit when he starts, by the time he’s done I’m really happy that he did it and so I think we need to be cognizant of what those around us are feeling and going through and we can help.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Absolutely. You know, there’s so much, and we’ve talked about this before, check in on your friends. Recently, I’ve had several friends lose parents and loved ones and you make check on them initially, but check on them in a week or two or a month later. Keep checking on your friends, keep making sure that they’re okay. Stop in, make them laugh, take them to a funny movie. Do those types of things that will help elevate and just be a good human being, I think at the end of the day.
Erin Brinker: Just start there.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Start there, be a good human. You wish you didn’t have to tell that to people but you know.
Erin Brinker: You know, we get … I know when I get busy, I get tunnel vision and it’s a good reminder to say hey, have you checked in on your friends lately? Have you sent a note and said I’m thinking about you? It’s so easy to do with a text or social media post or whatever, it’s so easy to reach out to people now.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: It really is. I think, again, it’s just we all get tunnel vision, we all get caught up in our day to day and making a choice to stop and check in on your friends and also stop and check in on yourself. That’s one of the things that I think when people get really busy and caught up, it’s easy to ignore feelings and how you’re doing and your attitude, really impact your emotional state. We can sit and focus and dwell on the things that are missing in our life until the cows come home. We can think about all the things we don’t have, all of the stuff that we wish we had, all the things we would want to have, or we can focus on the blessings we do have right here and right now. That practice of positivity and of gratitude … Yesterday I was having kind of one of those days and I forced myself before I went to bed, I’m like okay, focus on the things that you’re thankful for. What are the good things in your life and leave those as the last thoughts you have before you go to sleep.
Erin Brinker: Oh, that’s beautiful. That’s beautiful. An attitude of gratitude is a game changer, it really is.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: It really is and it has been for me. I always joke, I come from a long line of worriers and anxious people, so it’s long bred in my family to be anxious and so I consciously have to say okay, you’re going a little too far on one side on this Jo, come on back, remember the things that you do have, remember the blessings, and be thankful for those because you’ve got it pretty good compared to a whole lot. Not to brag, but we have a house, we have a roof over our head, we’ve got food in the fridge, you know I’ve got family that loves me. That’s a really good place to start.
Erin Brinker: Indeed, and that will be our last word for today. Let people know how they can find you and follow you and learn more about the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges.