In a recent episode of Therapy Chat Podcast, host Laura Reagan, LCSW-C, founder of Trauma Therapist Network, interviewed Dr. Jodie Skillicorn. Dr. Skillicorn identifies as a holistic psychiatrist. She defines being a holistic psychiatrist as seeking to find the root cause of depression and other mental health concerns, rather than simply using medication to manage symptoms.
Challenging Conventional Wisdom About Serotonin
We have all heard that depression can be caused by low Serotonin levels. If you’ve heard that, you might be surprised to learn that Dr. Skillicorn has a different perspective. And it is not just her opinion, but it’s backed up by research, as she explains in her book, Healing Depression Without Medication: A Psychiatrist’s Guide to Balancing Mind, Body, and Soul. She challenges the idea that most mental health problems are the result of low Serotonin, stating:
“What they’ve found is that basically a quarter of the population, either with a history of mental illness or without, have low Serotonin, and a quarter of the population with a history of mental illness or without, have high Serotonin. And the rest of us are somewhere in the middle. This suggests that there is no ‘normal’ level of Serotonin that a person should have.”Dr. Jodie Skillicorn, Therapy Chat Episode 234
Consider the Impact of Trauma In Mental Health Treatment
Rather than the idea of a chemical imbalance causing mental health symptoms, Dr. Skillicorn suggests that we consider the impact of trauma, whether that trauma occurred during childhood or more recently. We here at Trauma Therapist Network agree with her perspective, and that is why we created this site: to help people find information and resources for healing.
When we think of visiting a psychiatrist we might expect them to inquire about our symptoms and write a prescription. That is one way it can be, but as Dr. Skillicorn explains, holistic psychiatry uses a different approach. Some of the methods she uses in her practice include:
- Assessing nutrition
- Recommending exercise/movement to improve mood
- Breathing techniques
- Sleep hygiene
- Nature therapy
- EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)
- EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)
“There is no such thing as a broken brain.”Jodie Skillicorn, Therapy Chat Episode 234
Dr. Skillicorn emphasizes the importance of a non-pathologizing approach to mental health treatment. Being told by a mental health professional that your brain is “broken,” is neither helpful nor productive to the therapy process. She argues that this can be retraumatizing and can lead to people feeling more isolated. Further, she says that the “broken brain” concept is not supported by research on neurobiology.
We at the Trauma Therapist Network agree wholeheartedly that trauma can heal, and no one is broken! Part of our mission is to depathologize therapy and reduce stigma by helping people learn about their mental health and how trauma can contribute to it.
One of the reasons that therapy is helpful is because of neuroplasticity. Simply put, this means that our brains can grow and change throughout our lifespan. Dr. Skillcorn uses a neurobiological approach in her work. As she describes in the podcast interview, “Our brain changes with every thought and with every action…but, as you start to shift those things, you start to shift the wiring, you start to shift the nervous system, then you start to shift how you feel and respond to the world.”
Coming Back Home To The Breath
Dr. Skillicorn is also passionate about the power of breathwork, explaining that the breath is one way for a person to directly communicate a felt sense of safety to their limbic system. She also discussed the power of nutrition in triggering and alleviating anxiety and depressive symptoms.
She explains, “the microbiome and all the bacteria in our gut, and the balance of these bacteria, which outnumber us, they send a constant message with every bite of food up to the brain to let the brain know the state of our situation. So when it’s fatty processed foods, it sends this message of a yellow or orange alert of ‘something’s not quite right,’ ‘something’s not quite right,’ because we’re really not designed to eat those foods.”
There were so many more interesting tidbits of information in this podcast interview. You can hear the whole conversation between Dr. Skillicorn and Laura in episode 234 of Therapy Chat, titled: Holistic Psychiatry For Depression and Trauma- With Dr. Jodie Skillicorn, by clicking here.
Dr. Jodie Skillicorn is the author of the book: Healing Depression Without Medication: A Psychiatrist’s Guide to Balancing Mind, Body, and Soul, available wherever books are sold. She also has two websites: Mindful Psychiatry, and jodieskilicorn.com.
Dr. Skillicorn’s website: http://www.mindfulpsych.com/
Link to Loveland Foundation: https://thelovelandfoundation.org/
Link to Laura’s fundraiser for Loveland foundation: https://www.flipcause.com/secure/fundraiser/NzU4MzM=/45973
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