A Mind-Body Connection to Anxiety, Depression, and Insomnia

 In Anxiety/Depression/Mental Health, Mind/Body

Betsy Yurgel, RN, NMD

If I can help just one person
A person who is in a deep dark hole
Such as depression, physical illness,
Or simply being lost in their purpose
Help someone like I was helped
Then I have done what I am here to do

-Betsy Yurgel, RN, NMD

As a practicing naturopathic physician and registered nurse having specialized in psychiatry for many years, I feel the most important component of assisting a client in making leaps and bounds in his journey toward health is by helping him connect to the mental, emotional, and spiritual dimensions of who he is as an individual. With a holistic perspective using naturopathic philosophies, one can find a balance which exists on all dimensions of health.

As a healthcare provider I see a variety of patients. Currently, I have a private practice, a contract working for the State of Arizona treating people with serious mental illness, as well as a position in a geriatric psychiatric hospital. I have been given the opportunity to treat many people who come from all walks of life; people who have experienced a myriad of levels of human existence. My primary focus is on treating the physical body along with the mental, emotional, and spiritual components of patients. Here I will focus on the mind-body connection to anxiety, depression, and insomnia as it presents itself within the framework of my personal knowledge and experience.

Anxiety, depression, and insomnia are exceedingly common occurrences seen in people living within today’s society. I view these occurrences as being a mind, body, and spirit out of balance. We, as physicians, oftentimes focus primarily on biochemistry and physical mechanisms to find a way to help alleviate these symptoms. This approach can be very helpful, but in the long run often ends up exhibiting minimal success. When using the holistic approach to healing, people discover they can truly be the masters of their destiny through simply looking within themselves. I have found that physical illness often originates from a mental, emotional, and spiritual place, ultimately presenting itself in the physical body. To truly heal these health concerns, one needs to view insomnia, anxiety, and depression as a warning sign of a human being out of balance.

Many times insomnia coincides with a varying level of depression and anxiety. There are numerous reasons why people develop these signals or warning signs. With increased stress, worry, poor diets, and lack of exercise, it is no wonder the American fast-paced lifestyle has progressed to the level of so many Americans being prescribed antidepressants and anxiolytics. To truly alleviate the cause of these health concerns, one needs to explore the underlying cause of why these warning signs have come into existence. One needs to look at old records or patterns of thought that are played over and over in the mind: Where did I come from? Why is this happening to me? What is my purpose in life? One then must learn how to reprogram these notions and transform their belief system. Transform old belief systems that have created a perception of isolation, lack of purpose, and indifference to the world and universe around them.

Healing Occurs on Multidimensional Levels

Countless people suffer from insomnia for years and only when it becomes intolerable, finally seek help. Conventional methods of using pharmaceuticals have been commonly used with short-term benefits and a lack of long-term cures. By leaving out the mental, emotional, and spiritual component of our patients, we merely create a temporary solution. Human beings are multidimensional, and miraculous healing takes place on multidimensional levels. It is important to encourage a connection to the universe, a sense of self-empowerment, purpose, and a meaning to an existence on earth. This is where the holistic philosophy of healing demonstrates such a profound opportunity for many people to truly restore their health.

With a naturopathic approach I have seen numerous people go through a great transformational journey. In the current economy, some have lost their job and some their home, and all have found themselves in situations they never imagined. These distressing circumstances play a huge part in one’s health being out of balance. These situations create a life without connection, meaning, purpose or joy; a life without balance. With increased stress comes increased worry and a decrease in overall well-being. As time goes on, the situation compounds and a person may find themselves feeling a lack of peace, overwhelmed and pondering: “What is the purpose of my existence anyway?” With this energy comes an increase in the warning signs of anxiety, depression and insomnia.

Clients who enter my office often present with a common underlying theme. A theme that speaks of a belief system comprised of very little joy, absent of self-empowerment, and a life which is overridden by fear.

I have seen an abundance of individuals overcome these potentially devastating situations, working through anxiety, depression, and insomnia by using a holistic approach. Working through and transitioning to a place with a clearer sense of identity, discovering what they truly want out of life, and having a desire to seek out ways to achieve improved health and overall happiness. To reach these goals people may have to make major life changes; changes in careers, relationships, and lifestyle. They must begin to think outside the box and create a new existence by creating a new belief system. A belief system which allows them to take their personal power back and create the life they truly want to live.

Finding the Gift

For every problem in life there is a hidden gift. My goal as an ND is to help my patients find this precious gift, embrace it, and move forward. Losing a job, a home, or a relationship, as hard as that can be, may actually be the beginning of a journey down a road in which they discover themselves again. People are learning to find a strength which lies deep within—an inner peace, thereby experiencing less of a need to focus on what is on the outside.

Gifts may include developing a stronger identity, finding a true passion in life, and building a belief system which incorporates a connection to the universe in which they live. With the help of the naturopathic principles, patients can turn hardships into experiences they can capitalize on and from which they can learn to grow.

Naturopathic medicine is a gift within itself. By practicing in Arizona with its broad scope of practice, I am blessed to be able to use the best of both worlds of medicine; from the ancient to the most modern. I look at each patient as an individual and feel privileged to have so many tools to use. Time and again I use the philosophy of Traditional Chinese Medicine, naturopathy, intuition, and simply picking up on the subtle energetics of my patients as they share the story of their lives with me. I can help patients find their gift. I have been given the privilege of guiding them toward connecting to a deeper side of themselves, a side often overlooked or ignored. I find a sense of elation when I see them respond with amazement and relief. By hearing their story, truly connecting to them in the moment, and demonstrating a genuine level of human kindness, I find people feel a sense of connection and no longer feel alone. People find comfort in not only feeling someone cares, but also being offered support, encouragement, direction, and tangible options. This connection allows them to face issues which may have felt unsafe or threatening in the past. By addressing these areas, I find it allows people to delve deeper into their individual personal journey. I treat patients on a physical level using an understanding of biochemistry, herbal mechanisms of action, detoxification, nutrition, acupuncture, homeopathy, mind-body techniques, and even pharmaceuticals, if it is what is best for the patient.

Having said this, I feel the single most important component to healing is turning within and discovering a belief system which includes love of self, a reverence for all life, a perception of meaning and purpose in one’s existence, and a connection to the universe and the world one lives in. Once this has been achieved, insomnia, anxiety, and depression are no longer needed as warning signs. Often I am told the biggest reward a patient receives is the discovery of emotional patterns in their life, and the realization that patterns have developed like stones in a walkway that have led them to this very moment in time. An awareness of these patterns offers a newfound freedom, a freedom in which new belief systems are created. As a physician, it is truly a pleasure to have a part in helping patients restore their health.

Yurgel headshotBetsy Yurgel, RN, NMD is a licensed naturopathic physician practicing in the greater Phoenix, Arizona area. She has several degrees: Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, SCNM, July 2007; Registered Nurse specialized in psychiatry, Associate in Applied Science Degree, Mesa Community College, 1984; Kindergarten Teacher, Bachelor of Arts in Education, Arizona State University, 1994.


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