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Catherine Carrigan- November 1, 2000 OneBody.com Chat Archive


OneBody Nan Good day and welcome to OneBody.com’s Special Guest chat. Today at OneBody.com we will be chatting with Catherine Carrigan, author of “Healing Depression: A Holistic Guide” and President of Total Fitness. Catherine will be addressing holistic, non-drug treatments for depression and mind-body fitness.Please remember that you should check all health related information with your primary Health Care provider. Our sessions are not for diagnosis or treatment.


OneBody Kate Good day everyone and welcome to today’s Special Guest chat with Catherine Carrigan! Thank you for joining us today, Catherine. Let’s start off today’s chat with a little about yourself. Could you tell us about yourself and what you do?


Catherine Carrigan I am the author of Healing Depression: A Holistic Guide New York: Marlowe and Co., 1999. My book was originally published in 1997 and was the best selling book of the original publisher It was purchased by a larger publisher in New York and reissued in 1999. According to Amazon.com, it is one of the 3 top selling books on healing depression. It has also become the official handbook for the Depression Wellness Network which is based in Seattle, WA


OneBody Kate What is the Depression Wellness Network?


Catherine Carrigan The Depression Wellness Network is a network of people dedicated to healing depression holistically. I am the chairman of the network and we welcome individuals and practitioners from all over the country. Our listeners today can find out more about the network by logging on to Holistic Depression. I am also President of Total Fitness in Atlanta, GA and our mission at Total Fitness is to empower our clients to achieve total fitness of mind, body and spirit through individualized nutrition and fitness programs, ongoing education, and positive partnership. We are holding a seminar educational seminar on holistic treatments for depression December 16-17th in Atlanta, GA. Information about this and other seminars can be found on our Total Fitness web site.


OneBody Kate Catherine, you wrote the book Healing Depression: A Holistic Guide. Is it possible to heal depression without drugs?


Catherine Carrigan Yes, one of the most important messages of the book, Healing Depression: A Holistic Guide is that even serious life long mental illness can now be healed. Advances in brain research, new understanding about nutrition, and scientific research about the value of mind/body fitness has brought us into a new era in mental health. It is my prediction that in the future, depression will be very much like heart disease. A certain percentage of the population will always take drugs, but well informed consumers will use mind/body exercise and individualized nutrition programs to completely recover. The old paradigm was that people with mental illness should take drugs and go to a psychotherapist, perhaps for the rest of their lives. The new paradigm, is that mental illness can actually be healed. It is a very exciting time to be alive.


OneBody Kate Are you speaking about mental illness in general or specific kinds of mental illness?


Catherine Carrigan The specific mental illness that I am an expert in is depression. However, similar approaches have also been used with schizophrenia, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and other forms of mental illness. I myself have recovered from life long manic depression.


OneBody Kate: Can your approach be applied to all ethnic groups?


Catherine Carrigan Yes.


OneBody Kate What are the main goals of a holistic approach to treating depression?


Catherine Carrigan Number one, it is important for everyone to understand what happens when the brain functions optimally. In depression, the non-dominant hemisphere of the brain is 75-85% shut down and there are very low levels of electrical activity in the brain. When we are feeling joyful, the brain is fully integrated, which means there is equal electrical activity all throughout the brain. Number two, one of the primary goals of a holistic treatment should be to integrate the brain. Number three, this includes a nutritional component because although the brain weighs only 3 pounds, it uses 25% of our nutrition and has no way to store energy. It is important to balance blood sugar, and make sure that the brain has all necessary nutrition to make neurotransmitters. Research out of Harvard shows that people who are deficient in certain amino acids will be depressed even if they take anti-depressants. In summary, effective holistic treatment supply all necessary nutrients to the brain and then teach individuals how to achieve and maintain brain integration.


OneBody Kate How do you know whether a holistic approach will help someone. How do you go about assessing a person?


Catherine Carrigan First of all, I am not a doctor and I don’t want to be a doctor. My job is one of education. Each individual is unique. I teach individuals how to achieve peak performance in their brain and how to achieve optimal nutrition for themselves.


OneBody Kate Let’s talk about the nutritional aspects of your approach. Could you explain?


Catherine Carrigan The first thing that I work with people on is balancing blood sugar. The brain is highly sensitive to even minute changes in blood sugar. If your blood sugar is on a roller coaster, your moods will be too. Secondly, I do a system of body type dieting with my clients and assist each individual to discover what nutrition each person needs in order to function at their best. However, there are many similarities for people with depression. The brain needs essential fatty acids, especially Omega 3 fatty acids. A study at Harvard showed that E.P.A. (fish oil) was so effective for depression that the study was stopped on ethical grounds to give everyone E.P.A.. Also, a common lab finding in people with depression is a deficiency of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Food sensitivities are very common and need to be identified. Also, deficiencies in very common vitamins are scientifically proven to cause depression.


OneBody Kate Let’s talk about mind-body treatment, Catherine. What are effective mind-body treatments for depression?


Catherine Carrigan First, again we have to understand basic neurochemistry. Depression is characterized by low levels of the neurotransmitter seratonin and frequently low dopamine and sometimes low levels of other neurotransmitters. Research shows that certain kinds of exercise may alter the neurotransmitters. When I work with clients I watch their personality types. People with high levels of dopamine and low seratonin tend to have a lot of aggression and/or anxiety. They do well with heavy exercise and can balance their neurotransmitters by running hard, lifting weights, and pushing themselves. On the other hand, people with low levels of seratonin and dopamine tend to be tired and have carbohydrate cravings. They do well with yoga, T’ai Chi, light weights, walking, and easy, gentle exercise.


Catherine Carrigan For all brain types, I recommend Brain Gym, because it is scientifically proven to balance the brain waves and lead to greater integration of the brain. Brain Gym is a series of very simple exercises that anyone can do to integrate their brain. I use it in peak performance programming. Not only does it assist people with depression, but it also helps athletes, salesmen, and all my clients who want to be the best they can be by accessing all of their talents.


OneBody Kate Could you describe one of the exercises for audience?


Catherine Carrigan One of the simplest Brain Gym exercises is called “cross crawl”. You can cross crawl by standing up and bringing your opposite hand to the opposite knee as you lift the opposite knee and continue. The reason this works is that it stimulates the corpus collosum which integrates the right and left hemispheres. It is one of the simplest exercises that anyone can do alleviate depression.


OneBody Kate How is yoga helpful for depression?


Catherine Carrigan I have 3 certifications in yoga, one of which is Integrative Yoga Therapy. Integrative Yoga Therapy balances not only the physical body, but also the energy body, the emotional body, the wisdom body, and the spiritual body. When we are depressed brain wave research shows that our beta brain waves are frequently stuck too high, especially when we focus excessively on negative occurrences. Also, in some individuals with depression, theta brain waves are too high. Doing yoga raises alpha brain waves and calms beta brain waves. Also, it puts us in touch with our spiritual body which is always at peace and always in a state of bliss. Many of my students have told me that taking my yoga classes is more effective for them than taking drugs. Also, in yoga, there is a system of eastern medicine called Ayurveda which divides individuals into three body types – vata, pitta,and kapha. Depression is characterized by excessive or imbalanced kapha. Sometimes this is brought on by excessive stress and we exhaust ourselves, leading into immobility.


Catherine Carrigan My book, “Healing Depression” has been useful even for people that are not depressed because it explains how long term stress can alter your body chemistry. The body does not know the difference between biochemical stress and emotional stress. Simply put, when we have burned ourselves out, restorative yoga can be extremely helpful. On the other hand, many people with depression need to raise the level of electrical activity in their brain by moving more often. A recent study out of Duke University proved that exercise alone was more effective for depression than drugs, or drugs and exercise. With my clients , I explain that exercise is like nutrition. Not all exercise is therapeutic for everybody. You can overdo exercise, stress your adrenals, and land in depression. It is important to understand your basic nature and design an exercise program that is therapeutic for you.


OneBody Kate How has the medical community responded to your book?


Catherine Carrigan I received a standing ovation from alternative doctors at an international conference in Zurich. At conferences where I have spoken in the U.S., both traditional and alternative practitioners have been very excited. A new day is dawning. Caring doctors want effective solutions.


OneBody Kate Catherine, I see that our time is almost up. This has been such an informative hour! Thank you so much for your time and we do hope our audience takes the time to check out your web sites and book as well.


OneBody Kate Thank you for joining us!


Catherine Carrigan Thank you so much! I say a prayer at this time, that all those who have been listening today will be blessed and that the message of hope and newfound knowledge will continue expanding around the globe.


OneBody Kate Thank you again and thank you to our audience for spending this hour with us this afternoon. Have a wonderful afternoon everyone. For further discussion or information, please join the OneBody Fitness Discussion Forum.


Catherine Carrigan is president of Total Fitness of Atlanta, Ga., www.totalfitness.net, and the author of Healing Depression: A Holistic Guide (New York: Marlowe and Co., 1999). She teaches seminars worldwide on health, fitness and nutrition and is an internationally-recognized expert on mind-body fitness. She is honorary board chairman of the Depression Welness Network, www.depressionwellness.net, a national fitness spokesman for Johnson and Johnson and the mind-body fitness expert for www.aboutstress.com.

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