Top Step to Take When Dealing with Anxiety & Depression During Infertility with Dr. Isabel MD

podcast Feb 25, 2022

“It’s all about brain health; allow yourself to wash away the stigma about anxiety and depression.”

Topics Discussed:

🦩Prioritize taking care of your gut health

🦩How to take care of your brain like any other organ

🦩How your past experiences can hinder your fertility health

Top Step to Take When Dealing with Anxiety & Depression During Infertility with Dr. Isabel MD

Are you taking care of your brain health without any stigma? Are you truly loving yourself through your fertility journey? To overcome anxiety and depression, you have to let go of the past and any labels and start taking care of your physical health which will translate to mental health. 

  • “The physical stuff is just the representation of how much love you have for yourself.”

In this episode of the Finding Fertility podcast, we speak with Dr. Isabel, a functional medicine doctor and culinary nutritional expert at She coaches women on how to prevent and reverse disease with lifestyle medicine.

  • “If your gut health is good, your brain health is good.” 

Listen in to learn the importance of taking care of your gut health for you to have better brain health and overall health. 

Episode Highlights:

  • [2:28] Get to know Dr. Isabel and how she went from a medical doctor to a functional practitioner.
  • [3:43] She shares her experience with anxiety and depression as a woman over 40 and how it inspired her to help other women going through the same. 
  • [9:38] Stop the stigma about anxiety and depression and start taking care of your brain as an organ. 
  • [11:03] The importance of sleep when undergoing hormonal changes.
  • [11:40] How to take care of your gut health to have better brain health. 
  • [17:53] Start letting go of your past to get unstuck and welcome the future. 
  • [23:53] Take off the label, find help, and start loving yourself more.
  • [26:17] Where to find Dr. Isabel MD and her mental health resources. 

Connect with Dr. Isabel: 

Let's Do This Together 💚


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Full Transcript:

Thank you for joining me for another episode of the finding fertility podcast. I want to remind you that every Tuesday I re launch one of my favourite episodes that we've done in the past. So if you hear any funny dates, offers or even the podcasts being called the infertile diagnosis, this is why I hope you forgive me for this and enjoy the amazing content we're putting out here on the podcast. And whenever you're ready for more guided support, make sure you go over to the website and check out the fertility formula. This is where I take you through the six vital steps you need to overcome your fertility issues. The formula is an exclusive 10 week online programme packed full of everything I did to get pregnant naturally, using science backed functional medicine, you'll discover the method I take with my one to one clients without the high price tag. start boosting your fertility naturally by maximising all areas of your health today, the monthly membership includes special access to me your fertility health coach, so check it out over at the website, www dot fining backslash fertility formula. Hello beautiful and welcome to finding fertility. I'm your host, Monica Cox from finding And I created this podcast to help get you to start thinking outside of the box and realise that your infertility might have nothing to do with your lady bits rooted in functional medicine and personal experience. Finding fertility is all about looking at the whole body and finding the root cause of your infertility. Finding fertility does not diagnose, prescribe or treat any issues of infertility. But what we do is take a holistic approach and improve your diet and your lifestyle to get you steps closer to creating your dream family. Just by being here with me listening to this podcast, you're already going down the right path to making your dreams come true. Let's do this together. Happy Friday. Oh welcome back to another episode of finding fertility. We are here with Dr. Isabella. So excited to have you often. Hi. So tell us a little bit about your background.

Uh, well, I'm, I'm a medical doctor trained in Colorado, in Denver, Colorado, and if graduated 1992. And then in 2000, I realised I was not happy practising medicine as a family practice doctor in America. So I thought, let's find a place where people are doing better health care. So we moved to New Zealand in 2000. Yeah, and I've been here since then with my two children and my husband, and realise that we don't have a health care system here in New Zealand, either. We've got disease management. Yeah. So I've gone ahead and just started focusing on functional medicine.

Yeah, it's, um, a lot of my listeners know, I'm married to a kiwi. I spent almost 14 years in the United Kingdom and I grew up in America, I was actually born in Denver. And they are all disease management systems, you know, whether or not the government is paying for it is not a good system. And a lot of people are really struggling. And your specialty is anxiety and depression. Is that right? Yes. And how did you get into that?

Kind of like how you got into life happened?

Life happens?

Yeah. So um, well, in 2013, just a couple of years ago, I gave away private practice as a as a family practice doctor. And my husband and I started Dr. On a mission. And the whole goal was, you know, after seeing Dr. Mark Hyman and doing what he's doing, and he's my mentor, and I'm like, Oh, my gosh, I want to reach more people want to help more people. Um, my husband and I decided, okay, let's just start Dr. On a mission. And so in 2013, I was excited about doing a brand new business and then after a year, I was 54. And I found myself not only as a doctor, a wife, a mother, a brand new entrepreneur, which you're not taught how to be an entrepreneur and medical training, but I was also menopausal, and I didn't even realise I was menopause. i Here i am a family practice doctor functional medicine doctor, and I didn't even realise I was menopausal. So I just became so overwhelmed and anxious about everything. And I felt like I had way too much on my plate, which I did. But that's okay. Because that's just the way we roll, right?

Yeah. Yeah. A lot of women a lot of type A women, right? Yeah. And

I am and I'm sorry, but I'm not because I got a lot to do before I go away, you know? So, and then I felt hopeless. And I can only laugh about this now because I'm way over on the other side. But what had happened in 2014 and September 2014, is I, for 17 nights, I only slept three hours, every night, for 17 nights. And by the end of those that 17 day period, I tried to take my life twice in three days. Because I felt like I was a burden on people, my family was going to be like, what, what use are you You know, like, I'm not good enough, that whole idea. And by the grace of God, that plan was stopped. And my husband took me to see my pastors who I love. And they helped me get to medical care, which, as a medical doctor, I didn't want to go to medical care, because I knew that I could lose my licence, I knew that they could take the love of my life, which is being a medical doctor, away from me. But I saw the psychiatrist and the psychiatrist said, Isabel, I'm going to give you some medicine. They gave me an antidepressant, and an anti psychotic, which is very typical for women in the 50s. And in their 40s. And the he said, You're going to need to be on this medicine for the rest of your life. And look, I'll tell you, Monica, I surrendered. I did whatever I needed to do to go to sleep because I just wanted to sleep, you know, not sleeping is torture, if you've ever experienced that. And so, but when he said is about you're going to be on this for the rest of your life, I said, Yep, whatever you say, Doc, the deep down inside. I said, We'll see about that. So then I slept. And fast forward. My husband, I went on a five year journey, so much like what you and your husband went on, you know, and I just was like, Okay, I'm gonna figure this out. Because I know how we're doing it in medicine. Yeah, for anxiety and depression. And I know it's not working. Yeah, cuz I'm in it now. And now I really know how people feel. And so I got pissed. Yeah, yeah, I got so pissed off. That this is the way the health care system is for mental health. Because it's not about mental health. It's about brain health and learning how to take care of our brain. So anyway, I went on a five year journey with my husband spent a lot of money made a lot of mistakes. And finally came off my, my antidepressant my anti-psychotics safely, because there's a way to do it safely. And now I'm way over on the other end, and I'm like, oh, yeah, that's, that's this is how we do it. This is how we do it by Anna Anna. And so now that's, that's what I'm doing is helping women have achieved freedom from anxiety and or depression?

Yeah, yeah. I know, during fertility struggles, you don't have to come to the plate with anxiety and depression. But for most of us, we deal with it at some point in our journey. But I the more I work with people, the more I feel that they actually were dealing with anxiety and depression, and the infertility just compounded it. And a lot of them do, they go to the doctors, oh, here's a pill. And when you're trying to conceive a baby, whether you're into holistic stuff or not, you know that being on this medication can't be a great thing for your baby. You know, like, let alone yourself but you as a mama bear, you start prepping yourself, you're like, No, this isn't right. What would be some really good tips? Maybe from your own journey or what you teach and you know, help people do now in your practice to kind of start moving away from that medication.

Okay, well, there's a lot that can be done and everybody you know, I break it down into mind, body and spirit. And if we can just realise number one is realise you're not you're not a bad person because you're going through this. Yeah, it's your brain is not working right. That's it. It's all about brain health. And if you just allow yourself to wash away the stigma about anxiety and depression, that's number one, because it's going to happen, you know, talking about anxiety and depression will happen, and it won't be so taboo. So just realise, I don't have anxiety and depression, I've just got a brain health issue, and learn to take care of your brain and be super kind to your brain. Because you know, as a doctor, if you come to me and you're having a heart attack, well, then guess what I will send you to the cardiologist who really specialises in taking care of the heart. Well, if you come to me, or to a brain, dot, you know, to a psychiatrist, they really need to be looking at your brain as an organ that needs to be taken good care of. Yeah, so just that's number one is just wash away the taboo, that you're sick that you're you're crazy, because you're not crazy. You are good enough, you just got a brain health issue. Number two is man, sleep is so important. And it's not easy. It's not easy, especially for us women, when we're going through hormones, and we're going through hormones in our 20s 30s 40s 50s and 60s. It's a never ending. It's a never ending experience of you're good for two weeks of the month, then you go bad for two weeks of the month. And it just just so you know, the ride gets super wild. When you go perimenopause, just letting you know. Get your sleep down. And then um, God health is so key. Because if your gut health is good, your brain health and you teach all this, I mean, you know, I've been on a podcast with you, you I've interviewed you, your gut health is Number Number one, if you can just get your gut health. Right,

right. So go a little bit into that brain gut connection, because it's a fairly new thing, right? Like for most of all of our lives, there's never been a connection. No one's ever talked about it. And now all of a sudden, it's like, no, you got to take care of your gut to take care of your brain. Can you just give us a little bit of background in that?

Sure. Well, your your gut is your second brain. And I know people know that they've heard that. And you and I have heard that over and over again. But your gut is your second brain. Why? Because it creates neuro chemicals called serotonin and dopamine and serotonin and dopamine make us happy. And if we don't have our gut health under control, then guess what? dopamine and serotonin aren't going to be in good, good levels in your brain. And if that's not happening, you will experiencing anxiety, you will experience problems sleeping. Your gut health is, um, gosh, it's just bacteria, good and bad bacteria that need to learn how to live together. And there's so many things that we do on a daily basis, to cause insult to our gut with, like, for instance, eating. When people work with me to Oh, to be to get freedom from anxiety and depression, I put them on I highly encourage because I can't do anything I can't force them to do anything is go dairy free, gluten free, sugar free. Yeah. And that will help so much of the leaky gut issue. And also, I know that the dairy, if you can just get rid of the dairy women sleep a lot better. And there's so much good dairy that you can have like you can have. I mean, I'm talking no dairy, but if you are so hooked on milk, then you can start making coconut milk or almond milk. There's ways to switch off like my husband is the nutritional chef at here a doctor on a mission. So he teaches people how to do that. Yeah. And I always encourage people to learn what is upsetting your gut health, like antibiotics. So many people are on this medication called Pelisek or lowsec. For gastro esophageal reflux, the reflux I'm like, That ruins your gut, it punches holes in your gut. So learning to love. I mean, there's a lot of organs that I love and my body your liver is like so important, but your gut. I just have a love relationship. Yeah. It's a love story with my gut, and other people's gut. And so I do a lot of complete microbiome testing is what I do here in New Zealand and Australia. And it just helps you understand what good bacteria are happening. What bad bacteria do you have parasites, do you have worms? Do you have Candida? You know, do you have H Pylori h pylori in your gut? Oh my gosh, that increases your risk of gastric cancer. Well, there's ways of healing that Uh, without the antibiotics? Yes. You know. So gut testing is so important.

Yeah, I mean, it's my number one go to TESTS over here too. And I just kind of like dumb it down for people. I know, my, my community is highly educated. But it's like, think about it, your gut has to handle everything, everything you put into it, it has to handle that. And then if it doesn't, if it handles it, well, it shoots it out very nicely everywhere else. If it handles it bad, it shoots it out bad everywhere else. So your gut is connected to everything, because it's the master controller, right? Like, it's just when you really think about it. It's just so simple. Like, it's the most complex thing ever. Like sometimes I read stuff. I'm like, this is way, luck. I like this is way beyond me. But if you just get back to basics is simple. Yes, a course whatever you put into your mouth goes to your gut and your gut then gives it out to the rest of it. Right. So I think it's the number one thing and my clients and I know your clients specifically come to you for anxiety and depression. Mine are dealing with all that. But obviously, their main focus is pregnancy. And I get them to list out okay, what are your top health complaints? And sometimes it is the anxiety and depression. I'm like, Okay, we're going to monitor that as we heal your gut. And they're just so shocked. I just had one client that she's like, I didn't expect it, but my ADHD has greatly improved, Mike. Yeah. Yeah.

Oh, yeah. So true. Dr. Ayman wrote this book called The End of mental illness, and he talks about getting taken care of your, your gut health will help so much with your brain health. It's just, it's gonna be normal. Yeah, it's gonna be normal in the future. It's just you, you know, you and I, and the other people in the world are just breaking ground. So we always look like the crazy ones. But there's a lot of research out there. Dr. David Perlmutter is doing the research. You know, Dr. Ame, and my mentor, they're all my, they're all my mentors, because they're pioneering ahead of me.

Yeah, exactly. When it comes to, okay, we got the gut health, they know that now, when it comes to the kind of physical triggers around you that maybe trigger your anxiety trigger your depression, your past traumas. Do you in your practice, talk about how trauma doesn't have to be this big, catastrophic event? It could be something that was big to you. And that could be triggering some of the physical ailments in you. Do you dive into that stuff? Oh,

yeah. Yeah, come on. Yeah, that's called adverse childhood experiences. And Annie Hopper, if you have you ever heard of Annie hopper? No, no, they can have oh my gosh, she had a terrible experience with chemicals. And that triggered her past experience. And anyway, she's, she's written a great book wired for healing. And she's got a great online course, for women, for men and women called D. N. R. S, dynamic neural retraining system. It's an online course. And I learned about it because I was like, I am going to figure this out. Yeah. This came up in a functional medicine. I was listening to an interview, I think she was talking to Dr. Dale Bredesen, and who wrote the book, the end of Alzheimer's. And she was talking about, you just got to rewire your brain. You just got to rewire your brain. I was like, I'm gonna rewire my brain. And I took her course. And it made me realise that's my past. Yeah, I'm not my past. I can I can live a new life, I can move forward from what has happened to me. And so I just want to give your listeners hope that whatever happened in your past, guess what? Your Future has no room for your past stuff. And you can get healed you can learn how to go. But I Yeah, matter of fact, my husband and I were at church just two days ago, and our beautiful pastor pastor Kent was saying, Have you let go of your past, and I just started crying. And I know that when I started crying, that means you've struck a nerve. Yeah, my heart centre. And he was talking and talking because you got to let go of what's happened. So you can grab hold of what's ahead. And he said, you know, and then he talked about his story, and he didn't go into great detail, but it was enough to let me know. Wow. And so I turned to my husband, I go, Okay, we gotta go to we gotta go to the beach because we live really close to the beach like 10 minutes away. Thank you, God and I Go, I'm gonna give some rocks and I've got to like, I've got to dig a hole in the sand and let Leave that stuff because some terrible things have happened since my suicide attempts, you know, I thought that was big enough, but a lot more happened. I was like, how strong Do you want me to be for this journey? So anyway, but um, through it all. And so my husband was like, what, what are the answers, but he caught on like what we needed to do. So we went to the beach, and I had these rocks, I had like six rocks, and I planted I dug a hole, and he dug his hole and we put it in, and we covered it up, and we set a prayer. And that's, that's gone. Like, yeah, that's gone, that stuff is gone. Even, it didn't even have to happen in your childhood, it could have happened in the last five years, it could have happened in the last three weeks. But if you don't let go of that stuff, it's like baggage, like it's like carrying suitcases along. So to give your peeps hope, there is an online course that people can do called the d n r s, dynamic neural retraining system. And I am not connected to any kind of money return on this, but it's just, it helps me so much. Yeah, to get unstuck,

to get unstuck any age. Yeah. And I think a lot of my listeners are ready to move on from the labelling. I mean, you, you spoke about it about the first thing about ditching the label, that anxiety and depression can be put on you. And we have a really big issue with the fertility community of labelling themselves in fertile. And they call themselves in fertile all the time, they say I can't get pregnant, you know, they, they use this language. And I was I did too, you know, I'm not saying that I didn't do this. But that was like a big turning point in my journey, when I started saying, When I get pregnant, not if I get pregnant, and really shifting that mindset. And I have now since because as you know, as an entrepreneur, it opens up a whole new can of worms. That what I was saying, and my beliefs that got built in me and my childhood, were hindering my healing my physical healing process, and and my spiritual healing process. And for some women that can cause you know, contribute to the fertility problems.

Absolutely. Yeah. Absolutely. It can stop you from moving forward in whatever you're trying to achieve.

Yeah, exactly. And it's, it's all linked together. And there's, I'm sure you take your clients through many steps, right, many goals, to get to the ultimate goal, because it's a long journey. Sometimes, you know, some people can just do a few little different things in their lives changed or they're pregnant. Right. And then for some of us, it does take years, it does take a lot to to get there because we didn't realise our damage was so deep.

Well said Monica. Really? I Yeah. Because we're just taught to carry on, carry on. Yeah, carry on. You know, don't don't don't sweat the small stuff, like they say here in New Zealand or she'll be right, mate. Yeah, she'll be right, mate. Yeah, but we've got the highest rate of suicide in the world. Yeah,

it's crazy, isn't it? It's not. Yeah. Give our listeners your top tip. If there was one action set that they can take today to really help start shifting that anxiety and depression and moving away from it. What would you say?

Take off the label. You're crazy. Yeah, take it off. Throw it away. It's a post it that somebody put on you. Take it off. It's not super glued on you. Take it off and find the help. You are worth it. I see you I hear you I know that place you're worth it. Yeah 100% in yourself to take that because you've got so much to give in this world. You're a woman you've got heart. You know, we know how to love the world. We know how to love children. We start learning and we need to learn to love ourselves. Yeah.

I Yeah. 100% I didn't realise how much I didn't love myself through my fertility journey. And it was a bit shocking because most people wouldn't have said that about me. You know like you put you learn to put on a big competence base don't you vague like I'm fine face and the Yeah, the self love and I think what the self love and the self worth comes with. You start doing the physical action steps that maybe you hadn't been able to do before, because the physical stuff is just a representation of how much love you have for yourself how you love yourself enough to put in the work to change the diet, to go to the meetings to get the seek the help to do the meditation to do the yoga to do the journaling. Those are acts of love towards yourself. And the more self love you have the more self worth, the more you start telling people No, I'm going to take care of myself. Yeah,

I you know, I just had like a visual a vision of what we could give our listeners to, is that we all have calendars. So get yourself your own calendar, you know, and get those little smiley stickers. And when you're being nice to yourself, it's not going to be every day because you know, you have to unlearn stuff. But once every day, at the end of the day when you've learned to be nice to yourself, like say, Isabel, I love you. Or Monica, I love you. You're doing awesome. You go girl, put a smiley sticker on that day. Now, it's not gonna be every day. But over the years, you'll learn you'll see wow, I've learned, you know, so it's a visual.

Yeah. Thank you so much for coming out. And it's been such a pleasure to speak with you can you tell our listeners where they can find you?

Sure, I'd love for the ladies to come and join the shame free anxiety and depression community for women. It's a private Facebook group, where my husband and I are just there teaching people have to love their brain and overcome anxiety and depression and just have no shame about it. And so that'll be the link

in Yeah, I'll put the link in the show notes for everyone. And then there's also our

website, Dr. On But that'll be in the show notes. Okay.

Yeah. Well, it was such a pleasure to meet you and connect with you. And thank you so much for sharing your story. So honestly and openly and giving people hope that they if they ever are in that place, that there is the help out there. And not just pills as well. Someone who's going to listen and know their personal, you know, experience and what they're feeling. So thank you so much for that.

My pleasure, honey. All right, see you later. Bye.

Thank you once again for tuning in to the finding fertility podcast. If you're loving this podcast, please leave us a rating in review and let us know how this podcast is supporting you to get steps closer to creating your dream family. I hope you have a beautiful weekend and we will see you next Friday for another episode of the finding fertility podcast

Connect with Monica over on:

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Anything written or said about health and diet are my opinions, that I have formed over the years, through trial and error, study, reading, listening and observing. What worked for me may not work for you. I am not a doctor, nutritionist or dietician and all medical advice should be gotten from a qualified professional. Product recommendations are based on what I used during my infertility journey or wish I had.


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