Holistic Practitioner Spotlight with Dr. Jodie Skillicorn, an Integrative Physician, on Her Approach to Depression
We are speaking with Jodie Skillicorn, DO, ABIHM , who believes strongly in the body’s innate healing powers. In her practice, she combines mindfulness-based psychotherapy with a variety of complementary modalities that assist the healing process.
Tell Us a Story About a Patient Who Suffered From Depression and How You Helped
I happened to meet Molly for the first time the day after she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. She had initially made the appointment in hopes of finding some solution for a lifetime of chronic, low grade depression. At the initial appointment, however, she was mostly focused on this recent and devastating diagnosis. She blamed herself for being so “stupid” for letting herself become a diabetic. She was understandably distraught and feeling hopeless to be told she had a chronic irreversible disease requiring medications for life.
Molly, like so many with depression, had experienced a sad, lonely childhood. She had learned at an early age to turn to food for the nurturing and comfort she was not receiving at home and to numb the uncomfortable feelings she did not want to face. She worked long hours at work always trying to please those around her, always putting herself and her needs last.
What had your patient tried before seeking you out?
Molly had tried medications and talk therapy over the years with no results. She was seeking another way, as she had run out of options.
How did you arrive at your course of treatment?
After listening to her story, we re-framed the story to one of hope. We discussed how neither her diabetes nor depression were irreversible. The body is designed to heal if given the resources. She was not a powerless victim of her genetics, her brain, and a faulty pancreas. The diabetes and depression were simply signs that she had to make changes and the diabetes diagnosis offered a powerful incentive to do so.
We talked about how stress and inflammation are root causes of both diabetes and depression and by learning skills to better manage her stress and making healthier food and lifestyle choices she could heal.
What modalities or therapies did you implement and what was the outcome of the services you provided?
First, I taught her to breathe deeply into her belly so that she could calm her chronically hyper-vigilant nervous system.
Then we explored her dietary patterns. She started taking turmeric, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D3 to reduce inflammation and improve her mood. We also added a multivitamin with L-methylfolate, since we had discovered she had a MTHFR genetic mutation making it more difficult for her to convert the folate and folic acid found in foods and supplements to the active L-methylfolate needed by the body.
She started off by committing to one hike and cooking three whole foods meals a week. Soon Molly was enthusiastically hiking every weekend with her husband as they explored new parks and trails together. She eliminated processed, sugary foods and was having fun finding new recipes to try out.
Within a couple months she was free of depressive symptoms for the first time since her teen and adult life. She began standing up for herself and setting limits at work to protect the time she needed for her health and healing. She stopped smoking. Her relationship with her husband strengthened as they hiked and played together. On top of all that, her blood glucose levels decreased to normal levels, so she no longer required medication for her diabetes.
Why and When Did You Choose the Holistic Path?
I started off as a photojournalist, working at newspapers and then attending graduate school for visual communications. During my last week in grad school, while looking for a book to read, I picked up Christiane Northrup’s book, “Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom”. Her mind-body-spirit approach to medicine enthralled and called to me. I called my parents and told them THIS is what I wanted to do.
They reasonably suggested perhaps I should work for a while first — which I did. After a couple years working at a newspaper, I began to feel like a vulture waiting for road kill. I left the paper and worked for a year at an alternative school for at risk kids. During that year many of the kids, especially the girls, came to me with health and emotional issues and concerns. I remembered the book and the call to move in that direction.
I returned to school and then medical school. Along the way I was slowly indoctrinated into the idea of a pill being the answer to every problem. I learned about disease, forgetting about health. I lost sight of why I had started down this path in the first place, until I developed health problems and was diagnosed with Grave’s disease, an autoimmune condition of the thyroid similar to the more common Hashimoto’s, but instead of my thyroid being sluggish it was revved way up.
Conventional medicine offered me pills that made me feel sicker, and finally recommended that my thyroid be obliterated with radioactive iodine. Fortunately, a holistic practitioner I had rotated with, reached out and offered a holistic, integrative approach, which resolved my symptoms within a few weeks. This experience made me remember the shortcomings of conventional medicine for chronic issues and that other possibilities existed.
The rest of medical school and residency would continue to be a process of forgetting and remembering why I had started down this path, and integrating, with research and discrimination, those tools in conventional and holistic medicine that could best help my patients
What Lessons Have Your Work and Personal Experiences Taught You?
I am continuously reminded of the amazing resilience of humans to survive, and the astonishing capacity of the body and mind to heal when given tools, support, nourishment, and hope.
In my practice, I combine mindfulness-based psychotherapy with a variety of complementary modalities that assist the healing process. These may include mindfulness, breath-work, yoga, energy psychology, energy medicine, guided imagery, biofeedback, exercise, EMDR, hypnotherapy, auricular acupuncture, nutrition and supplements.
My passion is in guiding, supporting and teaching my patients self-care techniques that help balance their bodies and minds, thus empowering them to take an active role in their own unique healing journeys on the road to optimal health. These skills may also help in reducing and often eliminating the need for medications.
Jodie Skillicorn, DO, ABIHM is a holistic psychiatrist and author, who believes strongly in the body’s innate healing powers.
- Graduated from the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Is Board Certified in Psychiatry
- Is a Diplomate of the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine (ABIHM).
- Completed a Psychiatry Residency at Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacology (NEOUCOM).
Dr. Skillicorn is the author of the book, Healing Depression without Medications: A Psychiatrist’s Guide to Balancing Mind, Body, and Soul, which will be released March 17, 2020.
Jodie Skillicorn, DO
Holistic Psychiatrist & Author
Stow, OH USA
View other holistic practitioners like Dr. Skillicorn in our Holistic Health Directory
As holistic dentists, we've recommended products and services that supported our patients’ health for decades. In experiencing our own health challenges from mercury toxicity, we worked closely with many natural, alternative, and integrative health practitioners who aided our recovery as well as our patients’. We built this site to provide you with a simple-to-use, comprehensive, informational, and functional resource for your physical, emotional, and spiritual health & well-being.