Anxiety & Stress

Handle your anxiety, depression and stress naturally, with Root Cause Medicine

In honor of the launch of our new name, Root Cause Medical Clinic, I wanted to write about the most common complaints patients come in to see us about and what we do that is so effective and different from what most other clinicians do.

Sometimes I don’t realize how unique our thought process is until I’m speaking to a patient about their problems and frustrations regarding their health. This was one of the reasons we changed our name; we have always discussed our approach of “getting to the root cause” with our patients, and we have found the concept is not only instantly comprehended for its meaning, but most realize they have never been evaluated from that viewpoint before. When they hear how root cause medicine works and experience the thought process as we review through their personal health history, one for one they feel it makes sense. And once they learn of our success rate, they are excited to begin the program.

Statistics regarding anxiety and stress:

  • The National Institute of Mental Health states anxiety disorders affect 18% of adults in the U.S. but more current estimates state that closer to 30% of U.S. adults are afflicted with anxiety when you consider the number of individuals who don’t seek help or are misdiagnosed.
  • Anxiety disorders cost the U.S. more than $42 billion each year.
  • According to the World Health Organization, mental disorders in developed countries account for more disability than any other group of illnesses, including cancer and heart disease.
  • The lifetime prevalence of mental illness in the U.S. was around 50%.
  • It’s estimated 43% of North Americans take mood altering prescriptions regularly. Paxil and Zoloft, two of the most popular anti-anxiety medications ranked in the top 10 of all medications prescribed in the U.S. with sales totaling $5 billion.
  • Anxiety disorders are twice as common as clinical depression.
  • A 2017 report from the American Institute of Stress cites numerous studies revealing job stress to be the major source of stress for American adults. Its incidence has escalated over the past few decades.
  • The price tag of job stress is over $300 billion per year.

Anxiety, stress and depression are very common

Anxiety, stress, depression and mood swings are common problems. In fact, of all the problems new patients present with, these rank 4th , only after pain, digestive problems (including overweight) and headaches.

As practitioners of Root Cause Medicine, symptoms such as anxiety and stress are interesting because often they can be the result of a problem rather than the cause. It can be difficult at times for the patient to make the determination of cause vs. effect because anxiety, depression and mood swings can be disabling and overwhelming.

Traditional medicine treats these symptoms liberally with drugs. The problem with such drugs, beyond their life threatening side effects, is they do not get to the underlying root cause of the problem. If you ask your doctor how long he or she expects you to take the medication, you’ll often hear that you might need it forever.

I well remember a gentleman, a highly intelligent engineer, who came to us seeking weight loss. He never mentioned his anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder. Once we began our root cause program he began to feel better. He returned to his psychiatrist and explained that he was getting healthier, feeling much better and was wondering if he could begin to taper down on some of the 7 psychiatric medications he was on. Yes, he was on 7 different medications for his “mental diseases”.

His psychiatrist refused to even entertain such a notion, and explained to the patient he would be on these medications for the rest of his life. The patient then relayed this conversation to us and we were able to begin the tapering process. As you can imagine, 7 different medications took a while. But through addressing the true root cause of his problem, a problem that was affecting his brain and nervous system, we were, over the course of many months, able to wean him off each and every one of his 7 different psychiatric medications.

Has he sustained this improvement in his health? Yes. He keeps in touch on occasion, and at our last meeting he was still taking no medication and feeling great.

Is this an unusual scenario? Not at all. We regularly are able to wean patients off psychiatric drugs once the actual root cause has been addressed.

Another problem I see, almost daily with new patients, is they have been prescribed psychiatric medication for stress, anxiety, depression and PTSD, when they don’t believe they need it. This may sound odd to you but I assure you it is extremely common. Patients relay that upon seeing their primary care physician or a specialist, they are “diagnosed” with PTSD, or anxiety, or depression and handed a prescription. Their response to me is very often: “I don’t feel depressed/anxious. I told my doctor that but they gave me the prescription anyway.”

It’s not only distressing to know how many people are being prescribed dangerous psychiatric medications who don’t need them, but it’s equally distressing that the true root cause of their problem remains undiagnosed and untreated.

Do some people have anxiety or mood swings as their primary symptom? Absolutely. Does that mean they need psychiatric medication? No. Studies reveal, year after year, that such medications do not cure anything, placebos work as well, and the risk of dangerous side effects outweighs potential benefits.

If you’re reading this and you take such a drug and feel better, I’m not negating that you do. What I am saying is this: in our experience, once the true root cause of your anxiety, depression stress or mood swings is discovered, the likelihood of being able to get weaned of the medication is quite good.

What does Traditional Medicine say is the cause?

The causes are many when it comes to anxiety, depression and stress. Traditional medicine has this to say:

WebMD: The cause of anxiety disorders is unknown. They go on to say “many of these disorders are caused by a combination of factors, including changes in the brain and environmental stress”.

Mayo Clinic is similarly vague: “The causes of anxiety disorders aren’t fully understood. Life experiences appear to trigger anxiety disorders in people who are already prone to anxiety. Inherited traits also can be a factor.”

How do you feel about being told you have a health condition for which there is no known cause? It’s a bit discouraging, to say the least. Especially when it’s a problem that impacts you day in and day out, affecting your very ability to function in life.

Anxiety, depression and stress can affect your interactions with friends, family, coworkers and impact your ability to achieve your goals in life.

Here at Root Cause Medical Clinic we are not in agreement there is no cause; in fact, quite the contrary. Below you will see a list of potential causes, all of which can be addressed. I’m happy to say we have excellent success treating anxiety, depression, stress and mood swings utilizing Root Cause Medicine. Our program works and utilizes no dangerous psychiatric drugs.

Root Cause Medicine pinpoints underlying causes

In Root Cause Medicine, we have found many conditions play a role in the causation of anxiety, depression and stress. They include:

  • Fatigue
  • Adrenal exhaustion
  • Thyroid imbalance
  • Foot sensitivities
  • Malabsorption/ Maldigestion
  • Leaky gut
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Menopause
  • Pain
  • Infections/toxins
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Inflammation

If you wish to know more specifics regarding how each one can of the above affects mood, I have gone into further detail below. Otherwise you can skip the italicized section and read on!

  • Fatigue – if you’re overly tired, your mood will reflect it, but it tends to be a secondary reaction to the actual cause of the fatigue rather than the primary cause. To learn what the root cause medicine does for fatigue, go here.
  • Adrenal exhaustion – when the adrenal gland, your stress gland, malfunctions, it affects mood, your stress response and hormonal balance. To learn more about the adrenal glands and the root cause medicine approach, go here.
  • Thyroid imbalance –the thyroid is part of the system that makes hormones, directly affecting mood and anxiety levels. The thyroid doesn’t need to be diseased in order to affect the sex hormones, mood and stress. Root cause medicine looks at the thyroid more sensitively and can rebalance it before disease has occurred.
  • Food sensitivities – food is fuel as well as information. If you’re eating a food you react to you, will often feel it in your nervous system and brain before you’ll experience any digestive problems. That’s pretty counter-intuitive I know. You would think a food reaction would manifest itself in the digestive tract first and exclusively. It makes sense, but it’s just not how the human body works. Having food sensitivities is common and will often affect mood, stress levels and emotions first.
  • Malabsorption / Maldigestion – the digestive tract is responsible for turning what you eat into viable fuel. Fuel that feeds the 10 trillion cells of the body. These cells reside everywhere, including your brain. If malabsorption or maldigestion is occurring, food is not turning into appropriate fuel and the result can be imbalanced mood and heightened stress.
  • Leaky gut – this relates to what we said about malabsorption and maldigestion above. Leaky gut is an additional reason your food is not turning into absorbable energy and fueling all the cells of your body, including your brain.
  • Hiatal hernia – if you’ve never heard of this you’re in good company, but having a hiatal hernia is a very common causes of panic attacks and anxiety. To learn more about hiatal hernia, read this or watch this video.
  • Hormonal imbalance – we have mentioned the thyroid and the adrenal glands above, but in addition to those causes both men and women, of all ages, can suffer from sex hormone imbalance. If you’re a woman who has ever had PMS or you’re a man or woman who has ever known a woman who experiences PMS, you understand how the ebb and flow of hormones can cause someone’s emotional state to alter dramatically. Men are not immune to this phenomenon; they too can suffer hormonal imbalance that affects their mood and stress levels.
  • Menopause – while a natural chapter of a woman’s life, menopause should not result in dramatically decreased levels of sex hormones. The transition into menopause is supposed to be the ovary’s way of “signing off” and signaling childbearing years are behind one. However, the brain and adrenal glands are designed to “take over” the hormonal production for the rest of a woman’s life. If a woman goes through menopause around 50, she has only reached the halfway point of her life. Due to faulty adrenal gland function, poor digestive health and a variety of factors, many women lose a degree of emotional stability, mental clarity, memory, libido and overall vitality when they go through menopause. This is not normal and does not have to occur!
  • Pain – if you’ve ever been in pain for a period of time, you know how draining it can be. Hormone balance and stress levels are affected by pain, creating mood alterations. Handling the underlying cause of physical pain is one of the reasons we have both chiropractic and physical therapy care as part of our team of doctors. Working with the physical aspect of your health is integral to hormonal and mood balance.
  • Infections / toxins – the immune system is affected by any infectious or toxic agents. The human immune system, in the main, is located within your gut, thereby everything we’ve mentioned about gut health and its impact on hormonal balance, brain function and stress applies here as well.
  • Autoimmune disease – in autoimmune disease, the most common of which is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, although there are over 100 in total, the immune system has become so overtaxed as to confuse your body for a foreign invader. As previously mentioned, the human immune system is primarily housed in the gut, therefore we put our efforts on normalizing gut health. The gut, known as the second brain, intimately affects the brain, hormones and stress levels.
  • Inflammation – we know inflammation is the root cause of all degenerative diseases and, as mentioned above, it is a product of the human immune system. Don’t get inflammation wrong, there is both a good and bad side to it. It is chronic inflammation that is a causative factor in the degenerative diseases we are trying to avoid. Inflammation, when present chronically, not only creates degenerative disease, but is a known cause of depression and stress.

While it is a long list, no item on it is difficult to handle. The key is diagnosing what is at the root of your symptoms of stress or anxiety. We not only are able to get to the root of the problem, but if you’re already on a psychiatric drug we typically are able to successfully wean you off it without you feeling any withdrawal symptoms.

Patients who have tried to wean off their psychiatric drugs unsuccessfully are sometimes baffled why it’s so easy after they have done our program. The reason is quite simple. Once we’ve addressed the root cause, there is no further need for the effects the drug creates. The underlying problem has been addressed, the body is now balanced, and removing the drug is then rather effortless.

Have you ever been to a traditional doctor complaining of stress, anxiety, depression or mood swings? Here’s what likely happened:

  1. The doctor ran a blood test(s) to rule out any disease process.
  2. If the labs came back negative your doctor likely said you are suffering from a mental imbalance and you require psychiatric medication such as an anti-anxiety or anti-depressant drug.


Here’s what a Root Cause Medicine doctor will do for you:

First, an extensive history is performed – very extensive. We ask questions about your stress level, sleep hours, food preferences and cravings, digestive symptoms, any hormonal imbalance symptoms, exercise schedule, and a great deal more.

Based on an extensive history, examination, and our knowledge of getting to the underlying root cause, we begin to get an idea of what might be the problem. This hypothesis will be borne out by functional and traditional lab tests, as required.

By the way, if you’ve ever been frustrated at lab tests that fail to show anything is wrong when your gut tells you there’s a problem, you’ll love Functional Lab tests – they are much more sensitive and WILL reveal the actual problem.

What Root Cause Medicine appreciates is that anxiety, depression, stress and mood swings actually mean an imbalance or imbalances, plural. The list of causes above gives you an idea of what might be underlying your symptoms.

Once we have diagnosed the root cause(s), we get to work correcting each and every one of them. We have discovered these underlying causes through working with patients for over 25 years. The process does not need to be long, even if you have suffered for a long time, and it involves no dangerous drugs.

It never ceases to delight me how willing the body is to heal itself once you provide for it the correct tools.

I can’t tell you how many new patients I see, who have suffered for years with anxiety, depression, stress and mood swings, but have been given no solution. When the body is provided the right solution, it will heal.

If I were to give you the top 3 most common causes we find it would be:

  1. Food sensitivities
  2. Adrenal fatigue and hormonal imbalance
  3. Digestion imbalance, including intestinal infections

If you want to learn more about the adrenal glands, read Fatigue and Root Cause Medicine. To learn more about hormonal imbalance, read Hormonal Imbalance and Root Cause Medicine.  And if you want to delve deeper into digestion, read Digestive Problems and Root Cause Medicine. You can also type in any specific terms under “search” and find a variety of blogs on the topic you’re interested in.

It may seem strange or odd that what you eat and how your digestive tract functions can affect you mood. Part of the problem with traditional medicine, in my opinion, is a lack of appreciation of how all parts of the human body are integrated.

No part of your body works in a vacuum. Your digestive tract is called “the second brain” due to its close association with how we function mentally. Your digestive tract is responsible for processing your food, turning it into fuel. If your food is not turning into good fuel, no part of your body will work properly.

You wouldn’t be surprised if your car wouldn’t move if it was out of gas, would you?

Have you ever been moody or cranky because you needed to eat? Then you have experienced how lack of proper fuel can affect you emotionally. Food sensitivities result in the food you eat NOT turning into proper fuel. So even though you have eaten, it’s as if you haven’t, and mood swings, anxiety, and more can be the result.

What is frustrating about the traditional medical model is they miss these root cause problems the majority of the time. Why? Quite simply, our medical model is based on disease and it tends to focus its efforts on the area of complaint. When we mention adrenal fatigue we are not talking about adrenal disease. When we speak of digestive and hormonal malfunction, we are not speaking of disease. We are speaking of malfunction, and malfunction of body parts is not what traditional medicine looks for; it is not something it considers to be a problem; it is not something they utilize lab tests to measure.

Let me ask you something: Would you rather find out about a problem when it’s at the malfunction state and resolution is completely available to you, or would you rather wait, be told you’re fine because you don’t yet have a disease, and only be offered assistance once you do?

Do you have anxiety, stress or depression? Contact us here for a FREE consultation or give us a call at 408-733-0400.

Sensitive lab tests capable of evaluating organ malfunction, not just disease, DO exist. They are called functional lab tests and we’ve been utilizing them for about 15 years. They are not widely available but they are accepted by insurance and not terribly expensive. The beauty of them is they are able to diagnose malfunction, long before disease has begun. And of course that’s what we’d all like to do – catch something when it’s still able to be fully corrected.

Too often, as I mentioned above, traditional medicine is quick to “pull the trigger” on anxiety or depression as their sole diagnosis when no disease process can be found. It would be one thing, perhaps, if they utilized natural therapies, but instead they prescribe dangerous psychiatric medication with life threatening side effects.

If you’ve ever experienced anxiety, stress, depression or mood swings, you know quite well that it’s difficult to even fake being “upbeat and happy”. You aren’t yourself; you aren’t as productive as you want to be; you often feel you are letting down your significant other, children, and/or coworkers. It’s a bad feeling.

Please know this: there IS a root cause for anxiety, stress and depression. Finding the true cause is not difficult if you have the right tools at your disposal and know the right questions to ask of the body. We do just that.

The program is completely natural; no drugs or surgery.

If you’ve been suffering from anxiety, stress and depression for a long time, this may sound unbelievable; I understand. But if you’ve never been evaluated from a root cause medicine approach, the solution to your problem could be truly within your grasp.

Do you have anxiety, stress or depression? Contact us here for a FREE consultation or give us a call at 408-733-0400.

As clinicians it’s our job to explain the best route to achieve the goal of handling stress and balancing mood. This may mean handling adrenal function, digestion or balancing hormones first.

We explain how root cause medicine works at our first meeting and it is for this reason every new patient receives a free initial consultation. We want each and every patient to have an ability to meet with us and understand our approach before they pay for any visits.

We want success with our patients as much as they want to be successful. This is a team approach. We don’t just hand our patients a pill, far from it. We work extensively together to change diet, lifestyle, repair faulty organ function and more. This doesn’t happen overnight and it won’t occur without help. Therefore we like to ensure each and every patient is ready to embark upon the adventure to regain, retain and reclaim their health with a clear understanding that it will require some work and change on their part. But they won’t be alone; we are right there with them.

As we like to say, with patient compliance, success is all but assured.

Do you need help with stress, anxiety, depression or mood swings? Do you know someone who does? If so please share this with them.

Contact us for a FREE phone or in-person consultation, or call us at 408-733-0400.

We help the world’s busiest people regain, retain and reclaim their health, energy and resilience. We can help you!


To reclaiming your best health,

Dr. Vikki Petersen DC, CCN
IFM Certified Practitioner
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Author of “The Gluten Effect”
Author of eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You!”

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