About Dr. Russell

“You will need to be on this medication for the rest of your life” are words no one wants to hear. When I was told that by a psychiatrist at the age of ten, I resigned myself to that temporary fate  but deep down I knew that I would not let this be true.

But as a ten year old child who has gone through a year of counseling without success and is diagnosed with major depression and OCD, you feel like you start running out of options. I would cry myself to sleep at night. I became obsessed with death and dying. A far cry from the normal antics of the average ten year old.

My parents opted for medication because it was the only option presented to them, and thus we began that journey.  What started with Zoloft for a few years (and all the lovely side effects), was eventually substituted with another, and then another, ending up with a literal page-long list of failed pharmaceuticals. While some may have provided temporary relief by numbing all my emotions (I honestly can’t remember feeling true happiness and joy until around 18 years old, post-psychiatric medication), they did not cure my ailments. At best, they were a faulty band-aid.

In addition to the depression and OCD, I suffered from awful periods. They were completely irregular and I would easily bleed through a tampon in a few hours. And then the pain. I would get almost daily abdominal pain throughout my cycle that seemed to have no cause nor pattern. I vividly remember in high school having to frequently leave class to go to the bathroom to just sit and sweat through the pain until it passed.

Luckily, at 17 years old, the addition of birth control to my drug cocktail, to control what was diagnosed as endometriosis, graciously allowed my moods to stabilize enough to get off the psychiatric medication. But still I knew that birth control was not the way to solve with my period issues and I held fast to my goal to be medication-free.

After high school, I began experimenting with nutrition, exercise, and supplements.  I was able to get enough relief to eventually discontinue the birth control. When I entered naturopathic medical school, I learned about even more natural treatments for mood and menses, and continued to improve my health naturally.

While stress can always throw a wrench in the works, my periods are much more like what a period should be: a minor inconvenience.  And as for the needing medication for the rest of my life, I am proud to say it has been well over a decade since I have been prescribed a psychiatric pharmaceutical. Not only do I live without any medication, I would even go so far as to describe myself as a happy person who loves to laugh, something that my ten-year-old self could not have even dreamed about.

I’m not saying this was an easy road to take. In fact, it’s not. It’s much easier to take a pill each day but it doesn’t make for a happy or healthy life. It required a lot of experimenting, patience, education, and time. But it is possible.  This is why I am so passionate about helping others on their path of healing, so they can live a happier and healthier life of their choosing.

Dr. Ashley Russell is owner and naturopathic doctor at Frederick Natural Health Center in Frederick, MD. To learn more about Dr. Russell’s training and experience, click here.