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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » John Bradshaw » John Bradshaw - Conversation with Dr. Neil Nedley - Part 1

John Bradshaw - Conversation with Dr. Neil Nedley - Part 1

John Bradshaw - Conversation with Dr. Neil Nedley - Part 1
TOPICS: Conversations

John Bradshaw: Dr. Neil Nedley, thank you so much. I appreciate you being here.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Oh, it's great being here, John.

John Bradshaw: So you're a physician. You've been a physician for some years. Your specialty is internal medicine. You're very well known now for the work that you've done and do in depression and anxiety recovery. Before we talk about that and the constellation of subjects that circulates around that or orbits around that, let's go back. Neil Nedley, where did he come from? How did you find your way to medical school? Where were you raised? Let's start with that.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Well, I was raised just outside of Detroit, Michigan. My father was an engineer for General Motors...

John Bradshaw: Ah, sure.

Dr. Neil Nedley: ...and was chief engineer on a number of different famous automobiles.

John Bradshaw: Oh, is that so?

Dr. Neil Nedley: And also in that whole arena, engineers do a lot of sitting, and he was getting overweight, had some health issues. I'm 13 years of age, and I see my father go through a dramatic change in his diet and start exercising. And I saw a new father emerge...

John Bradshaw: Wow.

Dr. Neil Nedley: ...not only physically but emotionally. He lost weight down to his lean body mass and also saw him really come alive in regards to emotional intelligence and all of those aspects. And I started to realize there's a lot to what you put into your body and what you do with your body. And if it hadn't been for that, I don't think I'd be a physician.

John Bradshaw: That's really interesting. I was going to ask you, was there ever a time you were going to become an engineer? Then you described your dad as doing a lot of sitting up. I thought, ah, maybe that cured you of that idea. Yeah.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Well, I always said in high school that I would never be a doctor. People thought I should 'cause I did well in math and science. And so they would say, you know, "You should be a doctor," and I would say...

John Bradshaw: So why did you not want to be a doctor?

Dr. Neil Nedley: That's one thing I know I won't be. Well, no one in our family was in the medical field. You know, the medical field wasn't seen as something that was, you know, attractive at all, at least to me at that age.

John Bradshaw: So to begin with, you weren't ever going to be a doctor?

Dr. Neil Nedley: Never was going to be a doctor. But, you know, you made the connection, because there were four doctors in our church. This is before I started college, and they knew that I was looking at a lot of different things. I was thinking about being an attorney. I was thinking about being a pastor and other occupations. And they took me out to the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit and said, "We think you should be a doctor".

John Bradshaw: Oh, is that so?

Dr. Neil Nedley: And when four of them came together and did that, I put it on my radar screen.

John Bradshaw: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

Dr. Neil Nedley: But I developed a pro-con list of all of the different occupations that I might be. I didn't want to waste time in college and, you know, change my mind multiple times. And the pro-con list put them all the same. And that's when I realized that I needed God to help me with this.

John Bradshaw: As a kid, were you...I don't want to say naturally spiritual. I don't know if anybody is. But did devotion to God come easy for you as a young person, or did that not happen until you're a little older?

Dr. Neil Nedley: It happened when I was 15.

John Bradshaw: What happened?

Dr. Neil Nedley: So I went through a conversion experience just by reading the Bible and studying Bible doctrines on my own. So I was, you know, I finished my 10th grade year, and I figured out I could graduate the next year. I was in an Adventist school, a Christian school, but I had to have four years of Bible and four years of English and four years of history. And so I had to take American history, English, and Bible doctrines by correspondence that summer, and then I could enter my senior year. And so having to take those three courses on my own and particularly the Bible doctrines, prior to that, I was a little bit of a rabble-rouser. I would cause problems in the classroom. I would get my work done and then kind of distract everybody else. And we went through a number of teachers. And I was seen as kind of the negative ringleader prior to then; in fact, I was called into the principal's office and told that, "We've suspended a lot of people this year, but we realize the one behind it is all you, but you're too smart, too, and you cover your tracks, so we can't prove it. And so that's why you're not being suspended is 'cause we don't have it proven". And so I realized they were on to something, but that year everything changed. When just reading the Bible and Bible teachings, I gave my heart completely to the Lord at age 15.

John Bradshaw: Did you set out to do that? Was there a cognizance of, boy, I need to change, or that's just what happened?

Dr. Neil Nedley: Just what happened.

John Bradshaw: It's what happens when God gets hold of a young man's heart.

Dr. Neil Nedley: That's right.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: So, how soon after that did you figure out you were going to go to medical school?

Dr. Neil Nedley: So it would have been two summers. Well, let's see, 'cause that was the summer before my senior year then. So yeah, it would have been just one year after that.

John Bradshaw: Wow. Did you enjoy medical school?

Dr. Neil Nedley: Oh yes. Yeah, I enjoyed medical school. The first semester was not enjoyable for me.

John Bradshaw: It's not enjoyable for many medical students, is it?

Dr. Neil Nedley: It was, well, I was not all that prepared. I had done college in three years. I had taken my MCAT after two years. And I did so well on the MCAT that they accepted me without finishing my fourth year. And I only had one year of biology, and now I'm in advanced biology, anatomy, physiology... not physiology yet, physiology I would have enjoyed, but anatomy, histology, neuroanatomy, gross anatomy, all of those aspects of things, and it's pure memorization; it's not really having to think. And so that was a little tougher on me that first semester, but then after that, the thinking subjects came, like biochemistry and physiology, and even pathophysiology, all of those things.

John Bradshaw: And that was a little better?

Dr. Neil Nedley: And that was a lot better.

John Bradshaw: Yeah, so you're the first guy in the world who said, "Along came biochem, and that was better". So medical school was a good, was a good experience?

Dr. Neil Nedley: It was a, it was a great experience, yeah.

John Bradshaw: Somewhere along the line is one of the things every medical student has to do, is to determine what she or he is going to, what sort of physician..

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: ...that is, where you'd specialize, where you'd aim.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: Internal medicine was, was an easy choice? Was there any kind of process of elimination?

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yeah. Well, I had an open mind. I was, you know, looking at everything. But I wanted to make the biggest impact on people's decision-making themselves 'cause I realized a lot of their health didn't have to do with me.

John Bradshaw: Right.

Dr. Neil Nedley: It had to do with them.

John Bradshaw: Sure.

Dr. Neil Nedley: And it had to do with what they're putting into their body and what they're doing with their body. So I was trying to pick a specialty where I would be able to have the greatest impact in helping people to change from a disease-based model and to getting rid of that disease in a health-based model.

John Bradshaw: Somewhere around that time or before that time you had connected lifestyle choices with outcomes.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Exactly.

John Bradshaw: Not everybody does that.

Dr. Neil Nedley: No.

John Bradshaw: There are people who've been physicians all their lives and have never made that connection.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yeah. But in my case, seeing my father's change and then also seeing others change, even in college, one of my projects in my community course was to put on a community health education program. And I decided to do it on health, and I could see a lot of people's faces light up. I followed them afterwards. I could see how they were changing. So that was even before I went to medical school. So I had my father's experience, multiple other people's experience. And so now in medical school I'm viewing all of medical school and biochemistry and those things, not just from a pharmaceutical perspective, but from even a food science perspective and food biochemistry and all of that. And so I was having that perspective early on, which helped me to understand the science behind nutrition and lifestyle far better.

John Bradshaw: Did many of your contemporaries view medicine through that same lens?

Dr. Neil Nedley: Very few.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yeah, very few. Probably less than 5% of my class were interested in anything like that.

John Bradshaw: And those that were not, did they think... was the wisdom that this was just a little odd or a little unnecessary, or was there no judgment, it was live and let live?

Dr. Neil Nedley: Mostly no judgment, but often thought of as maybe nonscientific.

John Bradshaw: That's interesting.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yeah, because, you know, what I was interested in was seen at the time as alternative medicine. You know, true medicine was where the science was at, and alternative is kind of quasi-science, but now there's actually more scientific validity for nutrition and lifestyle than there is the traditional approaches in many areas of medicine.

John Bradshaw: Correct, correct. Well, and it has to be, too, if you looking at...if you're looking at...medicine that works with the body, that has to be science-based.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yes.

John Bradshaw: Doesn't it? You're looking at the science, and you're looking at the studies and so forth.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Right. Yeah.

John Bradshaw: Today, you're very well-known for the work that you do with depression and anxiety recovery and more beyond that, but...before I ask you about that, because what I'm going to ask you in a moment is, how did you get involved, interested in that? You're an internal medicine physician. That's not depression and anxiety recovery, although I'm sure you're going to tell me there's a very, very big correlation and connection. What did you do before that when you were doctoring, you know, out of medical school?

Dr. Neil Nedley: So I did a lot of hospital medicine. So I saw people at their worst.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Dr. Neil Nedley: So I was an intensive care unit doctor. I admitted people to the hospital, and then I took care of the sickest of the sick as an outpatient because after the hospitalization, they would come to see me. So I was really dealing with those who had the accumulated effects of poor nutrition and lifestyle choices and then trying to change them so they wouldn't have to be readmitted to the hospital.

John Bradshaw: Did you realize at the beginning of that work that that's what you were seeing, or did it dawn on you later? What I'm asking you: Did you see at the beginning sick person, or did you say "sick person" and understand how they got there?

Dr. Neil Nedley: Oh, no. At the very beginning of my work, I saw a sick person and how they got there, but I didn't know all of the reasons why they got there until I started to study it more. And then, of course, new science started to develop, and we realized that even more disease than I originally thought of was due to, you know, self-inflicted causes that were, not that people were doing it intentionally, but they just were not educated in regards to how to live the healthiest lifestyle and how to be able to avoid all of these diseases. So, you know, I was seeing coronary artery disease. Number one reason for admitting patients to the hospital was congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, chest pain. I did a lot of cardiology, did a lot of gastroenterology, you know, bleeding ulcers, and pancreatitis, and then a lot of pulmonary medicine with respiratory failure and the effects of tobacco and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which ends up being a lot in the hospital, and then people that are generally sick with immune system issues coming in with major infections, and then also cancer. A lot of cancer patients that I was seeing through all of this.

John Bradshaw: It's really interesting that up until the time, up until the last two things you mentioned, immune and cancer, even though you could include those, everything else you mentioned is largely avoidable.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Exactly.

John Bradshaw: Every last thing.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: So how does a physician...

Dr. Neil Nedley: Even cancer and immune system, 80% of cancers are preventable, actually, if we would put into practice what we know.

John Bradshaw: Right, so, as a physician you're seeing sick person after sick person after sick person in a bed in front of you, and you're thinking, another person who needn't be here and another person who needn't be here and another person who needn't be here.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Right.

John Bradshaw: Where does that focus your energies? Because you're clearly living in a broken society. We produce sick people. We make our people sick. And then you're working in a health care system that puts band-aids on...

Dr. Neil Nedley: Right.

John Bradshaw: ...without getting to the root cause of why people are ending up under a doctor's care in the first place. What kind of frustrations, whether that's the right word or not, were you experiencing as you looked at this?

Dr. Neil Nedley: Oh, it's highly frustrating, but I was doing something about it. And that is I put on nutrition and lifestyle seminars in the community. So once a week, we would, my wife and I, in fact, she would do the cooking and that sort of thing, but we'd have a whole room full of patients coming to learn how they can treat their own disease through nutrition and lifestyle changes. And to see that end of it made me not so discouraged in admitting these people because I realized this is another candidate for changing their life in a very positive way where they can live far better than what they've been living before.

John Bradshaw: Did you find there was much, I mean, you were attracting people, so there were some, was there much openness among people to actually proactively doing something about their condition? You know, we live in a society that if you can hand me a drug, I'm just as happy as a clam. This is not that. So what was the openness like to that?

Dr. Neil Nedley: Well, the openness was actually very positive, and it was probably due to the fact that these people were sick enough. When you come into the hospital and you're very sick, you don't know if you're getting out of there or not alive. And then when they realize Dr. Nedley helped me to get over this disease and helped me to get out of this hospital, and now he wants me to come and educate me on how I can live a healthier lifestyle, that's pretty positive. So, now, had I got them on the front end before they got any disease processed, that would have been a harder sell. They don't know who I am. They haven't gotten to know me. They're not really struggling with anything, and it's like, "Hey, my life is pretty good right now, and I don't want to change what I'm eating. I like what I'm eating".

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Dr. Neil Nedley: And so, but on that other end, once they get into that hospital and they realize they almost died, the motivation level goes up considerably.

John Bradshaw: Yeah. You don't know what you had until you've almost lost it. Unfortunately with heart disease, one of the most prevalent indicators of heart disease is sudden death...

Dr. Neil Nedley: Exactly.

John Bradshaw: ...which means if you don't do something about it before that time, it may be too terribly too late.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: But you ended up emphasizing or working in, and when I say "ended up," I don't mean that you don't do the other.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Right.

John Bradshaw: But today you do an immense amount of work, and it revolutionizes people's lives dealing with depression and anxiety, not just dealing with it but helping people to recover from that.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: Why did you go there? You could've helped people reverse heart disease, diabetes. You could've been on a personal crusade, and I don't mean that in a negative way, to lower the blood pressure of America. All of that would be arguably just as necessary, just as impactful. Certainly, there's a great need. But for some reason, you said, "I could do 50 different things, and maybe that's not a stretch to really impact people's overall health, but I'm doing this".

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: And I would say, too, you can correct me if I'm wrong, one of the least understood disciplines, and one of the disciplines where there's very little actually being done about it, other than throwing pills at it. Why that? Why depression and anxiety recovery?

Dr. Neil Nedley: Well, you touched on it a little bit already, and that is that this was an area that most people, virtually nobody was doing things in the nutrition and lifestyle arena from a scientific perspective. So coronary artery disease, you know, we had Dean Ornish, and you had Esselstyn and, you know, with cancer prevention. You had the guy from Cornell, T. Colin Campbell. And so there were a number of other people getting involved in nutrition and lifestyle research and applying that, but nobody was doing it in the mental health arena. And I recognize from treating my own patients that there were things more powerful. When I first got involved in it, I was hoping that nutrition and lifestyle would be as powerful as pharmaceuticals.

John Bradshaw: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Neil Nedley: And analyzing my own patients and looking at the pre- and post-data after we started to really emphasize this aspect of things, I realized it was far more powerful than medications and traditional therapies.

John Bradshaw: More powerful?

Dr. Neil Nedley: More powerful.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Dr. Neil Nedley: And so, looking at that whole spectrum, and I love the other aspects of medicine. It's not because I didn't like them, but it was actually my wife, Erica, that gave me some perspective on this. She says, "You're doing all of these other things, but you can find doctors in the country that are doing what you're doing in those areas, but you can't find anyone that's doing what you're doing with depression and anxiety anywhere". So she says, "I think you ought to emphasize that more because there's just no other place for them, for anyone to be able to turn to, to be able to, you know, access what you're doing in mental health". So when she said that, I made a conscious decision to back away from my gastrointestinal and that sort of thing so I could give more time. We also had a lot of demands on the mental health. We had a lot of people wanting to see us as outpatients because they would tell their friends and relatives about us. So, you know, our receptionists would say, you know, "There's not enough of you to see all the depressed and anxious people in this town with all the other things that you're doing". And so recognizing the demands were there and also recognizing that it was a unique aspect that hadn't really been touched the way it should have been prior to that, that is why I decided to really give that the strong emphasis.

John Bradshaw: So several things I wanna ask you in just a moment. I've got to come back in a second and ask you about that statement you made. Lifestyle and diet proved to be more effective in treating depression, anxiety than medication. So that's a whale of a statement, and I want to explore that with you in just a little moment. With Dr. Neil Nedley, I am John Bradshaw. Stay with us, more of our conversation in just a moment, brought to you by It Is Written.

John Bradshaw: Welcome back to "Conversations," brought to you by It Is Written. My guest is Dr. Neil Nedley. And a moment ago, I said I'd come back and pick up on something you said. We're talking about your work as you eased into really focusing on depression and anxiety recovery. And notice: not depression and anxiety treatment.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Exactly.

John Bradshaw: Depression and anxiety recovery. You said that in working for the recovery from depression and anxiety, that diet and lifestyle were more effective than medication.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yes.

John Bradshaw: Medications, there's a zillion medications. In fact, I don't need to exaggerate. Millions of doses of medication are prescribed in this country every year for depression and anxiety, millions and millions. Something more effective than that is diet and lifestyle. So, I think I want to ask you, how in the world that can even be the case.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Because medications don't really allow you to produce more neurotransmitters, nor do they allow you to pick up more receptors.

John Bradshaw: Okay, and neurotransmitters and receptors, yeah, explain why that's important.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yeah. So the synapse, everything is occurring in the connections of the brain. And the brain is connected in an area of synapse, so that's where an electrical signal occurs; then a little chemical is released to be picked up on the receptor nerves, and that's how communication occurs. And so the biochemical issue has to be at the synaptic level, and that's where every pharmaceutical company is trying to reach. They're trying to fill receptors, or they're trying to get more synaptic activity. And how they get more synaptic activity is by actually plugging the vacuum cleaners of the neuron that released the neurotransmitter to begin with. So if there's not enough, for instance, serotonin in that neuron, you may not get a synapse. So how do we get more serotonin to interact with the synapse? We plug the vacuum cleaners that vacuum up the serotonin to be reused later. So it stays in the synaptic cleft. Now, that is a short-term gain and a long-term problem.

John Bradshaw: I'm wondering about what the long-term effects of that process might end up being.

Dr. Neil Nedley: It takes a lot of energy to produce serotonin in the brain. Serotonin has to be produced in your brain. You can't just give someone IV serotonin. It doesn't even cross the blood-brain barrier.

John Bradshaw: That's interesting.

Dr. Neil Nedley: And so those manufacturing plants have to be there. And if those manufacturing plants are underperforming, the pharmaceutical looks like, hey, it's a good choice because now the depression is starting to lift. We're seeing good results, but it's been at the expense that there's not enough serotonin being vacuumed back up. So now, the already depleted neuron is having to try to produce even more, which it couldn't even produce enough to begin with.

John Bradshaw: So what's the answer? More of the pharmaceutical.

Dr. Neil Nedley: So the answer is more of the pharmaceutical and additional pharmaceuticals. And this is how people become what we call psychiatric cripples. They came in with bad depression. They got put on a drug. It seemed to work for a while. Now, a year later, they're having to have higher doses. Now, they're having to have additional medicines. Now, we're having to change medicines, and that's why they have to be monitored and seen by the doctor all the time, where no one actually tried to tell them why is it that you were not making enough serotonin to begin with. This is a problem that can be fixed through nutrition and lifestyle, and then we don't have to have the side effects because the side effects of blocking those vacuum cleaners is it causes an I-don't-care attitude. So even when you should be happy, you're not as happy as you would be otherwise.

John Bradshaw: Right, and people can understand that. You get people who take psych meds, and they just kind of, they end up kind of blah.

Dr. Neil Nedley: They're more flat, things that they should care about. You know, an I-don't-care attitude persists, and so they don't do some things that really they should be doing or intervening in certain situations because there's a predominant I-don't-care attitude. Now, a lot of people like that effect when they have crying spells because they don't want to care as much because they don't cry now anymore, and so they're willing to put up with this sort of thing, but it also worsens impulsivity. And compulsivity is something that's associated with suicide, and that's why they all have black-box warnings. Here, we are giving someone a drug to help their depression that's going to worsen their impulsivity before it improves their depression, so, many suicides occur during the first month of taking these medicines. And if we fix it through nutrition and lifestyle, we can not only improve depression and improve mood, but we can increase their self-control. We can, in other words, make them less impulsive, and at the same time, their ability to care for others and even themselves goes up instead of the opposite direction. Because we're taking care of the primary defect of why they weren't able to make enough of that neurotransmitter or have enough of the receptors. So nutrition and lifestyle measures are amazing in regards to what they can do with the mental health, once we understand what that particular biochemical defect is. And of course, that's as an internal medicine doctor and as a GI doctor, I'm used to studying all these neurotransmitters. They're used in the gut and all of those things. And so we've been able to come up with ways looking at epigenetics and other things where we can precisely see what the defect is and get to that.

John Bradshaw: So a question, I think, that's worth asking here, and it may be out of sequence, or it may not be, why are people dealing with a lack of, let's say, serotonin or other important chemicals in the brain? Why is someone at the place where they need treatment, and they end up on some sort of pharmaceutical regimen? What's going on that this is being experienced at all?

Dr. Neil Nedley: Well, that's a great question because it's being experienced at a much higher level today.

John Bradshaw: Right.

Dr. Neil Nedley: And so it's a common question: What's different about humanity today? And of course, it depends on the individual. There's a multiple steps involved in being able to make these neurotransmitters and build up the receptors. But some of the more common things that are happening is the typical American, 91% of their time is spent indoors.

John Bradshaw: 91%?

Dr. Neil Nedley: 91% indoors. And our brains are actually made to be outdoors, at least an hour or more a day because the bright light through our eyes stimulates serotonin production. The bright light also, in regards to the sun, protects our mitochondria, our energy-producing cells in the brain so that they can actually produce more serotonin. That's the infrared light that comes from the sun that actually penetrates the skull. And these mitochondrial areas of the brain are all on the surface of the brain, what we call the gray matter, and that surface area is where the infrared penetrates. It doesn't penetrate beyond the gray matter very much. It doesn't need to because we don't have those mitochondria in the white matter. And so with all of the screens and the indoor time, we are seeing a shift. The other aspect is these devices that many people are utilizing, instead of watching a program like this and really focusing in on it, they're constantly being distracted.

John Bradshaw: Yes.

Dr. Neil Nedley: They get on their cell phone to do something, and then they see a text, and then they see a push notification, and then they see some sort of news notification, then someone sends them a Snapchat and, you know, 15 minutes later, they're trying to figure out, why did I get on my phone, to begin with before I got distracted? When the brain is continually distracted, it shuts down the anterior cingulate gyrus in the frontal lobe. That's the area that we need for focused attention and actually begins to shrink that area down, and that's the area that we need to manage distressing emotions. So our ability to manage distressing emotions goes way down just as a result of the normal use of smartphones. And after smartphones were introduced in 2012, in every country of the world, once 50% of the people owned a smartphone, rates of depression and anxiety skyrocketed.

John Bradshaw: In every country of the world?

Dr. Neil Nedley: Every country of the world.

John Bradshaw: You know, what you were saying a moment ago, talking about the way these, the infrared light, and brains are made to be outside, or bodies were created to be outside, and so forth, first thing I was thinking there was, wow, what a design job. What an incredible way the body was designed, the brain was made, the eyes were to receive this and see that and the sun, everything made incredibly. The Bible says we "are fearfully and wonderfully made". Some people understand that. Someone who really understands that is the devil because a lot of what he's done has been to interrupt these natural processes and prevent what otherwise would happen, but he somehow has lured us into a lifestyle where we now damage ourselves, in fact, where we now probably realize we're damaging ourselves, just don't care enough to do much about it.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Boy, isn't that the truth?

John Bradshaw: Strange old thing, isn't it?

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yeah. And so, the pandemic actually made things worse because it drove people indoors even more. You know, we live, you know, next to some very beautiful hiking trails over there in northern California. And we love to hike those hiking trails, and when the pandemic broke out, there were big signs: "No one allowed on the trails. Pandemic going on".

John Bradshaw: Look, what, I mean, I need to be careful here. I don't want to be misinterpreted or misunderstood. That was the dumbest thing in the world.

Dr. Neil Nedley: In retrospect, it clearly was.

John Bradshaw: You needed people walking in the woods, and maybe keeping their distance because you don't wanna catch something, but you needed people walking on the beach and hiking in mountains, and,,,

Dr. Neil Nedley: Well, at Weimar University we have 15 miles of trails, and we kept ours open, and our trails became the busiest trails in California because that's the place that they could go. We didn't stop anyone from going on our trails.

John Bradshaw: And by the way, it needs to be said, because I remember trails locally were closed. And it's not that anyone thought walking on trails was a bad idea. Often, it was state employees who would maintain and govern these things were all laid off, or they were at home, or they were indoors. And so there were, it wasn't madness entirely. We need to be accurate here; otherwise we're painting the wrong picture.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Right.

John Bradshaw: So you headed down this road of wanting to treat depression and anxiety, and you knew from the beginning you were on to something. You knew that good health principles would be effective there, but you had to establish some things. You had to get, perhaps had to do some research or compile research that had been done. You had to get your feet under you. I wonder also, as you began doing this, you've been doing this for some years now.

Dr. Neil Nedley: You're right.

John Bradshaw: But, you know, day two, there may have been some opposition. There may have been people even who respected you, or you respected, who looked at what you were doing and maybe narrowed their eyes a little bit. Did it take some time to establish some momentum, or in this were you able to hit the ground running? The reason I'm asking that is you were countercultural. You were swimming against the current.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Right.

John Bradshaw: So did it take some time to get some momentum?

Dr. Neil Nedley: It did take some time to get some momentum, but no one was really looking that closely at first because internal medicine doctors treat depression and anxiety. The brain is an internal organ. Most of the pharmaceuticals prescribed in this country are not prescribed by psychiatrists. They're actually prescribed by primary care doctors, OB/GYN doctors, pediatricians, family medicine doctors, and so they're treating depression and anxiety all the time. They're trained to do that. And so since I was doing that, no one was saying this was unusual. And so it was actually pretty easy transition at first. But what made it more complex is when everybody started to come to me for their depression and anxiety that were in the psychiatric field. You know, our hospital administrator sent his wife over to us who had been through the whole psychiatric system. And when she came over, she got completely better, and then he asked me to give a whole continuing medical education talk and then a whole public meeting at the hospital where I was working in regards to what I was doing with depression and anxiety. And the psychiatrist that was heading the behavioral medicine unit told him a few hours before that, "If this meeting goes on, I am going to come in the front row, and I'm gonna heckle Dr. Nedley the whole way through". He told me that 15 minutes before I was supposed to give my talk.

John Bradshaw: OK. Good timing.

Dr. Neil Nedley: The psychiatrist showed up.

John Bradshaw: Well, tell me how that played out.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Well, it actually played out quite well because I utilized science to demonstrate everything that I was doing. So I was actually quoting from psychiatric journals. I was quoting from medical journals. I was showing the pathophysiology about how this happens and then what can happen. And so he sat there and listened to that whole thing, and he never said a word.

John Bradshaw: Wow.

Dr. Neil Nedley: And afterwards, he did get up, and, you know, because we had samples of even food items that can help you make more serotonin and all of that. And he and his partner came through and sampled the food items, and then he said to me, he said, "You know, perhaps an internal medicine approach to psychiatry has its place".

John Bradshaw: Wow.

Dr. Neil Nedley: So that was about the best I could expect over what he was planning on doing.

John Bradshaw: A pretty big admission, a big turnaround there.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yeah. And so everything that we do is based on good scientific principles. This isn't quasi-science.

John Bradshaw: Right.

Dr. Neil Nedley: And so that's really helped in the process. And then of course, what we've done in showing before and after results, you know, a lot of times people say, "Well, you know, what about results"? You know, the typical physician or psychiatrist never shows you their before and after results.

John Bradshaw: Mmm, that's interesting.

Dr. Neil Nedley: But, you know, I'm very clear on what the before and after results are, and these are standardized tests that are being taken. And we are seeing, as I mentioned, data that far surpasses any other thing that's been looked at for depression and anxiety, in regards to before and after results. And this is very clear data, you know, compilation now in thousands of patients, over 10,000 now, that have experienced this. And it's really hard to argue with that data.

John Bradshaw: I want to ask you in a moment if you would share some success stories with me. But first, I want to ask you about the seriousness of the problem.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Oh, yes.

John Bradshaw: If you've never had depression, I think it's quite easy to be oblivious to the extent of this problem. So, facing America, how big a problem is presented by depression and anxiety? What are we up against here?

Dr. Neil Nedley: Well, it's pretty serious. And the highest age group, you know, when I was growing up, it was the older people that would have it or maybe midlife. In fact, it wasn't even called depression. It was called the midlife crisis.

John Bradshaw: Sure, sure, sure.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Because nobody really had it in their younger years. Now we're seeing the highest rates in those between the ages of 12 and 40. That is a very high group of depressed individuals.

John Bradshaw: That's quite...

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yeah. In fact, about it's so common in the younger age groups, these high schoolers today, that they're saying if someone is mentally normal in their group, they're the abnormal one.

John Bradshaw: Wow.

Dr. Neil Nedley: And so depression and anxiety is really about 1 out of 2 in that age group...

John Bradshaw: One out of two?

Dr. Neil Nedley: ...are gonna get it. Yeah, one out of two. It used to be 1 out of 4.

John Bradshaw: Given that we only have a minute before the break, just quickly, why are young people, and that's anyone up to 40, but particularly younger young people, why? This is a huge shift. When I was a kid, no kid had depression.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Right.

John Bradshaw: Now you're saying 1 in 2.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Right.

John Bradshaw: This is way beyond public health crisis. This is public health emergency.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yeah. And it's not just depression, anxiety, but the related disorders, things like OCD and PTSD, social anxiety at an all-time high. These high schoolers don't want to interact with other people. They'd rather text someone. In fact, they'll be in the same room with someone, and they'd rather text.

John Bradshaw: So what are some of the reasons? Just quickly, some of the reasons, because folks will hear this and recognize them. What are some of the reasons that particularly younger people are being ravaged by mental health disorders?

Dr. Neil Nedley: Indoors virtually all the time and on screens virtually all the time. Those are two big things that have brought it about.

John Bradshaw: Look, I know there are going to be others. If I pressed you, you could say, "And this and this and this," but you...and I know I said we're short on time, so maybe that has something to do with it, but you just went to two.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: So it's as simple as that. If we could address these two, it would turn things around.

Dr. Neil Nedley: It would turn things around dramatically. Yeah, and, you know, and social media makes us antisocial,

John Bradshaw: Yes.

Dr. Neil Nedley: ...but it also, we're driven to it to try to connect, but studies show we quit connecting. We then compare.

John Bradshaw: Yeah. Oooh, sure.

Dr. Neil Nedley: And, you know, a person will take 1,000 pictures of themselves with the right lighting and put the one up that looks least like them.

John Bradshaw: That's right.

Dr. Neil Nedley: And then all of their friends get jealous because they'll never be able to measure up to that appearance, and that person doesn't even look like that themselves. But yet it causes people to have social appearance anxiety, is an all-time high because people think they're going to be judged negatively just on the basis of their appearance because they're comparing themselves with doctored-up images of their friends. And the more we look at images, the more depressed we're going to get, particularly when it's false images.

John Bradshaw: Yes.

Dr. Neil Nedley: You know, I was at a place, a tourist place seeing a beautiful waterfall, and two women, it was actually in a boat where we were coming to a beautiful waterfall in a rainforest. And these two women were arguing vehemently with each other. And as the boat slowed down to get this picture, they actually put their arms around each other, smiled real big, took this picture, uploaded it to Instagram, and then began arguing again. But everyone in their friend group got jealous because they were in this beautiful location, and they had these smiles on their faces, and that's a false representation. If they would have seen what happened before that picture and after that picture, they would have never gotten jealous.

John Bradshaw: And if people could see themselves as they are in Jesus and understand something of their worth in the sight of God, it might be that they wouldn't be quite as concerned with impressing everybody about the happiness they are or are not experiencing.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Absolutely. And that spiritual aspect is also important. We're seeing spirituality at an all-time low among that age group.

John Bradshaw: OK. We'll come back, we'll talk about that in a minute. And success stories, success stories, real-life stories of people who have been disabled by depression or anxiety or a related disorder and have seen their lives put back together in a profound way. With Dr. Neil Nedley, I'm John Bradshaw, more of our conversation in just a moment. [ ]

John Bradshaw: Thank you for joining me on "Conversations," brought to you by It Is Written. With me is Dr. Neil Nedley. Dr. Nedley, a moment ago, I said we'd discuss, or at least you discuss, success stories, people who have, who you've worked with or you about who have had difficulties, challenges with mental health, with depression, with depression, anxiety, and so forth, but they're well now; they're fully functioning today. Firstly, beyond some kind of catastrophic illness, let me just put it this way. The average person, the average depressed individual, whatever that means, what's the possibility--what's the percentage chances? I'm asking you an impossible question, but you'll give me an answer anyway. The average depressed person, what's the percentage chance that they can, not will, but can become well? What would you put that at?

Dr. Neil Nedley: Oh, I would put that at over 99%.

John Bradshaw: No.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: Really?

Dr. Neil Nedley: That's what our data shows. So 99% within 10 to 17 to at most 24 days can be completely transformed.

John Bradshaw: Less than a month?

Dr. Neil Nedley: Less than a month.

John Bradshaw: Something that's crippling you now can be gone?

Dr. Neil Nedley: Can be gone.

John Bradshaw: And the reason I ask, well, you know better than I do just how many people watching are battling something that's killing them, maybe even literally, eating them up, destroying them, destroying their social life.

Dr. Neil Nedley: They don't have to put up with that.

John Bradshaw: Don't have to put up with that? Okay.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yeah. Now, if they're under the traditional treatment realm, they're gonna be fed the manipulative, you know, message that you're just going to have to try to manage this, and you're going to have struggle this with your whole life.

John Bradshaw: Okay.

Dr. Neil Nedley: That's not true.

John Bradshaw: I want to ask you, and I will ask you, why that message is so loud when we have such strong evidence that a person doesn't need to be, in many cases, fed drugs that aren't going to make a big difference. But I'll get to that in a minute. We'll come to that, but share some success stories with us.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Well, I can think of a woman that came to us in her early 30s. She had a problem when she was, you know, in college and had to change schools, ended up picking up alcohol and picking up other things, you know, marijuana, tobacco, and then bad relationships with men and child out of wedlock, but enough intelligence to still get a job and work as an ICU nurse. But then life started to spiral out of control. We got her after her fifth serious suicide attempt, multiple stays in psychiatric institutions, lots of bad experiences in those psychiatric institutions.

John Bradshaw: Okay, so that's someone who's really broken. I don't mean that disrespectfully.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Oh, no, very broken. They can't work anymore, yeah.

John Bradshaw: Yeah, when you've been committed to a psychiatric institution multiple times, I mean, we all admit that's a person who's in a bad way.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: And so after all that, this person came to you.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yeah, she came to us. She was told by her mother, her mother was convinced, because she had heard some of the other stories, but, you know, when a woman's in her 30s, the mother can't tell her what to do, necessarily. So the mother did the best she can and could and said, "You know, perhaps you can go to this spa place at Weimar".

John Bradshaw: Oooh, spa place?

Dr. Neil Nedley: So she thought it was a spa, which, you know, we do have massage, and we do have hydrotherapy, and, you know, it's a spa-like setting, but...

John Bradshaw: All right. It's in a beautiful location.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yeah, in a beautiful location. But she realized right up front this was not your typical spa. This was a mental health boot camp. And she wasn't sure she was up to that.

John Bradshaw: Wow.

Dr. Neil Nedley: And she particularly was upset over the fact that it was mind, body, spirit, that we were dealing also with the spiritual part. So she sensed that spiritual part. And she wanted to sign out immediately.

John Bradshaw: Really?

Dr. Neil Nedley: And the psychologist had an unscheduled meeting with her, she was very antsy, anxious, and asked why she was so antsy and anxious. Well, you know, it's a non-smoking facility, and she couldn't smoke. So she said, "Go out in the woods, have a cigarette, don't tell Dr. Nedley, and come back here and let's talk". So then we talked. She decided to stay that night, and then she started to participate some, and by day five or six, she had made some changes. And she realized some of the things that she needed to change. But by day six or seven, it's when she was out of there, and she says, "I just need to go," and she wanted to leave. And I had to be the one to then talk to her. I said, "What harm have we done to you"?

John Bradshaw: Right.

Dr. Neil Nedley: And she says, "Well, you haven't done any harm. That's a good question". And so, you know, I said, "Well, why don't you stay a few more days and get the benefit"? So she did stay, and she was no longer suicidal. When she left in 10 days, she was doing a little better, but I said, "You need another week with us. You know, you need the extended stay". And she went home despite that. And a few days later, she recognized, you know, "This is not going well at home. I do need more time". So she called us back, and she ended up staying another two weeks. But we found out some biochemical issues in her that no one had discovered before. We also were able to get to some of her root highways in the brain. Everyone with mental health issues, in fact, we all have distorted ways of thinking. It's just whether we're mentally ill or not, as to how common those distortions are and how repetitive they are.

John Bradshaw: Right.

Dr. Neil Nedley: So she was able to have enough good biochemistry to analyze that, start correcting those pathways in her brain, start thinking thoughts that are now helpful. And then after her extra week there, she was now interested in something that she thought she'd never be interested in, and that is the spiritual part.

John Bradshaw: Oh, really?

Dr. Neil Nedley: And she says, "I'm realizing", because it was a mind, body, spirit, so we talked about mental health cases in the Bible. We talked about some of the principles that have actually been shown to be scientifically valid today from the Word of God, and she started to get interested in that, and she says, "You know, I'm really interested in studying the Bible. Can someone actually, you know, help me in studying the Bible"?

John Bradshaw: She made that request?

Dr. Neil Nedley: She made that request. And so our nurse, who was a good person to explain the Bible to people, said, "Sure, I'll do it". And so she and her did a little Bible study that second week, as well as all of the other things, and then she was ready at that point. Her depression was gone. Her anxiety was almost gone. She also had been diagnosed with ADHD. She had been on Clonazepam. She had been on Adderall.

John Bradshaw: She had been up against it.

Dr. Neil Nedley: All of these different meds; SSRIs, SNRIs, and now, you know, within a few weeks, she was depression-free, anxiety-free, and medication-free.

John Bradshaw: And medication-free?

Dr. Neil Nedley: And medication-free. And she's been that way since, and now she actually puts on our community program in her local community. And she says, "I think I'm saving more lives putting on this program and working with depression than I was as an ICU nurse".

John Bradshaw: Isn't that phenomenal?

Dr. Neil Nedley: She did get her job back as a nurse. She ended up being asked to be the charge nurse, and then the director of nurses because her emotional intelligence was so much better, our program also improves emotional intelligence, and a highly-functional person, that her parents just cannot believe the difference in her. And it's just, this is not a case that's just isolated.

John Bradshaw: Right.

Dr. Neil Nedley: We see this in every one of our programs.

John Bradshaw: Yeah, you could tell story after story, I'm sure.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: People's lives just turn around. And as we've listened, that's just a dramatic transformation in a life, multiple suicide attempts.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yes.

John Bradshaw: You would never...

Dr. Neil Nedley: Serious ones. Yeah, serious ones.

John Bradshaw: wouldn't give that person a chance. If that was your daughter-in-law or your brother-in-law, you'd be saying, "Yeah, Larry's in a bad way, and there's no one can help him". You'd just be limping along with Larry until the day of his demise.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Right.

John Bradshaw: But instead, phenomenal. OK. Now, what you're doing is, it's not, look, it's not smoke and mirrors. It's not creative accounting.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Right.

John Bradshaw: It's not storytelling.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Right.

John Bradshaw: These are transformed lives. Why is this not being picked up and pursued in a really big way? Why aren't facilities, governments of states and nations looking at this and saying, "This is sort of it; this is where we need to be"? Why not being adopted wholesale?

Dr. Neil Nedley: Well, it needs to be.

John Bradshaw: Sure it does.

Dr. Neil Nedley: It definitely needs to be. And we're doing our part to do that. We have now started a fellowship program for those who are board-certified physicians already to do a one-year training under me for depression and anxiety recovery, comprehensive depression and anxiety recovery. Our first fellow is graduating in July 31. We already have our next fellow accepted. And our goal is to start another residential facility every time a fellow is trained.

John Bradshaw: Nice.

Dr. Neil Nedley: And of course, once they get very well-established, they might be able to start some fellowship programs where they're at, and hopefully, you know, within, you know, 10 to 15 years, we'll see a dramatic change where you could go to a facility like this, maybe outside of every major city in America. That's our hope.

John Bradshaw: Sure. Yeah. Well, that would be fantastic, wouldn't it? I wanna ask you about the broader ministry of Weimar, but we don't have time to do this justice. So, we'll have another conversation at another time and cover that in some depth.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Sure.

John Bradshaw: As you look at what we're facing as a world, you see the sands shifting beneath our feet. It's not trending towards more positive mental health. It's rushing people in a devastating direction.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Exactly.

John Bradshaw: How do we respond to that? How can a person strengthen themselves, fortify themselves to not be taken in what's a very, very destructive direction spiritually, emotionally, mentally?

Dr. Neil Nedley: I think they have to be educated at an early age how their brain can be optimized and avoid all of this. And that's the next frontier that we're working on, is the K through 12 age group to have emotional health and emotional intelligence be part of a yearly curriculum.

John Bradshaw: Mmm.

Dr. Neil Nedley: They learn math every year. They learn English every year. They learn, you know, social studies. They don't learn anything about mental health or emotion, how to manage their emotions. And that's going to have more importance in their future success and happiness than any of those other subjects that they're learning. Fortunately, there's a public school system in the US territories of Guam and Micronesia who have asked me to develop that curriculum. We have a team of 10 now that have developed a whole curriculum for K through 12, and we're seeing tremendous before- and after-results. We also studied that with piloting, and that will help prevent a lot of mental health issues. We hope other public schools pick it up. If they do, they'll be glad that they did. The parents are thrilled, of these kids. The teachers are thrilled. The teachers are thrilled to be part of the teaching curriculum. It's actually changed their life for the better. We had one of the fifth grade teachers said, "Teaching this program, or this curriculum, has saved my own marriage".

John Bradshaw: Wow.

Dr. Neil Nedley: He didn't realize that his marriage was due to his own lack of emotional intelligence till he learned about it and having to teach it in the fifth grade level. So he said, "I'm not only going to teach this. I'm going to implement these things myself". And his marriage was enhanced and saved. And so that's the next frontier. If we can get it in the public and private school curriculum in a good scientific way but also a way that's going to be very attractive, the kids going through this, the teachers mentioned that this was the first subject they'd ever taught, some of them had taught for over 20 years, where the students said at the end, "This class is over with already"?

John Bradshaw: Wow.

Dr. Neil Nedley: You know, "What are we going to learn tomorrow"? They said even good math students never ask, "What are we going to learn tomorrow"? And so, they were able to be very interested in this subject. Emotional health is something of high interest for everybody today, no matter where you're at in your age group. And I think we need to expand that program, and hopefully it will be in every public school system in America. And if that happens, we will start seeing dramatic changes for shifting this tide of emotional health in the right direction.

John Bradshaw: We hope and pray that that day will come. It certainly desperately needed. Dr. Nedley, thank you. This has been a blessing, really appreciate your time.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Thank you, John. Great being here.

John Bradshaw: We appreciate your time, too. Thanks for being part of this. Much to learn, and if we could take this on board, oh, we'd see changes, wouldn't we, in our own lives and in the lives of others. He's Dr. Neil Nedley. I'm John Bradshaw. This has been our conversation, brought to you by It Is Written.
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