Episode 369 Michelle Brown Connection between Trauma, Biology, and Mental Health Transcript

This transcript is from episode 369 with guest Michelle Brown.

Scott DeLuzio: [00:00:00] Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast where we are focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community. Whether you’re a veteran, active duty, guard, reserve, or a family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio, and now let’s get on with the show.

Hey everybody. Welcome back to Drive On. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. And today my guest is Michelle Brown.

Michelle is a functional nutrition and lifestyle practitioner, a clinical

Herbalist and Mastery

Level Biology of Trauma Advanced Provider. Michelle’s expertise

extends globally where she addresses chronic health issues, including

anxiety, depression, and fatigue, through A trauma informed lens.

And today we’ll unravel the, the intricate connection between trauma, biology and mental health, uh, through, uh, Michelle’s approach [00:01:00] that, um, talks about the healing that, uh, addresses the root causes of some of these issues. So, uh, before we get into that, I want to welcome you to the show, Michelle, I’m really glad to have you here.

Michelle Brown: I’m glad to be here.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, absolutely. So, um, I guess let’s jump right in. Um, let’s talk about the, the trauma response, um, you know, what it is and, um, how does it impact our day to day mood and our energy levels and things along those lines,

Michelle Brown: Yeah. You know, I think it’s, this is a great question because a lot of people don’t really understand. Trauma, what trauma is, or that there is even a trauma response, and we think about a stress response, right? A lot of people talk about being stressed out, overwhelmed, but when we talk about trauma, there’s actually a response of our nervous system that is very different than the stress response.

That is our trauma response, and it’s also known [00:02:00] as the dorsal vagal freeze response, and Basically, what that means is when we’re stressed out to the point of overwhelm to going into a freeze response, the body is going through a very different physiological response than it does when we’re stressed, right?

We think of stress as that fight or flight response of the nervous system and that’s because we kick on our stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline and they help us to take action to You know, fight, or flee, or do whatever we need to do to move through that stressor. And yet, if we’re overwhelmed by a stressor, if it’s too much for us to handle, whether that is, you know, fighting off a bad guy, a bear, or it’s just having too many stressors piling up in our day to day life.

We can go into a shutdown state of our nervous system where we don’t have the energy to handle the things that come up in [00:03:00] life and again, it’s a very different response of the body and of the nervous system to the things that we’re experiencing and in the most extreme case, it truly is a freeze response, right, where someone, you know, if they’re, you know, You’ve ever been paralyzed by fear, um, you know, we use that deer in the headlights, right?

These are different terms we have in our, you know, collective society to describe overwhelm. And yet, um, we’ve been doing that without really understanding what overwhelm is. And What I like to point out is that, this isn’t just a kind of a one time situation that can happen to the body. Again, like, you know, we’re being chased by the bear, right?

But it can be because of day to day stressors and overwhelm where we just don’t have You know, a well resourced nervous system. I can talk more about what that means. But, and we just go into more of a chronic freeze pattern because the [00:04:00] trauma response can be chronic, right? We can have trauma trapped in the body and if we can’t move through that successfully and back into That parasympathetic state of the nervous system, which is the state we all want to be in, right?

We want to be in that state of, you know, we call it rest and digest, for instance. We want to be able to feel energetic and alert and able to do the things we want to do without feeling overwhelmed or stressed out by them. And so, really understanding what the trauma response is and how it’s actually impacting your body can be really profound for anyone who’s struggling with Uh, anxiety, fatigue, just feeling overwhelmed, you know, kind of feeling quote unquote stressed out all the time.

And then working with that nervous system response to shift that felt sense of safety in the body, um, again can be a really powerful way to address that trauma response. [00:05:00] for

Scott DeLuzio: or, uh, the, the deer in a headlights, uh, type of, uh, Um, you know, given that this show is kind of focused on, uh, you know, like the military community and veterans and things like that, my mind instantly jumped to the scene in, uh, Saving Private Ryan, um, the, the movie where, um, one of the soldiers, I’m, I’m drawing a blank on

the, the names, uh, but one of the soldiers, um, is.

Standing there as a, uh, German soldier is walking right towards him, uh, unarmed, uh, German soldier, uh, just got done killing one of his, his buddies and he just froze and he just let him walk right by and it was like

Michelle Brown: you

Scott DeLuzio: moment. It was like, what are

you doing? You could have gotten this guy like, um, you know, but, but that’s what you’re talking about is, is this traumatic, uh, you know, incident, um, kind of.

gives you that, that freeze, uh, almost, like it’s an [00:06:00] overwhelm to the, the system, um, and You really can’t do too much, uh, at that point, um, that you’re, you’re kind of aware of what’s going on, I, I would imagine, but you’re, you’re frozen almost like you,

like you can’t do anything, right?

Michelle Brown: Exactly. And I like the way you described that because it really is not a decision we’re making, right? So just like that soldier you described in the movie, you’re watching this play out and you’re thinking, why aren’t you doing anything? And he’s not, he’s not consciously deciding not to do anything.

He’s frozen. He’s in a state of his nervous system where he can’t move. Literally, in that situation, but for so many people, this can play out on, again, that chronic, uh, day to day freeze response where we just feel stuck in certain patterns that we feel like we can’t move forward, where we, um, we feel like stress just feels so overwhelming and it can feel really [00:07:00] frustrating, right?

We know, like, on an intellectual level that we want to be, You know, getting up off the couch and doing things, but for someone in a chronic freezer response, they might find themselves really struggling to move forward, uh, whether again, that looks like just getting off the couch and getting things done, or maybe just we’re going through the motions in life, but we’re not really fully engaged with our life.

And that can feel really frustrating, like what’s wrong with me. And understanding that it’s, it’s your nervous system response to stress that is playing out in those actions or that lack of action is really freeing because, you know, it’s not we’re just being lazy or we’re not disciplined enough or, or whatever these things we tell ourselves when we feel stuck, but that it’s actually a response that’s happening in the body at the nervous system level, at the biological level, that’s keeping us from doing the things we want to do.

Scott DeLuzio: You know, uh, as you’re talking, I think guy [00:08:00] mode kind of kicked in with me here because you’re, you’re telling me like, what’s, you know, all these, these things that are going on. And my initial thought is. Okay, how do we fix this? What is the solution to this? Um, and that’s, that’s where guy mode kicks in where I I’m, I’m now thinking, how do we just get to the solution of this problem?

And it’s a, it’s a complicated problem. And I understand it’s probably going to look different for each person, but kind of in general, are there, there’s some steps that people can start taking to get to the root of some of this and. Figure out what it is that’s holding them back, uh, that’s, that’s causing them to just be frozen or stay on the couch or, uh, you know, whatever the case may be.

Michelle Brown: Yeah, yeah, and I think that it’s natural, like it’s a good thing, like, we want to know, how do I fix this? What do I do to move past this? So, you know, when we’re stuck in that freeze response, it’s a really uncomfortable place to be. We, we know there’s more to life for us. We feel that sense of. Overwhelm, maybe anxiety that’s showing up in the [00:09:00] body.

You know, I tend to work with clients who have a lot of chronic health issues going on and, you know, fatigue, um, anxiety, depression, and that sense of being overwhelmed by that and not sure where to start can be really a big thing, right? And yet, there’s a lot we can do. To shift these patterns once we understand what’s happening in the body.

And when I say in the body, I’m talking about even, you know, at the cellular level. We’re just not making energy, right? And the trauma response is a very low energy state. So, If we think about, again, comparing that to the stress response, that sympathetic response of the nervous system, that’s a very high energy state, right?

All of these chemicals and neurotransmitters and hormones kick into action so we can take that action we need to, but We can’t maintain that high level of energy for long, right? Our body just runs out of energy and that’s where we go into [00:10:00] freeze. So what we need to do in order to move through a freeze response is to bring energy into our system, right?

We need to bring that energy back in and you’re right, it also takes time, right? This just is something that the body needs time to move through and so there is a level of just You know understanding that there’s going to be some time involved in this and we can’t really rush the process But as we give the body what it needs we’ll start to see things shift right and so I start by bringing energy into the system because That is where we’ll have more capacity.

I like to talk about the capacity of our nervous system which is basically how much stress can our body hold and handle and We can increase that capacity of the nervous system, right? Then we’re able to handle the things that come up in life and move forward. And so I start by looking at, um, certain biological things that can impact this [00:11:00] because we often address stress just kind of as a societal approach to trauma.

We address So, um, I’m going to talk a little bit about, um, how we’re going to balance this with, you know, like therapy and, um, kind of from that emotional or behavioral or kind of thought process part of it. And yet what I found is that if we just don’t have a well resourced nervous system at a biological level, like we’re going to feel too tired, too overwhelmed, too, um, fatigued in order to do the things we need to do to move forward.

So bringing energy in the system is really important because, uh, with trauma, you know, it changes the nervous system. It changes our body’s biology. And I think that this is a piece that’s really missing from understanding trauma and what’s happening when we’re experiencing trauma, whether it’s a So, um, I’m going to talk a little bit about what is a trauma event or, you know, chronic, kind of a chronic freeze response that people are [00:12:00] experiencing.

And so, you know, there’s some testing I do looking at nutrient deficiencies, um, mitochondrial support, what might be happening in the body that’s blocking energy. That can be inflammation, sometimes infections, toxins are part of that picture. Um, and it’s really. It’s actually fascinating how often these things are a part of a chronic trauma response.

Scott DeLuzio: You had mentioned a couple of times now, a well resourced nervous system. Um, and my, just my kind of layman understanding of, uh, of what you’re describing, um, is. Just basically feeding your, your nervous system with the energy that, that it needs. Um, and, uh, as you were talking, I, I, I’m big on analogies to help me understand things that I don’t understand.

So I, you know, as you’re talking, you’re [00:13:00] talking about how you get to that freeze point because you’ve just simply run out of energy. And I

immediately thought of a car just driving and it’s on empty and it just runs out of gas. It can’t go anywhere.

It, it, I mean, you might be able to push it, but it’s not going anywhere on its own until it gets more gas.

And then, um, you know, if you want it to be able to go further, well, maybe somehow if you can expand the gas tank and get more gas into the car, that to me is the analogy that I made. Is that kind of along the lines of what it is that you’re talking about with that?

Michelle Brown: Yeah, I think that makes sense. Uh, you know, I think the car analogy, I use a bucket analogy often for the nervous system. So really similar to the gas tank, right? Where, um, if We can expand that size of our bucket. We can hold more stress than, you know, we can handle the things that come up in our life more readily, um, and yet, um, that’s where we need to look at a couple of different pieces.

So what, what is impacting the size of that bucket? It can be the [00:14:00] capacity of our nervous system to make energy and it can be what’s, what’s, um, shrinking the size of our bucket, right? That’s the things I mentioned, uh, maybe toxins, maybe infections or inflammation. Um, it’s really fascinating, again, how these things often show up when we have a chronic trauma response.

There’s been a lot of research done on how uh, trauma changes the body and the biology of our nervous system. And for instance, um, you know, Dr. Vincent Felitti, if you’re familiar with his work looking at adverse childhood events And I’m going to be talking about trauma, the trauma response and chronic health issues, right?

We know from his research that uh, when someone has a higher ACE score, an adverse childhood event score, that they um, are more susceptible to chronic health issues, autoimmune conditions, for example. And that’s because trauma really changes. The body’s biology and [00:15:00] how we use energy. So we need to go back and shift that, like right, we can work on it from the other side and shift our biology so that we can move through that trauma response.

But yes, the car analogy I think makes a lot of sense.

Scott DeLuzio: And so another thing that you had mentioned, um, which. Was kind of a new concept to me. Um, it was that trauma, when I think of trauma, I think of like one big. Event like right now, like a car accident, you’re in a car accident.

Now that’s a traumatic event or, you know, something that happens in combat or, um, you know, things, things that are big, uh, immediately impactful, those are big traumatic experiences, but


also described it as, uh, something that kind of builds up over time,


And, and then as you were just talking about childhood experiences, right. You could, You could,

have had a traumatic childhood and that’s.[00:16:00]

Over the course of years, um, that,


various, maybe smaller traumatic events happened, uh, not as big as,

you know, being blown up in combat or something, but, you know, something

much smaller, but over the course of years and years and years,

that ends up building up into trauma that your, your body just, it needs to figure out what to do with all of that.

Stuff that it’s been accumulating. Right. And that’s, that was kind of a, I mean, on an intellectual level, I, like, I, I probably knew that. I just never thought of it that way. You know what I mean?

Michelle Brown: Absolutely, yeah, you know, I think that’s a common misconception about trauma. We think it’s an event, right, the car accident, the, uh, the combat that we might have faced, and yet trauma is not an event, right? Trauma is the experience of our body going through the event. And I think that’s really important to note because it can be very different [00:17:00] for everyone.

Two people can experience the same situation and react very differently to it. And you’re right, it also means that trauma can be accumulative, right? So sometimes trauma is, you know, not being heard and seen as children, right? I have a lot of clients I’ve worked with who grew up in homes where, you know, they were just neglected or ignored, and that’s actually more traumatic than actually Abuse as a child because, um, with abuse at least someone is recognizing that you’re a person, that you exist, and that you’re alive, and that’s a huge part of being human.

And if someone is growing up in a home where that’s not recognized, again, there’s a shift in the way our nervous system perceives that sense of safety, which is really what the nervous system is all about. It’s all about keeping us safe. And so we get into this place of feeling chronically unsafe in the body.

You know, we’re not able to relax, we’re not able to [00:18:00] feel that we’re in a safe place, and we’re always hyper vigilant at that point, right? And so, for someone who grew up in a home where they experienced trauma, maybe neglect, uh, they, they grew up with that. And it wasn’t an event, but it was a day to day experience of not feeling safe in their body.

And, you know, comparing that to someone who maybe went through, um, a car accident or combat and experienced a traumatic, you know, trauma around an event and yet came out of that feeling unsupported and in that state, stuck in a state of not feeling safe in their body.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And

Michelle Brown: so

Scott DeLuzio: through the same event and have completely different responses to it. And I would imagine that. You know, over the course of a lifetime, you know, up until that point of whatever that event happened to be, um, everybody kind of

maybe expands their bucket a little bit, um, but maybe at different, different [00:19:00] rates.

And so some people may go through an

experience with a much bigger bucket than somebody else. And they’re able to handle that situation way better. And that other person, uh, who couldn’t handle it very well, their, their bucket’s overflowing. Uh, during, during that event, uh, where somebody else, they’re maybe only halfway full, um, just as an example, right?

And so they have plenty of room left, uh, and they, they can still, uh, you know,

kind of compensate for, uh, whatever the, the stresses are. Um, And so

Michelle Brown: great crowd.

Scott DeLuzio: when you have a bucket that is accumulating this stuff, sometimes over the course of years, sometimes all at once, um, you know, it could be a slow drip, uh, going into this bucket, or it could be a

fire hose going into that bucket and filling up really quick.


Michelle Brown: It’s good. Yeah.

Scott DeLuzio: there has to be a way to remove some of what’s going into that bucket. And how, how do we kind of, first off. Know [00:20:00] where our bucket is, you know, how, how full is our bucket? Is it halfway full? Is it nearing the top? Is it, are we down towards the bottom? Um, and then, you know, are there things like nutrition or other, uh, things that we can do that, that can help that?

Or, or are there other things to, to help kind of remove some of that stuff out of that bucket?

Michelle Brown: Yeah, so great questions. When I think about, like, how do we know how full our bucket is, what I’m listening to with the clients I’m working with is what are they saying? And when I’m hearing things like I’m really overwhelmed. I don’t have energy, right? These are things I’m actually looking and listening for specific language around how they feel in their body, uh, to tell me the state of their nervous system.

And again, a lot of people think that they’re just chronically stressed when they’re in more of a chronic freeze pattern, right? They’re in that low energy state of the nervous system and it’s going to show up as overwhelm [00:21:00] there. You’re going to. Feel this in your body as well. So it’s a felt sense of safety in the body that is the parasympathetic response.

So when we say, I’m stressed or I’m overwhelmed, I want to know, where do you feel that in your body? You know, for example, when we feel anxious, we’re actually feeling, for a lot of people, there’s kind of pressure on the chest, right? I’m putting my hands, you know, on my chest and pressing down, right? It’s really uncomfortable.

And yet, many people, they disconnect from Their body when they’ve been through trauma and they really just aren’t feeling and experiencing what’s happening It can be really profound to start to connect to the body and what they’re actually feeling. Where are you feeling that when you say you’re stressed or anxious or overwhelmed?

What are you experiencing? For someone in the chronic freeze response, there’s often a heaviness, right? It just feels like moving through water to get up off that couch and go do [00:22:00] things. Their limbs feel heavy to move. That’s the kind of thing I’m looking for with someone to tell me that they’re in a chronic freeze pattern.

And so, you know, just kind of thinking about what language are you using or thoughts are you having or what are you experiencing in your body is going to tell us a lot about your nervous system and the size of that bucket, right, and how full your bucket is. And you know, if you feel good, if you have energy to get through your day, to take on the things that come up during your day and face challenges, you’re probably in the parasympathetic response.

And if you’re struggling with that, if you feel really anxious, you can’t settle down, you know, you could be in a more of a stress response, right? And it’s important to know As well that, you know, we’re, we’re moving between these different states of our nervous system, right? Um, we’re sitting here having a conversation and, you know, we’re both, uh, speaking to one another active and engaged in the [00:23:00] conversation.

And so in a good parasympathetic place to be. And yet, um, if my fire alarm in my hallway went off right now. Uh, right, my, my body would respond to that. I would probably jump up and run in there to turn it off. I’m thinking of that because it actually happened to me in a meeting once.

Scott DeLuzio: Okay.

Michelle Brown: um, And, yeah, I mean, they were making fun of me when I came back because, you know, my face, right, my eyes got wide, and I jumped up out of my chair, that was my sympathetic stress response kicking in, and yet, you know, I went and turned off the fire alarm, I think one of my kids was cooking something, and there was a little smoke from the stove, and, okay, everything was okay, right?

I could come back in to that parasympathetic response and get back into the conversation and move, so that’s me moving through, um, a stress response successfully. Now, if that had happened and I just, like, kind of freaked out and thought, Oh man, now I’m so stressed. I just need to go lay on the couch for two hours.

I can’t even get back into the conversation. That’s a chronic freeze pattern, right? So we [00:24:00] can see from behaviors, from the type of language we’re using, from what we’re experiencing in our body, what place our nervous system is

Scott DeLuzio: of it. Um, you know, like,

how, how quickly can you bounce back from those relatively small things? I mean, what you were describing with the fire alarm going off, uh, in the moment, um, Kind of a big deal because if your house is burning down, that’s, that’s a big deal, but because at first you didn’t know, is it just a little smoke from, you

know, the the, the stovetop or, um, was there a full on flame going up and engulfing your entire kitchen?

You know, those are two totally different, uh, totally different things. But at the time you didn’t really know. Um, so. You know, I think just a natural reaction that you’re going to jump to the worst case scenario. And that’s, that’s when your, your stress level goes way high, uh, [00:25:00] until you, you find out, okay, everything’s fine.

Everything’s good. And then you’re able to come back down. But if you were starting off and. Your, your bucket was near the top

and that fire alarm went off. You’re overflowing at that point, uh, because you’re, you’ve gone way too high. And then then now you got to figure out how do I, how do I come back down?

And, and sometimes, like you said, you might, you might need to lay down, you may not be able to engage back into a conversation, um, you know, things like that. And so that’s a good way to kind of judge your.

Quote unquote bucket, uh, if you will, um, you know, and how high that is. Like in your case, you were able to come right back into the conversation.

Michelle Brown: Bye!

Scott DeLuzio: a little bit el elevated at that point, right? Because it’s, you know, it was a stressful thing that you’re going through, but you know, it, it’s, it’s coming back down. Um, you know, but not. You weren’t overflowing at that point because you

were starting off at a, at a good place.

Um, [00:26:00] you know,

so, so that’s probably a good way to think of it and how to judge where you are.

Um, you know, and so, you know, think back over the last week or so for the listeners, you know, anytime there’s been something, uh, somewhat stressful, what was your response

and how were you able to, uh, deal with it?

Um, or, or did you just not deal with it because you were already

too stressed out and you couldn’t. Deal with that type of thing. So, uh, I think that’s a

good way to,

uh, think about that. Um, you had mentioned nutrient deficiencies

earlier. Um, And,

that was an interesting thing. It was kind of caught my attention.

I jotted a note down, um

because. I don’t typically think of nutrition when I’m thinking of, uh, you know, a stress response other than, you know, stress eating or something that’s typically not nutritious eating. It’s cookies and

you know, garbage like that. You know, it’s not, it’s not the type of eating that you’re probably looking for [00:27:00] here.

So when you

are observing people who are in

that stress Kind of state that, that sympathetic, um, uh, you know, state, um, what, what are you looking at as far as the nutrition goes and what, what imbalances they may have? And, um, uh, you know, how do you assess this and how do you, how do you, uh, kind of

Michelle Brown: Bye. Right. Yeah, you know, it’s so interesting. Again, our typical response to any kind of, uh, trauma pattern, stress, any kind of, you know, anyone who’s looking for mental health support, we’re often looking to mental health therapy, which definitely has its place. Um, or, you know, people go to the doctor, they’re put on an SSRI or other mood medications.

And yet, uh, there is a huge link between nutrients and our mental health. And So this is the area that I spend a lot of time working in my, with my clients because we can do some [00:28:00] basic testing, um, actually just start with giving my clients some assessments, right? I want to know different patterns that are showing up for them with their mood, their behavior.

And from those, I can start to put together, um, a picture of where they might be deficient in specific nutrients. So, things like zinc, things like vitamin B6, magnesium, these are really important nutrients for our mood. And When I assess a client, I can often tell if they’re potentially low. We do some basic lab testing and so often these clients are low in these nutrients or they might be high.

For example, I test copper as well, and if we have too much copper, that’s actually something that can cause a lot of anxiety, overwhelm, irritability, and so I’m looking at these nutrient deficiencies and imbalances because correcting these actually can have a huge impact on our mood, our stress [00:29:00] levels, our ability to handle the stress in our life and it can be really fascinating actually to look at and see how, you know, as we address these nutrient deficiencies and imbalances.

I can help someone get to a better place with just feeling more in their body and bringing that sense of safety and support for their nervous system.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And when I think about the nutrition side of it, I,

I think that, you know, like it’s obviously, you want to be in balance as far as the nutrition goes. Um, but it’s not like a light switch where now everything’s in balance, everything’s perfect and you know, everything’s going to be great. But I, I think based on what you were saying,

Michelle Brown: team

Scott DeLuzio: having that nutrition piece in check and you’re, you’re on

point there with, uh, you know, everything that you were saying, um, having all of that, uh,


You know, in, in balance, um, is going to help you deal [00:30:00] with the stress that either you already have or new stresses as they come into play. Right. Is that kind of what you’re, you’re saying?

Michelle Brown: Yeah, that is a big part of it. So with the nutrients I mentioned, for example, zinc, B6, magnesium, they, one reason they play a role in our mood and mental health is that, you know, our neurotransmitters are, these are co factors for the production of neurotransmitters, which. Um, I, I like to just think of as kind of our feel good chemicals in the brain, right?

And so if we’re low in things like, um, endorphins, for example, or serotonin. We’re gonna just feel stressed really easily. We’re gonna feel overwhelmed. We’re gonna notice maybe even things like chronic pain, headaches. Um, a lot of my clients I work with who have eating disorders are low in serotonin, for example, and so it’s another area like I like to Assess, and see if we’re deficient.

It’s really interesting, there’s um, kind of a certain constellation of symptoms around each of these [00:31:00] neurotransmitters that I assess, and so I can start to put together a picture with my clients just from, you know, a simple assessment I give them, where they might need some support. Amazingly, we can actually bring in some amino acid support and some other herbs, nutrients that can help to increase the levels of these feel good neurotransmitters and it can really shift some of these, um, even behaviors that we have.

That are connected to the stress and the, and the trauma response. So for example, I was working with a client and she was just feeling really overwhelmed. She was feeling really emotional and couldn’t seem to quite get motivated to get things done. We brought in some nutrients, some amino acid support, and you know, for her, it was a really big shift.

And she noticed that, you know, she just didn’t have that overwhelm of her emotions. And, um, she even mentioned how. You know, before she [00:32:00] had brought in those nutrients, she was kind of standing at her, you know, like her stove or dinner, making dinner and feeling like, you know, I just, I don’t care. I’m not motivated.

I don’t even want to cook anything. And then once we supported that, I was like, Oh, now I have this energy to do these things, to make dinner for my family and, um, to. Think about what I even want to eat, right? And so it really is amazing how as we support these neurotransmitters, we address some of the biochemical imbalances related to these nutrient deficiencies that again, it’s like enlarging the size of that bucket, right?

We just have more capacity for dealing with the things in our life. We don’t feel so overwhelmed by every little thing that comes up and unable to, you know, just kind of move through life successfully.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, that’s, that’s, uh, I think, uh, an important piece that gets missed is that nutrition, you even mentioned like, uh, certain herbs, uh, that, uh, play a role, uh, in that as well. [00:33:00] Um, you know, I, I think for. Folks

who are

Michelle Brown: have a great day.


Scott DeLuzio: feeling

the way you described, you know, just no energy, don’t really care, you know, just kind of blah, kind of existence.

You’re, you’re, you’re existing for the sake of existing maybe, um. You know, I, I think maybe first step I would think is

maybe just

checking on that, getting, getting a simple blood test and see, you know, what,

where are you at with,

you know, zinc and the other, uh, you know, uh,

nutrients that you mentioned.

And, um, you know, maybe there’s certain things that you can do to,

uh, just get those in, in. And

then maybe that other stuff starts to work its way back into a normal state. Um, you know, of course therapy and other things might be necessary too, depending on where you’re at. But if this is something that’s maybe a [00:34:00] relatively new thing for certain people, um, maybe it’s not to the point where their bucket is totally overflowing and they need.

You know, mops

and, you know, squeegees and all that kind of stuff to clean up their bucket. Um, you know, but they’re, they’re nearing the top and maybe they just need to, um, you know, bring that down a bit, maybe it’s just a little bit of a, uh, imbalance there. Um, you know, and there could be some. chemical, um, imbalances as well, right?

I would imagine kind of in the, in the brain and stuff. Um, would that be kind of related to some of the nutrients that you’re, uh, describing as well?

Michelle Brown: Yes, absolutely, so when, you know, I’m talking about those neurotransmitters like serotonin, and GABA. Endorphins or dopamine, for example, those are those chemicals in the brain that impact our mood. And so a lot of times the, uh, when someone is complaining of anxiety or depression, they go to their doctor, they’re put on these mood medications, and that’s what these medications are doing.

They’re altering [00:35:00] neurotransmitter function. And yet, what we know is that nutrients are playing a big role in how our body creates and utilizes these neurotransmitters. And so by working with the nutrition, we can actually support what’s, what’s needing support in the body so we can actually make Healthy levels of neurotransmitters and feel our best.

And, you know, in some cases, mood medications, um, you know, can have their place for someone who’s really struggling. And, you know, so there’s no, you know, shame in that if someone needs to use that, but those really aren’t meant to be long term, you know, use for a And they do have their drawbacks, right?

They have their side effects, including depleting nutrients. You know, I worked with a client yesterday who’s taking a mood medication that depletes melatonin, right? And she’s having trouble sleeping, and so that’s kind of the drawback with using medications and not addressing this root cause reason for low neurotransmitter function and the nutrient deficiencies that are often [00:36:00] behind it is that We’re kind of just masking symptoms in some cases and what I like to help clients do is really address what’s going on in their body with their biology so that their body can do what it needs to do naturally and taking away those Things that are getting in the way of their body, just, you know, making neurotransmitters and being healthy and being able to move through these different responses of our nervous system, um, with, you know, with an ability to do that without getting stuck in any one state.


Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And you you mentioned, you know, that the medications they, they do have their place and I agree, uh, they do. And, and.

They’re not really designed for long term and, you know, maybe in some

circumstances, they, they might need to be used long term, but, um,

but that’s not, um, you know, maybe the, the normal, uh, typical usage, uh, normal is not the right word, the typical usage or what it was designed for is, [00:37:00] is for more of a short term, uh, type of usage.

Um, and I, I think of it like kind of a, uh, a crutch, like if you were to

break your leg.

And you’re using the crutches. Well, you’re not going to be on your crutches for the rest of your life. You’re going to just be on crutches until your leg is healed and you can walk and run and do all the things that you need to do,

uh, with your leg.

And, you know, once when that, that cast comes off and

everything is, uh, you know, good to go there. Um, in, and so, uh, you know, utilizing that medication alongside

other things that you might be doing. So focusing on your nutrition or going to

therapy or things like that. Um, Sometimes the therapy is traumatic in and of itself, you know, re revisiting

Michelle Brown: and

Scott DeLuzio: different traumas or different things that have occurred in your life.

That’s adding more, stress, adding more, uh, trauma to

your bucket and that could cause it to overflow even more. And so sometimes that medication [00:38:00] can help, you know, lower that down just a bit so that that way you can go through the therapy and

get the benefits that the therapy has to offer without.

Going into that overflow mode where you just shut

down and you stop and, um, kind of like the car running out of gas, you’re not going anywhere. You’re not making any progress. Maybe you’re going through the motions of going to therapy, but it’s not making the progress that it should be making. So that’s, that’s kind of how I

think of the medication. Um, and I, I think you, you kind of described it, um, similarly like that, but that that’s. That’s where I see that come in.

But, um, an interesting point that you brought up is that some of these

medications can deplete the things that you need to help, you know, help with your, your, uh, stress response and dealing with some of these traumas. And so, yeah, I mean, that nutrition, uh, is a big part of it and they kind of have to work hand in hand, right?

Michelle Brown: Absolutely, you know, um, when I’m going to go back to [00:39:00] a moment, the therapy piece that you mentioned where people often go into therapy and yet they feel like they’re just reliving that trauma, right? And there’s a disconnect between. Being able to understand what’s happening in their nervous system and what they’re actually feeling and being able to bring in that sense of safety.

That’s where I bring in some somatic work where we start to work with the body and what we’re actually feeling so that we’re not just revisiting that trauma and without being able to know how to embody ourselves and to move through that safely. And yes, the nervous system piece of the biology piece is where a lot of people are missing it as well.

You know, this is my clients who Have been going to therapy and yet they say, you know, I’m doing this therapy. I’m doing all of these things Why can’t I just snap out of this? Right? And it’s because they’re often low in neurotransmitters. They’re low in these specific nutrients and You know when we address that it’s like that [00:40:00] capacity of the nervous system To then do the therapy work and to move through that process successfully can take place and in my biology of trauma Mastery level training.

I mentored many other professionals, including mental health therapists, and it was really profound to hear them talk about how they recognized that this was the missing piece in their work. That, you know, if a client was just stuck in Uh, a trauma state because of their nervous system biology, they just didn’t have those internal resources of healthy neurotransmitter levels, healthy nutrient levels, that it was often really difficult to make progress with therapy because they just weren’t at a place where their capacity could handle doing that work.

So, um, I think that’s really valuable to recognize. And even with your I really like that because, you know, the idea is the crutches help us to get back to, to that healing state, right? The [00:41:00] leg heals, we don’t have to need the crutches anymore, but, you know, if we just continue to use those crutches, our leg is going to get weaker and weaker, right?

It’s not going to actually heal adequately. And You know, with medications, again, I do recognize that sometimes they are valuable and needed, but they can also kind of take the place of doing this internal work that really needs to be done, um, with that nervous system biology, and so that the body can do what it needs to do naturally and heal, and then we’re just kind of stuck in this place of, you know, being on a crutch instead of really healing.

Scott DeLuzio: You mentioned, uh, somatic work. Uh, could you. Uh, describe what that is, explain kind of what that is for, for any of the listeners who maybe are not familiar with, with what that is.

Michelle Brown: Yeah, so somatic is just another word for the body, right? And so with somatic experiencing, it’s this idea that we can start to work with that felt sense [00:42:00] of safety in the body with certain tools that can really be helpful. And so, I’ll just give you a really quick example, if that’s okay. If we’re sitting here in our room, and you know, we’re having this conversation, it’s easy to get really into our heads and not even notice, you know, kind of what’s happening.

In our body and so if we just stop and notice and one thing that can be helpful is something called orienting and you’re probably, maybe this will be familiar from the military, right? You probably had to do a lot of this as you were just like, look around your environment, right? Am I safe? I’m, I’m looking to the left.

I’m looking to the right. I’m looking behind me and it’s a signal to my nervous system of safety, right? There’s, there’s no bear behind me. You’re going to jump out and get me and, you know, and as I do that, and then I noticed. so much for joining us today, and I hope you have a great [00:43:00] rest of your day. Not necessarily even stressful, but just really engaged in what I was doing.

I was holding a lot of tension in my legs, right? Just kind of tensing up and, you know, think about holding a, you know, making a fist and holding that for, you know, if I had been doing that the entire time we’ve been talking. By the time we were done, like my hand is going to be really tired, right? And these tension patterns, there’s that fatigue of the, of the trauma response, right?

We hold tension, we hold these different patterns in our system. But yet we can be so unaware of them. I had no idea I was holding that tension in my legs when I was in a meeting talking to people until I started doing this work and noticing what I was experiencing in my body. And so there’s a lot of tools that I bring in to help my clients start, uh, just coming back into their body, noticing the tension patterns, working with tools to, you know, release that tension.

And, [00:44:00] um, notice where their body is in space, right? I mentioned how with trauma, we often dissociate from the body. We, we stop feeling our body, literally in some cases, because of that discomfort. So we want to work with that, uh, really carefully. And, you know, as we kind of do that in, in layers, we can start to peel away that sense of overwhelm, anxiety, um, tension in the body and start to feel safe and, and start feeling what we’re feeling.


Scott DeLuzio: and you’re right, we do. Do that in the military quite often. Uh, that’s the head on a swivel is, is what most of the listeners are probably going to be familiar with is you’re, you’re always, you’re looking to your left, right?

You’re looking around, uh, you know, paying attention to your surroundings. Um, so that way the bear, if you will, uh, is not going to jump

out and get you. Right. But, um. You know, that’s, uh, that, that was, I think, a [00:45:00] good explanation, you know, it’s paying attention to the, the things around you, things, you know, going on inside of your body.

Um, and, uh, like you said, you didn’t even notice that you were carrying that tension in your legs. Um, someone else, it could be somewhere

else in their shoulders and their, their back or their, their neck or wherever it could be any, anywhere else, um, that they may be carrying this and they may not even realize it, uh, at the time,


Michelle Brown: I’ll

Scott DeLuzio: know, learning how to release that, um, enables you to not

be tensing up and, and using that energy for really no real purpose, right? Like you said, if you

were clenching your fist the entire time that we were talking, there’s You know, unless you’re ready to

punch somebody Right.

now, there’s really no reason for you to be doing that.

And you’re using a whole lot of energy to make that fist. Your, your hands are going to be tired afterwards. Um, and really for, for no reason. Um, but it’s using energy that [00:46:00] could be used for something else, maybe dealing with the fire alarm. That

just went off or something, you know, dealing with some, some other thing that might be going on, but you’re using it for really no purpose in a way it’s, it’s wasting that energy that

could be used to help with really anything else.

Right. Um, So for somebody who is listening to

this And

they’re like, okay, great,

now I feel even more overwhelmed because I don’t know where to


What is

one step that they can take today to work towards overcoming some of this anxiety or maybe even depression or other, uh, you know, symptoms that they may be, uh, experiencing from all of, uh, all of this?

Michelle Brown: Yeah, you know, if I were talking to someone who was like, where do I start? I would say, um, let’s start by looking at your neurotransmitters, because I found that by bringing in some support there, we [00:47:00] can really shift how someone is experiencing stress in their body. Sometimes very quickly, and so I have a free gift for your listeners, uh, an assessment where we can look at the neurotransmitters.

We look at serotonin, GABA, dopamine, endorphins. These are all of, um, not all of, but some of our, uh, feel good neurotransmitters in the body. And then in that guide, I actually show you how to assess which ones of these neurotransmitters might be low for you, and then how to bring in some really simple support, um, you know, we’ll talk about.

Um Just eating more protein, for example, right? We make our neurotransmitters from amino acids, which we get from the protein that we eat. And so, you know, there’s that diet, there’s that nutrient piece right there that I like to talk about. Um, but there are also specific neurotransmitters, or excuse me, amino acids, that correlate with the specific neurotransmitters that we can bring in support there.

So, for instance, [00:48:00] with serotonin, We make that from an amino acid called tryptophan, and we can eat more tryptophan, uh, rich foods, or we can even use that as a supplement. Sometimes tryptophan’s actually a little bit hard to get from the diet, so supplementing for someone who’s low can make a huge difference in how they’re feeling with their mood.

And, again, I know big words like neurotransmitters and serotonin and amino acids might feel a little overwhelming, but that guide really walks you through how to assess those things and how to bring in really simple support to shift your mood, sometimes really quickly. I want to thank all these panelists for

Scott DeLuzio: So that’s, that’s great. And so you’ll, you’ll have, you have that guide available and, and I’ll, I’ll make sure it’s available through the show notes for the listeners

who want to take a look at that because you’re right. Some of these,

these words and some of these concepts,

um, might be a little bit overwhelming.

And if you’re already dealing with that

overwhelm, uh, why [00:49:00] add? More on to that. Um, you don’t want to, uh, you know, add more than, than you can handle. So this takes that, that, uh, uh, that stress off your plate. Uh, it’s out of your bucket. Maybe there’s a better way to say it since we’ve been using that analogy, you know, so you don’t have that anymore.

It’s now, uh, incorporated in this guide. Um, are there,

um, uh, for the folks who maybe need some additional support and a little more help with, uh, you know, working through this, um, you know, maybe, maybe it’s something they’re

not. Quite ready to go through on their own or, uh, just looking for somebody to help guide them through it.

Um, is there a way that they can, uh, get in touch with you and find out more about what you do and, uh, and how you might be able to help them?

Michelle Brown: Yeah, absolutely. I’m, uh, would love to help support anyone who needs help with this. I’ve worked with clients around the world to address that trauma based, uh, nervous system biology and seeing how doing so can really shift some of these longstanding patterns of, you [00:50:00] know, anxiety, depression, other low mood symptoms.

So you can get a hold of me on my website. It’s Batanasea. com. I’ve given you my email address if you want to share that as well with your audience. But yeah, just reach out. I’m happy to talk about how I can help support you if that feels like a good next step. But otherwise, yeah, grab that free guide and just start there.

And I think you’ll see, you know, a good place you can bring in some support to really shift your mood quickly.

Scott DeLuzio: Awesome. And again, uh, that link will be in the show notes, uh, to your website and to the free guide. I’ll have that, uh, available as well. So anyone who’s looking for that, um, take a look there, um, and, and. You don’t have to

stress about trying to find it or remember it or jot down any of these things.

It’ll be there for you in the show notes. Just open it up on

whatever app you’re using to listen to the podcast or on the website, uh, and, and you should be able to find it there. Um,

where does, uh, where does humor play a role in, uh, [00:51:00] dealing with this? Does it, does humor, uh, kind of help lower the stress levels?

Uh, uh, in, in some way? Do, have you found.

Michelle Brown: Oh yes, absolutely, I think that kind of goes without saying, right, the laughter is so good for our nervous system, and so the more you can do of that, just yes, bring in some funny movies, laugh with your kids or your family, those are great things to do to support your nervous system.

Scott DeLuzio: That was my, uh, little attempt to segue into my next, uh, next little segment here. I like to end each episode with a little bit of humor. Um, I always find that, uh, in my, my case anyways, humor lifts my mood and, uh, you know, makes me feel a little bit happier. So you’re right. Like, you know, maybe it’s a funny movie or, you know, a comedian or whatever it is that.

That makes you laugh, makes you smile. Um, you know, that, that always, uh, you know, helps out a little bit. And so, uh, sometimes these episodes that I do, they’re, they’re a little dark, a little heavy topics [00:52:00] that, that we might be talking about. And, and so, you know, let’s, let’s try to, uh, you know, lighten the mood a little bit when, uh, we’re wrapping this up, kind of equated to having dessert at a restaurant, right?

You, you,

you want to leave, leave people with a good taste in their mouth, right?

Um, so, uh. I know it’s

not depression, anxiety, they’re, these are not, uh, you know, funny topics or whatever, but, but we can,

we can make light of things, uh, sometimes, and sometimes that helps, uh, with the, the mood as well, so, um, just

real quick, if

you don’t mind humoring me while I humor you,


or attempt to, anyways, um,


Michelle Brown: and

Scott DeLuzio: while I was out shopping for a bathroom scale, I, I found one that, Not only tracks weight, but also body fat, bone mass, water percentage, all those types of things.

And, um, I decided not to get that one. And I just decided to go for the low tech, uh, just the weight. And as I was [00:53:00] checking out, I told the person at the register, I didn’t need to be depressed in four ways. One is just fine.

Michelle Brown: Yes, definitely, that can be, the skill can be depressing, for sure, for some people. Some

Scott DeLuzio: be, but it gives you, uh, you know, goals to work towards as well. So,

um, hopefully, um, you know, if you do have one of these high tech models that tells you all these different metrics on your body, you’re using it for purposes of good, and you’re, you’re working towards improving yourself and bettering yourself.

But if you need some help with that, I’m sure. Nutrition, uh, would play a role in that quite a bit. So, um, I’m sure that’s, that’s probably something that, um, you know, you can benefit from, uh, by reaching out to you and, uh, and finding out more information about what it is that you do. So, um, again, Michelle, uh, I really do appreciate you coming on and sharing everything that you’ve shared with us.

Um, you know, a lot of this, uh, kind of open up my eyes to some of the things [00:54:00] that, that you do and that you see probably every day. Um, but.

Michelle Brown: another episode

Scott DeLuzio: that, some of that as well. And hopefully this helps lead them in the right direction and guides them to getting the support that they need.

So thank you.

Michelle Brown: Yeah, thank you again for having me, it’s been a pleasure.

Scott DeLuzio: Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to support the show, please check out Scott’s book, Surviving Son on Amazon. All of the sales from that book go directly back into this podcast and work to help veterans in need. You can also follow the Drive On Podcast on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and wherever you listen to podcasts.

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