The following depicts Keith Matthews’ story as told to Kimberly Lord Stewart. After trying traditional pharmaceutical treatments for anxiety and depression, Keith sought the help of a North Carolina–based naturopathic clinic. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Keith Matthews had a busy week ahead. He had facilitated an out-of-town business meeting with some influential people for his company. On the big day, Keith collided with a wall of anxiety and depression. He could barely pull himself out of bed. Steeling himself to push past the stress, Keith made it through the week. By the time he got home, however, Keith knew something had to change. His mood changes lingered, making life miserable. Keith took a leave of absence from work to focus on mental health.
Keith began treatment with traditional psychiatric medications from his physician but soon developed several side effects. Keith contacted his naturopathic doctor, Jack Weber, at the Carolina Clinic of Natural Medicine. Dr. Jack listened as Keith expressed his concerns with traditional psychiatric treatments and helped him form a plan of action to find relief. Dr. Jack explained how alternative therapies could complement certain psychiatric medicines and be safely used alongside traditional treatments.
Navigating his first course of prescription medications, Keith found it challenging to track dosing. The side effects were particularly problematic. As self-awareness and preservation kicked in, Keith realized his symptoms were worsening. “I’d never experienced this before, and I really got scared,” he says.
Dr. Jack shares a practice with his wife, Melissa Weber, DC, MSOM, LAc. When Keith returned to their office, they worked as a team to identify the underlying causes of his anxiety and depression. Drs. Jack and Melissa developed a personalized plan based on Keith’s diagnostic test results. Once his prescribing physician began to lower his medication doses, Dr. Jack introduced natural therapies along with elements of functional medicine and traditional Chinese medicine to help limit side effects and treat the root cause.
The starkly different approach to healing made a lasting impression on Keith. “Drs. Jack and Melissa looked at the root cause of everything happening,” he says. “They didn’t just try to cover up symptoms.”
Keith’s treatment regimen centered on nutrition counseling, exercise, botanical medicine, acupuncture, and dietary supplements to support his neurological system and optimize neurotransmitters such as serotonin. Within a week, Keith noticed an improvement. He discontinued his prescriptions over the coming weeks. Keith also received acupuncture, breathing techniques, light therapy, and exercises based on qigong and Tai Chi to complement his lifestyle changes.
Although Keith’s symptoms improved significantly, he still didn’t feel like his “old self.” He decided to try the Alpha-Stim, an innovative FDA–approved electrotherapy device effective in alleviating anxiety and moderately severe depressive symptoms. The tool dramatically changed Keith’s progress.
With a tiny microcurrent (just a millionth of an amp), the Alpha-Stim gently stimulates the brain to increase serotonin. The handheld device attaches to small clips worn on the ears. Most people can’t feel the microcurrent, but studies show electrotherapy can aid anxiety, mood normalization, and sleep. “This little device, with acupuncture, light therapy, botanical medicine, and dietary supplements, changed my whole life,” says Keith. “I was no longer stuck in my anxiety and depression. And I could move forward with what is important to me and who I want to be.”
This article was produced jointly by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians and the Institute for Natural Medicine as part of the Campaign for Natural Medicine, a public awareness effort to broaden understanding of naturopathic medicine and support access to naturopathic doctors.