SARATOGA SPRINGS- The statistics: one in six American adults takes at least one psychiatric drug over the course of a year. Hundreds of millions of prescriptions for psychiatric medication are written annually.
Depression and anxiety disorders affect millions of Americans. To that point, Saratoga based psychiatrist Bick Wanck, MD, has authored “Mind Easing: 3-Layered Healing Plan for Anxiety and Depression” - a new book that introduces a holistic approach to mental health treatment. Wanck will lead a discussion about his book and the topic at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 6 at Northshire Bookstore Saratoga, 424 Broadway.
“It became clear to me when I was about 15 years old that helping to relieve suffering was a mission of mine. I wasn’t sure what that would look like, but I wanted to help people to get out of a bad situation, no matter what that bad situation may be,” says Wanck, who has practiced in Saratoga since 1986.
While at medical school he grew increasingly intrigued in the specifics of how the mind works. “It brings in issues of literature, philosophy, science, biology – everything. That captivated me. I decided psychiatry it would be, but I became disenchanted with medicine, because there didn’t seem to be an adequate focus on healing for my purposes,” Wanck says. “The primary issue in regard to getting well is healing. Healing happens naturally. I said: wow, why aren’t we studying that? Why aren’t we putting more emphasis on how healing works and assist that process, rather than jumping right into treating symptoms. I made trouble for myself talking about that a lot.”
Wanck grew frustrated over the lack of emphasis on healing. “I just got fed up. So, I graduated from medical school, got an old van, fixed it up and hit the road. Eventually I ended up in Peru, in the jungle. I was looking for answers about healing and it was the experience in the jungle with the shaman that put it together for me,” says Wanck, who grew up in a rural area of Pennsylvania and spent a lot of time in the wilderness as well as on reservations. His grandmother was an herbalist.
“Sometimes the psychiatric providers are so rushed that when someone walks into their office and looks upset, the first thing they think about is: ‘I wonder what I can prescribe for this person, so they’ll feel better?’” Wanck says. “When someone walks into the office of a healing person who takes more time that person sees someone upset walking into their office - and they’re not going to think, what can I prescribe for them; They’re going ask: I wonder what’s wrong? And then take some time to find which of the three essential causes of anxiety and depression might be happening here.”
Wanck describes the three essential causes as: excessive current stress, early adversity and trauma, and genetics. “Two things that mimic them are medical problems like low thyroid, or addiction problems that can look like anything,” he says. “People can have any one of them, or all three of them.”
“Mind Easing” explores, among other things, when medicine might help with anxiety and depression, and when it might hinder the healing process. The use of psychiatric medication, for example, comes in to play when the degree of suffering from anxiety or depression is so severe that it interferes with a person’s capacity to make use of healing methods such as diet, exercise and stress management.
“The subtitle is the three-layered healing plan for anxiety and depression. And I do show in the book how to apply the three-layered healing model to anything: dental, cancer, heart disease…I think it’s an approach that can be helpful and empower people to promote healing,” he says. “I only include the wellness approaches and therapy approaches that have some scientific merit, where there are outcome studies that show it works for a sufficient percentage of people.”
Wanck studied at Penn State and eventually relocated Princeton, New Jersey where he ran the addiction programs for a private hospital and helped start the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry.
“I suggest that everybody put together a package of wellness activities for themselves so either they don’t get anxious or depressed or sick in some physical way, or if they do that whatever they do with therapy, or western medicine will be more effective,” he says.
“The body and the mind constantly heal themselves. You cut yourself, it heals. If there’s some dirt in it: wash it out. It’ll need some help, but it will heal on its own. If it’s a bad enough cut, you might need a couple of stitches - that would be layer three - a medical intervention to assist the natural process of healing,” Wanck says. “It’s the same way with the mind: every day there are times when people feel empty, scared, sad. You might not even know why. But the mind adjusts, it copes. So, there’s a natural healing process that happens all the time. The goal of this three-layered healing plan is to assist that process, to empower the strength of healing.”
Northshire Bookstore Presents: Saturday, April 6 at 7 p.m. - Bick Wanck - Mind Easing: The Three-Layered Healing Plan for Anxiety and Depression. Author and psychiatrist Bick Wanck will share his book and his healing plan for the three essential causes of anxiety and depression. This book is intended as a guide for both mental health practitioners and for general readers. Bick Wanck is one of the founders of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry.
Northshire Bookstore Saratoga, is located at 424 Broadway. Also this month, the bookstore will present:
6 p.m. Monday, April 8 - Pulitzer Prize Finalist Luis Alberto Urrea – “The House of Broken Angels,” Pulitzer Prize-finalist Luis Alberto Urrea will share his riveting novel about the De La Cruzes, a family on the Mexican-American border, celebrating two of their most beloved relatives during a joyous and bittersweet weekend.
7 p.m. Friday, April 12 - Matt Lesniewsky in conversation – “The Freak.” Author and artist Matt Lesniewsky will celebrate the publication of his debut graphic novel. Lesniewsky will discuss the book and his art with Chris Martinez of the Evil Geek Podcast. The Freak tells the story of a man thought of as the world’s ugliest man.
Noon, Thursday, April 18 - Lunch at Hattie’s Restaurant with Juliette Fay – “City of Flickering Light.” A special lunch at Hattie’s with bestselling historical fiction author Juliette Fay. Her new novel transports us back to the Golden Age of Hollywood and the raucous Roaring Twenties, as three friends struggle to earn their places among the stars of the silent screen—perfect for fans of La La Land and Rules of Civility. Tickets required for this event.
For more information, call 518-682-4200 or 1-855-339-5990, or visit the Northshire Bookstore website at www.northshire.com.