Courtney Snyder, MD
Prior to a 10 year sabbatical from psychiatry, I trained and sub-specialized in treating children with attachment related issues - many from international orphanages or foster care. When I returned to psychiatry, the focus of my work (and my own healing) was more physiologic - addressing areas such as nutrient imbalances, toxicity, inflammation, etc. That I was seeing good responses to such treatments, even for children with attachment issues, confirmed for me that these were the topics to write about and share. Inevitably, my work (and approaches to my own health and my daughter's health) has come full circle. I'm realizing that we can't fully understand topics like inflammation or mast cell activation, the autonomic nervous system, right and left brain hemisphere differences, or even methylation without putting them into the context of our first three years of life.
Courtney Snyder, MD
The proper functioning of the vagus is one of the most important determinants of physical and mental health, social communication, compassion and even creativity. If you have a psychiatric condition or a complex chronic illness (or your child does), understanding the vagus may help demystify what has likely been a confusing and demoralizing experience. In this post, I'll discuss the many roles of the vagus nerve, the many body systems it influences, and the many seemingly unrelated symptoms it can impact when it’s not working well. My hope is that the vagus will become as awe inspiring for you, as it has for me, and that you’ll want to help it help you.
There are many ways to improve vagal "tone" to access healing and wellbeing. Perhaps because they're fun and life affirming, they’re often not taken seriously. In my own journey, I spent years trying to dominate my biochemistry, improve my microbiome and avoid and remove toxins. This narrow attention held me (and my daughter) back. If this is where you’re at, then I write this for you.
I'm a conventionally trained child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist. My current approach to health is both holistic (pertaining to the whole person) and functional (addressing the root causes of illness). I write this blog to share what I've learned.