by Deb Tokarz

It’s liberating to talk about my struggles with mental illness. That is now that I’ve come out on the other side. There was a time I hid my anxiety and depression because I was embarrassed and didn’t understand my emotions. I took solace in reading about others on the ADAA website — knowing I was not alone. 

My symptoms came on suddenly after starting the birth control pill with estrogen. Falling into despair I didn’t know what hit me. I was scared and doctors at the time couldn’t explain why either. I saw a psychiatrist, but did not want antidepressants. Instead I engaged in exercise to raise my endorphins, which gave some relief from the depression but not the anxiety. 

I struggled with anxiety for years. When I gave birth to my first child my anxiety increased even more and I suffered postpartum depression. I tried to manage it with exercise again to avoid psychiatric drugs. My anxiety was more intense than the depression and developed into OCD behaviors, gradually driving me into adrenal fatigue with my second pregnancy five years later. The physical changes were draining and my emotional stress was so heightened I finally resorted to an antidepressant that seemed to aggravate my symptoms. Traditional medical and mental health doctors were unaware that I was estrogen dominant and my body becoming copper toxic as estrogen was retaining copper causing a build up. The excess copper with no where to go disrupted my neurotransmitters activity. I gave it my best fight but in the end I couldn’t go through with my second pregnancy. The trauma of the choice and the procedure added guilt and shame worsening my mental health symptoms and eventually I gave up my career as well. The following eight years involved enduring varying dosages of different antidepressants each with their own awful side effect. They did little to nothing for my depression, worsened my anxiety with a racing mind and panic attacks while at the same time I felt drained and numbed. My loved ones did not know how to help because I had always been a strong, professional working woman seemingly able to handle anything. As a barely functioning depressive person, I took matters into my own hands and went off of the antidepressants to feel again. 

I definitely got my feelings back. The only problem was they were angry, unhappy emotions surfacing from what I had been through. The love for my daughter helped me cope and keep fighting to be healthy. Then as I entered menopause with unbearable night sweats and took hormone replacement drugs with estrogen my depression became more intense. Not wanting to go back to the awful feeling on antidepressants I decided to try a new approach. I sought doctors who use a natural method of correcting imbalances in neurotransmitter activity with advanced nutrient therapy. This was the best decision of my life. These doctors uncovered that all my hormone related psychiatric symptoms were because my body did not detox copper properly. It took some time to get the excess copper out of my body and balance other depleted nutrients but I started to progressively get better and heal. I can happily say I no longer suffer fatigue, depression, nor OCD, have minimal anxiety and best of all no side effects. All along I had a treatable condition that doesn’t respond to psychiatric medication. Speaking out about what I went through is much easier now that I survived copper toxicity and have peace of mind.

Many years ago, I had a boss that nicknamed me “Smiley.” Thanks to advanced nutrient therapy normalizing my brain chemistry, eating a low copper diet and incorporating my own personal healing practices my life has been renewed and I can smile again. For me stopping the roller coaster trial and error of antidepressants and going a natural route was a good decision. The lesson from my journey that I share is that we all have a unique biochemistry and what is right for one may not be for another.

Wishing you Find Your Balance,

Deb Sheesley Tokarz


Wow...what a great story. Congratulations...
You are lucky that you don’t need anti depressants. Good for you!

I am very grateful to have found an alternative to antidepressants. I'm even more grateful to have found something that normalized my brain chemistry, helped me heal and best of all without side awful side effects.

I have tried multiple antidepressants with horrible side effects. Your story sounds too good to be true, but hopeful. What supplements did you use? What kind of doctor or professional helped you?

Thank you for your story I am copper toxic dealing with all of the horrible symptoms. Where did you get the supplements to detox copper?

I live in IL and I searched for doctors who treat using natural targeted methods. Then I read their profiles to make sure they were licensed medical doctors, read reviews from other patients and the key was to focus on doctors who treat the cause rather than the symptoms. There are organizations for natural "alternative" sometimes referred to as "integrative" doctors online that will provide a list of providers by location.

Hi Deb-

I just wanted to clarify - were any treatments recommended for high estrogen levels? Testing?

Also, did you ever have an IUD? I was reading up on Copper Toxicity and it was mentioned.

Thank you!!

The treatment I received targeted what was out of balance. There is a high correlation between estrogen dominance and elevated levels of copper. Equally important is that copper and zinc have an intimate relationship. When copper is high, zinc lowers which adds to the estrogen dominance. Getting things into balance was key along with eliminating environmental sources of estrogen. The testing is done through metabolic bloodwork.

I was fortunate to not have used a copper IUD which will make the condition worse. I currently belong to two Facebook groups of women who support each other's copper toxicity pain and suffering from copper IUD's.

More information is available at


How long did it take to get rid of the excess copper?
Did you experience copper detoxing symptoms. i have been detoxing for almost 3 months now and still not quite right. Palpitations and anxiety.

Thanks for your feed back.

Depending on the extent of accumulation and the body’s natural ability to detox the excess copper it can take 6 months to several years to correct a copper imbalance. For me, it took four years for my copper levels to normalize but I had a trauma to overcome and adrenal fatigue. In the first six months, I still felt anxiety and brain fog and then each month after that I continually felt better. The key is adhering to treatment, avoiding high copper foods, reducing stress because stress raises copper and work with a therapist to help with emotional healing.

In case you are not aware, vegetarian and vegan diets are high in copper which I also was for a long time and that can cause copper build-up. Then add in my adrenal weakness and/or burnout which also took longer to recover because adrenal restoration is a process in itself.

More information about copper toxicity is available at You are on a healing journey that takes time and commitment. Hang in there, it will be worth it.

Reading your story has given me some much needed peace and hope. I’ve been suffering from depression for many years. I also couldn’t get through my second pregnancy and the feelings of guilt and sadness are only worsening my mental state . Thank you so much for sharing you story. For letting me know that there is someone out there who had to go through the same thing I did and who knows exactly how devastating this experience can be, and yet, after some trial and error you found something that really worked for you. I sometimes feel I can never be happy again but reading about your experience fills me with hope. I too have a young daughter who means everything to me and is the reason I keep fighting every day.

Thank you, Camila, for the lovely note. I'm glad my story provided hope. That was my goal in sharing. You are not alone and although it takes time, healing is possible. I found a good cognitive therapist to be helpful for overcoming guilt and shame because they work on changing thoughts and behaviors like beating ourselves up. Talk therapy did not work for me as it was nothing more than rehashing. You might also benefit from the details of how I healed in my full story available at ❤️

Can I ask what birth control you were on that caused the copper toxicity? I'm asking because I'm on an oral contraceptive and have been dealing with anxiety and depression.

I was on a few different brands at different dosage levels and I also tried the ring. It really doesn't matter which birth control. The key is the amount of estrogen released as a by-product of the prescription and whether you are estrogen dominant. Thus, adding more fuel to the fire so to speak.

Interesting... I am a man, struggling for a low testosterone levels. In order to increase a low T, I was consuming several years a zinc supplements. I was thinking mine anxiety is ow T connected, but after a year on a hormonal T theraphy anx. was still there.

Well, one day I have tried a copper supplements and anxiety has suddenly gone.

Obviously in my case low copper was the case, while incresed zinc supplementation negatively influences copper levels.

All the best from Slovenia!

Could I ask what birth control was you taking? I didn’t develop my problems until after taking birth control for the first time.

That you so much for your story. The copper iud caused these symptoms in me plus some years ago and I was able to catch it before it ended my life. I can't fathom the women out there who are living with misdiagnosed health issues ( OCD , Anxiety, Depression, ect) and it is really that. Thank you for sharing!

I've listened to so many horror stories related to Copper IUD's and Birth Control Pills. I am lucky to have survived. It's my honor to tell my story because sharing is caring!

Hi! My name is Greta and first of all I think youre page is wonderful and inspiring. I am creating a podcast surrounding how society has made people with mental illness/(such as literally any mental health issue you can think of) feel. I am interviewing a variety of people who come from different backgrounds, careers, etc. who have different mental illnesses that they feel free to talk about such as anxiety, depression, eating disorder, suicide, self harm, etc. I also am interviewing higher up employees at Netflix and Facebook to understand their perspective of how social media and their jobs and contributions to it, has really hurt people or help people. I was wondering if this would be a project you would be interested in contributing to, with a phone interview?

Greta Nagy