Ep01: Understanding the Link Between Creativity and Depression | with Dr. Edison de Mello

Creativity and mental health issues go together like peanut butter and jelly…or do they? According to the”Mad Genius Paradox,” that may not be as true as we think.

In the inaugural episode of the Optimize Yourself podcast I dive deep into the connection between creativity and mental health with Dr. Edison de Mello, the founder of the Akasha Center for Integrative Medicine in Santa Monica, CA. Dr. D is one of the foremost experts in the country in integrative medicine and is literally one of the people who wrote the book on becoming board certified in this field. He is also the reason I’m still alive today, which you’ll learn more about more in this episode.

Being a self-proclaimed workaholic I’ve fought my share of depression and burnout for two decades now, and it was very important to me for Dr. de Mello to be my first guest because I’ve discovered how rampant mental health issues are in creative fields like mine, and more importantly how difficult it is for people to reach out and ask for help because of all the stigmas that come with depression and burnout.

If you’ve ever felt like you’re broken, weak, or that there’s something wrong with you, I ask you to please reconsider after listening to this conversation, because you are none of those things. Not only are you not broken or weak, if you work in a creative industry, what you are experiencing is not the exception, it’s most likely the rule. Dr. D. and I are going to help you understand what you are battling both emotionally and biologically, and more importantly, the steps you can take to get better for the long term.

Balancing yourself is a fundamental component of the Optimize Yourself program, and I hope this episode helps you find some balance in your own life.

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Here’s What You’ll Learn:

  • The complex relationship between creativity and mental health
  • How to become the most authentic version of yourself
  • Eliminating the stigma of depression
  • The life-saving work of Dr. Edison de Mello
  • The cyclical nature of depression and anxiety
  • Cultivating an awareness of your body’s stress language
  • The danger of placing identity within work
  • How you can take ownership of your wellness and rewrite your story
  • The interpersonal importance of bodily care
  • You can measure depression and anxiety no different than diabetes
  • Depression’s physiological influences
  • Fighting narratives of brokenness and weakness
  • How to have a productive relationship with your practitioner
  • Finding a doctor that gets to know you before he gets to know your symptoms
  • Circadian rhythms and hormonal optimization

Useful Resources Mentioned:

The Akasha Center For Integrative Medicine

Akasha Naturals Supplements Store

Why Supplements Are Worth the Investment (And the Ones You Can Trust)

Our Generous Sponsors:

This episode is made possible by Ergodriven, the makers of the Topo Mat, my #1 recommendation for anyone interested in moving more at their height-adjustable workstation. Listen, standing desks are only great if you’re standing well, otherwise you’re constantly fighting fatigue and chronic pain. Not like any other anti-fatigue mat, the Topo is scientifically proven to help you move more throughout the day which helps reduce discomfort and also increase your focus and productivity. And they’re really fun and a great conversation starter.

Guest Bio:




Edison de Mello, MD, PhD, is a board certified Integrative Physician by the American Board of Integrative Medicine and a licensed psychotherapist by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. He practiced psychotherapy for 13 years before entering medical training and now practices and teaches evidenced- based integrative medicine.

Dr. de Mello’s PhD dissertation, entitled “Gut Feelings – A Psychosocial Approach to Gastrointestinal Illness,” inspired his conception of a center where psychology would be combined and fully integrated with Western and Eastern medicines. The de Mello Institute was formed in 1996 with the goal of employing safe and complementary approaches to healthcare while also addressing a person’s emotional and spiritual health. Fully committed to these goals, Dr. de Mello entered residency in 1999 at the prestigious Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center Urban Family Residency program in New York City, including training at the Manhattan-based Center for Health and Healing. His training utilized a biopsychosocial model and offered innovative experiences in the integration of complementary medicine into the practice of Family Medicine. Upon completing his medical training, Dr. de Mello expanded the de Mello Institute and founded the Akasha Center for Integrative Medicine.

The Akasha Center on Facebook

The Akasha Center on Twitter

Show Credits:

This episode was edited by Curtis Fritsch, and the show notes were prepared and published by Jakin Rintelman. Special thanks to Krystle Penhall and Sarah Furie for helping to spread the love!

The original music in the opening and closing of the show is courtesy of Joe Trapanese (who is quite possibly one of the most talented composers on the face of the planet).

Note: I believe in 100% transparency, so please note that I receive a small commission if you purchase products from some of the links on this page (at no additional cost to you). Your support is what helps keep this program alive. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Zack Arnold (ACE) is an award-winning Hollywood film editor & producer (Cobra Kai, Empire, Burn Notice, Unsolved, Glee), a documentary director, father of 2, an American Ninja Warrior, and the creator of Optimize Yourself. He believes we all deserve to love what we do for a living...but not at the expense of our health, our relationships, or our sanity. He provides the education, motivation, and inspiration to help ambitious creative professionals DO better and BE better. “Doing” better means learning how to more effectively manage your time and creative energy so you can produce higher quality work in less time. “Being” better means doing all of the above while still prioritizing the most important people and passions in your life…all without burning out in the process. Click to download Zack’s “Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Creativity (And Avoiding Burnout).”