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Cameron LaBar’s Journey with Mental Health
ColdPlungeCam x BLOKES Blog
When I was 9 years old, I was diagnosed with anxiety (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and
Tourette syndrome. A pursuit for helpful tools commenced early on, but it was mostly medications that I
tried over time to help alleviate the anxiety and tics. This was the starting point for my journey with
In 2020 I graduated with dual master’s degrees in business and finance and moved to Boise, Idaho for a
job with a large technology company. I began experiencing severe depression, which caught me
completely off guard. It was not what I had expected after such an exciting life transition and was unlike
anything I had experienced in the past.
As I began looking for any outlet to help me feel better, I discovered ice baths and deliberate cold
exposure. I began incorporating it into my regular routine. The cold provided a dopamine increase that
lasted for hours, and it was the only thing that could at least partially offset the mood swings,
hopelessness, and suicidal ideation. I sat in the Boise River three to four days a week, all winter long,
including New Years Day when temperatures plummeted to 5°F (-15°C) and the river temperature
dropped to 35°F (2°C).
As I started sharing my cold plunging and mental health journey on social media, I was shocked to see
my videos resonate at such scale. I quickly connected with Ice Barrel and their network of brands and
ambassadors. It was through this connection that I met Joshua Whalen, founder of Blokes and JOI
Wellness. When Joshua reached out and asked if I was interested in running a comprehensive 74-
biomarker blood panel, I said yes. Who wouldn’t?
What Blokes found was surprising – Low testosterone, low DHEA, thyroid dysfunction, and vitamin
deficiencies. These were all issues that I was unaware of. I was also grossly uneducated on the impact
hormone health has on mental health and mood. When I told my parents about the results they said,
“Cam – we’ve been supplementing low DHEA for 15 years. Didn’t we tell you?”
What started as a “sure, why not” turned into an intense root-cause analysis. What could be
contributing to my hormone deficiencies? I had a 1-hour consultation with the doctor to review my
results and create a course of action for addressing the issues. It was highly likely that improving my
hormone health would lead to better mood, less depression, and more manageable anxiety levels. This
is what I was searching for.
Meeting with Dr. Folkers was a pivotal moment – he helped me understand the panel results and what
lifestyle changes to start incorporating – things like getting morning and evening sunlight, reducing
processed and refined foods, and creating a sleep schedule. He also gave me a personalized supplement
plan to start getting my levels back into optimal range.
In addition to the lab panel, I shared with him that I was beginning to taper off SSRIs for the first time in
23 years (when 9-year-old Cameron was first diagnosed). This was a personal decision I made as I was
searching for anything to help alleviate the depression holding me down. After such a long time
medicated, I felt it was time to see who I was underneath. Dr. Folkers listened to my story and even
made recommendations for how to taper off the medication successfully.
It has been about 5 months since our meeting – and I’ve begun experiencing a wider range of emotions
(mostly happy ones, too). There are still tough days, but I have a much bigger arsenal of tools I can turn
to for support. Here are some major things I’m doing as I work on my hormone health and taper off the
Morning and evening sunlight
Eating more whole foods and less processed foods
Weekly therapy sessions
Cold exposure and ice baths
Breathwork and meditation
Supplementing common nutrient deficiencies like magnesium and vitamin D
These are the lifestyle pillars that have been critical to improving my mental health this year. I’m
incredibly grateful that I ran the blood panel with Blokes and checked under the hood. It is hard to
identify a root cause without seeing how your system is operating – and Blokes gave me the data I
needed to get back on the path to feeling normal.