Can A Psychiatrist Really Help Someone With Addiction?

Maybe yes, but not so much. Let me tell you why.

When someone realizes that he/she has an addiction problem,  he/she may start to look for the “why.” Often times, there are  underlying mental health issues at play, contributing to his/her  gravitation toward certain substances. Then a psychiatrist is a logical place to look for answers.

What would happen at a psychiatrist’s office? Psychiatrists are  trained to automatically catalog a person’s various symptoms into  a DSM categories, make a diagnosis, and treat with one of the  medications in his medication arsenal which he obtained during  his residency training and the self-motivated reading/learning after  that. What are these medications?

Antidepressants, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, anti-anxiety  medications, and psychostimulants. These are the major  categories that would cover 99% of psychiatric practices. That’s  how they are trained. That’s how I was trained. We are to quickly  diagnose, and treat. But wait, before treating, there’s one thing  psychiatrists do check, and that is the thyroid function. Somehow  thyroid has been granted this special status as if it’s the only  organ in the entire body that affects the brain. What about the rest  of the body? The adrenal gland, the ovaries and testes, the liver,  the digestive system, or the inflammation that may be raging  throughout the body? Or the lacking of nutrients that are crucial in  thousands of biochemical functions in the body? What about the  genetic makeup of a person? Can he even produce the right  chemicals or utilize certain nutrients? No, none of these are  checked.

I’m speaking as someone who practiced psychiatry dutifully just  the way I was trained. I saw hundreds of patients, spending more  time with them than most of my colleagues, because I wanted to  understand every aspect of my patients; yet, I did not have the  tools to accurately and comprehensively assess their biological  functions. I did pay attention to their life experiences,  psychological makeup, and lifestyle factors, but that was not  enough. I was not seeing the kind of results I wanted, and I was  not getting the kind of satisfaction from being a doctor that’s  making fundamental impact on someone’s life. I would give them  a medication, they may feel a little less depressed or anxious or

moody, but they are still achy, tired, obese, mentally foggy, not to  mention the various other problems such as chronic pain, uterine  fibroids, fibromyalgia, intestinal irregularities, erectile dysfunction,  muscle cramps and repeated infections. Are all these completely

separate issues? Are there no unifying underlying causes? That  question, is what’s NOT asked in current psychiatric training. So what will happen when a doctor does not look at what’s  happening in the rest of your body? You could be deficient in  certain micronutrients. For example, Folate, Vitamin B6,  Magnesium, Zinc, Carnitine, Serine, Glutamine, Choline and  antioxidant status could affect a person’s ADHD symptoms;  Carnitine, Chromium, Folate, Inositol, Choline, Serine, Copper,  Magnesium, Selenium, Zinc, Vitamin B6, B3, D and E could all  affect anxiety symptoms; Similarly, a lot of the above and biotin,  Vitamin B2 and B12 can affect a person’s depression symptoms.  We can go on along with same vein regarding fatigue and  insomnia. The bottom line is that our body is a complex universe,  intricately linked by thousands of enzymatic reactions all  happening at the same time, and they all require the assistance of various essential nutrients.

The bottom line is that our body is  a complex universe, intricately  linked by thousands of enzymatic  reactions all happening at the  same time, and they all require the assistance of various essential  nutrients. 

Unfortunately, in this day and age, it is rather challenging to obtain  adequate amounts of all these nutrients, if not impossible,  considering that none of us is eating like a scientist, picking the  right food in the right amount, day in and day out, especially since  our food sources have become depleted of nutrients due to the  depletion of our soil and the current food industry practices. A  good example is myself, who is keenly interested in nutrition,  exercises regularly, and eats healthier than just about everybody I  now, yet found out I am low on Vitamin B5, A, C, D, plus a few  trace minerals. I would have never known if I didn’t run the test.

And what about the hormones? The only hormone a psychiatrist  will check is a person’s TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), which  has a “normal range” that is way too broad, thus missing  numerous cases of of insufficient thyroid functioning. A more  accurate tests for thyroid function is free T3 and free T4 (although  most of the biological functions in the body is accomplished by  T3). And then there is the reverse T3 your body produces more of  under stress, and reverse T3 look so much like the real T3 that it  blocks the T3 receptors, without exerting any of the biological  effects of T3. Beyond that, there are various antibodies related to  thyroid gland, and they could affect thyroid functions as well. But  none of these are tested by a regular psychiatrist, only the TSH,  before the initiation of a psychotropic medication.

And we haven’t even talked about the adrenal gland, and the sex  hormones, and how all of them can have profound impact on our  energy level, mood, attention, memory, motivation and drive,  anxiety level, or our cognitive functioning. In addition, there are

intricate nutrient-hormone interactions, and micronutrients can  profoundly affect our hormonal health.

A lot of psychiatric symptoms could also be a result of heavy  metal toxicity or other toxins in our environment, but that is not  taken into account in a regular psychiatric practice either.

In this day and age, it is rather challenging to obtain adequate amounts of nutrients 

Also, we have live within ourselves 10 times the number of microorganisms compared to the number of our own cells, and  they have formed a symbiotic relationship through millenniums of  evolution, and their imbalance or disturbance can exert a  profound effect on our health. There has been increasing  evidence of the gut-brain connection, where scientist have proven  that microbes in ones gut can affect the myelination process in ones brain. Optimizing gut health is essential for brain health as  well.

The list of factors that can affect a person who suffers from addiction can go on.

So will one really find the answers at a typical psychiatrist’s office  trained in a typical U.S. psychiatry residency? I wish I could say yes.