From Farm to Pharma
Hey there, welcome to my blog — The Recipe for Happiness.
Behind the sensational headlines about psychiatry, medications and mental health, there is actually a lot of good news--and more importantly, helpful news. We understand more about the brain and mental disorders than ever before. While valid criticisms of psychiatry and individual psychiatrists exist, not enough of this good news is getting airtime.
How do I know about this good news? I see people get better. I’m a practicing clinical psychiatrist, meaning I’ve dedicated my professional work to seeing patients and trying to help them. For more than a decade since, I’ve seen patients for 20-50 hours a week. I take the notion of “practicing medicine” to heart and I’ll keep practicing until I get it right. I liked psychiatry in medical school because I actually got the time to talk with patients; I can build a thorough history and better decipher the roots of an illness, and thus, the way forward.
I grew up on an organic farm in rural Indiana and now I live and practice medicine as a psychiatrist in New York City. Each step along the way, I’ve had my eye on helping people feel healthier and happier – all the way from Farm to “Pharma.”
My roots in the farm, and the extensive research conducted for my book, The Happiness Diet, have shown me the power of food in brain health. I believe that the basic ingredients for happiness all start in food. Miss out on essential brain nutrients like omega-3 fats, vitamin B12, folate, vitamin D, or fascinating forms of vitamin E (tocotrienols), not to mention powerful medicinal molecules found in plants called phytonutrients, and your brain changes for the worse. Making the right choices at meal times will maximize your chances of staying both healthy and happy. I want you to understand the basics of what the brain needs to function and where to find it in real food – because it is all there if you know where to look. Much of that info is in my (ahem) Farmacy.
Along with my passion for great, healthy, locally farmed food, I believe in the power of psychotherapy and self-exploration as a means to being a healthier, more fulfilled person. Psychodynamics is a way of thinking about the mind as having unconscious motivations — why you are late to meetings with your boss or why your dating relationships have a pattern. Over and over, as a therapist I’ve seen this phenomenon. This ideology can be traced all the way back to Freud, and while the practice of psychotherapy has changed a lot since his time, anybody who listens for a living should tip their hats to the man with the cigar.
Honestly, I’m not sure how to blog about psychotherapy itself as it is a very private, personal, and intimate encounter. That’s one reason it works. Therapists want to hear about the things that no one else knows about you, that secret you’ve never told anyone. But what I’d like to cover are general psychodynamic tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the years: advice about relationships, how to be honest with yourself, how to find the right kind of help. Please ask questions if you have them. If I mention patients, they are disguised and most likely amalgams of people I’ve seen over the years.
While I love to heal folks with brain food and talking, I also prescribe medications. For a time, I ran an intensive program for patients with severe mental illnesses - schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and psychotic depression. Nearly everyone took several medications. We can’t judge a medication for each individual, but must evaluate how each unique brain is influenced by a medication. When I started training, I didn’t want to use medications…and then I saw them work. When you help a patient go from sobbing, suicidal, hopeless and sleepless to calm, collected, and happy on the medication you prescribed, it is a powerful experience as a physician.
I want to write about medications and some other alternative antidepressant supplements as there are many misinformed, polarizing opinions out there. Some people are “pro-meds” or “anti-meds,” but I‘m simply pro-getting-people-better. That is really my only agenda. To that end I’ve prescribed everything from Prozac to Puppies, Seroquel to Snowboarding…and a whole lot of fish and leafy greens. Every psychiatric medicine or supplement has risks and benefits and what I offer is simply my opinion. But it is an opinion that is formed on the frontlines of the mental health epidemic.. I’ll be writing about issues in the news with the hope of helping you sift though the noise. Just to note, I take no money from pharmaceutical companies, though a do get free samples for a few patients who can’t afford their meds. No drug company has ever flown me to Aruba.
It’s long by way of an introduction, but I hope you’ll come back after reading this. If there is something you want to hear more about, or specific questions you might have, please feel free to contact me. I’ll do my best to respond. As my disclaimer states, don’t think of this as treatment, just as my musings that I hope give you needed information and help you on your path.
Welcome again, and thanks,
P.S. I’ll be v-blogging over at YouTube, too. So you can subscribe there, or here (for more).
Here’s one of those videoblogs: