Abnormalities in brain chemicals and their ratios are the primary mechanims of mental and emotional issues experienced in an individual. At Family Psychiatry, Counseling and Wellness we conduct neurotransmitter testing and analyze brain chemistry.
Brain chemical abnormalities can be caused by genetic or hereditary factors, stress, environment, trauma, medications, substance abuse or phase of life (e.g. menopause or aging). Regardless of the cause, the pattern of imbalance in the brain chemistry will determine the nature and severity of symptoms that individual will experience testing reveals exactly which brain chemicals are deficient or in excess.
Abnormalities in serotonin, GABA, dopamine, epinephrine, glutamate, histamine, and acetylcholine are primarily responsible for the manifestation of psychiatric symptoms. These chemical imbalances adversely affect our memory, attention, concentration, mood, appetite, alertness, sleep, energy levels, hunger, sex drive and many other aspects of our cognition, physical health, and emotional wellbeing
We check levels of cortisol, thyroid hormones, estrogen, testosterone, DHEA, and progesterone, as they may be abnormal in patients with emotional stress.
The stress hormone of the body is produced by adrenal glands. Fluctuations in cortisol levels can diminish our ability to deal with stress effectively, leading to poor stress tolerance, jitteriness, and anxiety. An individual with abnormal cortisol levels may feel "Wired and Tired," overwhelmed, fatigue, low energy, sugar cravings and general feeling of " burn out." Left untreated, it will lead to adrenal fatigue or exhaustion.
Hormone abnormalities can mimic symptoms of depression and anxiety as well as fatigue, weight gain, cold or heat intolerance, heart palpitations, hair loss and sleep disturbance.
These hormones most drastically change during puberty, pregnancy, post-partum, menopause and andropause. In addition, the use of oral contraceptives can affect these hormones, which can have a huge impact on the psychological state of an individual. Testing of sex hormone levels is an integral part of an assessment.
While under treatment, we also order detailed tests to monitor blood sugar, electrolytes, cholesterol, white cell count, hemoglobin, liver enzymes and kidney function to make sure you are not suffering from a serious medical condition and do not experience adverse side effects of medications.
In certain cases, especially when treating a patient with stimulants, we may order a heart EKG to ensure it is safe for the patient to use those stimulants.
Where appropriate, we also conduct nutritional deficiency testing and heavy metals toxicity testing.
If you are experiencing symptoms of mental or physical distress and would like to discuss your treatment options, schedule an appointment with one of our providers today by using our online form or by calling (805) 341-3416 during normal business hours.