Interview with Dr. Christina Bjorndal by Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen
Orthomolecular Medicine can be an effective treatment for mental and emotional health issues such as depression and anxiety – especially if they’re caused by hormonal or chemical imbalances in the body. This alternative healing therapy restores the optimum environment of the body by correcting imbalances or deficiencies in an individual’s biochemistry.
Here, naturopathic physician Dr. Christina Bjorndal describes what Orthomolecular Medicine is, how it can effectively treat depression and other emotional health issues, and the impact it can have on mental health and well-being.
What is Orthomolecular Medicine?
By treating the “root” cause of physical or emotional health issues, Orthomolecular Medicine stabilizes the underlying nutritional/biochemical imbalances in the body. Natural substances, such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, trace elements and fatty acids, are prescribed to restore optimal health and treat the hormonal or biochemical imbalances that can lead to depressed or anxious feelings.
“There are many levels to healing,” says Dr. Bjorndal. “Orthomolecular Medicine works on a physical level, like pharmaceuticals. It’s a great, natural alternative to standard drug therapy for conditions in the mental realm, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.”
Getting help for depressed or anxious feelings can involve trying different types of treatments for depression, both conventional and alternative. The more individuals know about the ways to manage depression, the easier it may be to find the right treatment.
How This Natural Therapy Helps Treat Depression
Orthomolecular Medicine doesn’t just effectively manage feelings of depression, sadness, or anxiety. It can help with a wide variety of mental and emotional health issues. “I’ve incorporated Orthomolecular Medicine to successfully treat the following mental health conditions: depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder types I and II, eating disorders and insomnia,” says Dr. Bjorndal. “For instance, I saw a 32-year-old male patient last summer who had suffered from depression for 15 years. After starting the Orthomolecular protocol, along with my counseling, his depression lifted within three months of treatment. He experienced his first ‘depression free’ Christmas in many years.”
Dr. Bjorndal explains that nutritional biochemistry is a significant scientific factor in mental health issues. With regard to depression, serotonin is the “feel good” neurotransmitter, made naturally in the body from tryptophan, which many antidepressants seek to increase. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that the human body can not manufacture itself; if individuals are deficient in that amino acid, they’ll also be deficient in serotonin.
“This is the basic science of how Orthomolecular Medicine can help with depression, and patients understand it,” says Dr. Bjorndal. “Many people are tired of the side effects of antidepressants or other medications, and want a natural alternative that deals with the root of their depression or anxiety. They are tired of taking a drug that masks the symptoms but does nothing to change their underlying mental and behavioral states.”
Orthomolecular Medicine Also Incorporates Therapy or Counseling
Since physical and emotional health issues such as depression, bipolar, and anxiety are often multifactorial (more than one root cause), it’s important to address the behavioral, mental, emotional and spiritual levels of healing. Dr. Bjorndal uses specific counseling techniques, such as Gestalt Psychotherapy, Compassion-Focused Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, to help people with mental or emotional health issues.
“This way,” she says, “optimal health is not only achievable, but maintained because people learn to change their underlying thought processes.” Effectively treating depressed or anxious feelings — or any emotional or mental health issues — can involve trial-and-error. For more information about managing anxious or sad feelings without taking antidepressants or other medications, read Natural Treatments for Depression.