Dr. Shaw's Philosophy – NYC Integrative & Holistic Psychiatrist
Dana Shaw, MD, combines the fields of conventional psychotherapy, nutritional and functional psychiatry, utilizing aspects of applied neurobiology and brain biochemistry. Dr. Dana Shaw believes that all systems of the body, mind, and spirit are interconnected, and understanding the balance of the physical, environmental, mental, emotional, social and spiritual aspects are vital to mental health. Through the power of education, guidance, and targeted therapeutic interventions, Dr. Shaw strives to promote balance and self-healing with the end goal of achieving optimal wellbeing.
Dr. Shaw’s approach is guided by her background in traditional and holistic psychiatry, as well as scientific studies in the growing fields of epigenetics, nutrient-based psychiatry, and the gut-brain connection. In recent years, science has revealed that the primary physical factors that modify one’s genetics include environmental toxins (exposures to pesticides, toxic metals, radiation, chemicals), allergies, dietary choices, illness, and stressful or traumatic life events (abuse, divorce). Such insults may result in epigenetic changes in one’s genetic “blueprint” known as our DNA, leading to unwanted symptoms of anxiety, depression, low energy, irritability, poor focus or concentration, etc.
The good news is that many disorders previously thought of as genetic and untreatable, are actually epigenetic in nature and treatable using therapeutic dosages of nutrients that have a powerful affect on gene expression. Dr. Shaw utilizes Dr. William J. Walsh’s advanced nutrient therapy system – vitamins, minerals and amino acids – aimed at normalizing brain levels of key neurotransmitters and reducing free-radical oxidative stress. This system is currently used by hundreds of physicians around the world. Often times, this method leads to the reduction and sometimes the complete elimination of psychiatric medications.
"Root-Cause" Investigation Through The Lens of Modern Science
In the past, conventional psychiatry has acknowledged that hypothyroidism, syphilis, Vitamin B12 deficiency, and chronic illnesses may cause depressive symptoms. Thanks to the orthomolecular work of Abram Hoffer, MD, PhD, Carl Pfeiffer, MD, PhD, and William J. Walsh, PhD, FACN, our knowledge of brain biochemistry has progressively advanced. Persons with high irritability, anxiety, poor stress control, and rage, tend to have heightened sensitivity to light, sound, and textures, which is characteristic of pyrrole disorder or pyroluria - a metabolic disorder affected by zinc and Vitamin B6 deficiencies. Eating disorders, perfectionist tendencies, depressed mood, seasonal allergies, addictive and self-medicating behaviors are often indicative of undermethylation - too little methyl to produce enough serotonin activity in the brain. Excessive or elevated copper levels in the body tend to lower dopamine levels and increase norepinephrine in the brain. Imbalances in these important neurotransmitters have been associated with anxiety, postpartum depression, ADHD, violent behavior, paranoid schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Every individual is biochemically unique and therefore, a complete analysis is needed to evaluate the blood and brain levels of these chemicals.
Additionally, imbalances in gut bacteria can worsen or even cause anxiety, behavior disorders, hyperactivity, chronic fatigue, and immune function. Gut microorganisms are responsible for producing a large amount of neurotransmitters including serotonin and dopamine in the brain. Recent studies on gut-brain communication indicate that not only is the brain “aware” of gut microbes, but these bacteria can influence one’s perception of the world and behavior. A functional psychiatry approach to good gut-brain health is to assess one’s intestinal microbiota for healthy diversity, structural, metabolic and signaling functions. On the other side, stress-reduction and holistic psychological treatments can actually help prevent and treat gastrointestinal disorders.
Although a great deal of progress has been made in our understanding of the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the endocrine system over the past 10 years, many challenges still remain. This is why Dr. Shaw takes a concerted effort to listen to her clients and find new and better treatments for their endocrine conditions. Dr. Shaw utilizes a modern-day, comprehensive approach to identifying thyroid and adrenal imbalances - beyond the outdated, conventional medicine paradigm. A hormone-balancing supplement plan and a lifestyle plan to encourage and reinforce healthy habits is prescribed so that your endocrine system begins to heal and your life improves.
Integrative Psychiatry & The Whole-Person Approach
As an integrative psychiatrist, Dr. Shaw addresses the whole person and takes into consideration all aspects of the individual's life including their past and present experiences. Life events can frequently leave behind unresolved psycho-emotional conflicts that are recorded by the subconscious. Significantly traumatic circumstances - usually in late childhood or young adulthood may cause changes in the autonomic nervous system. This system is responsible for all the functions of the body that are not under your conscious control. Dr. Shaw addresses these subconscious conflicts by encouraging her patients to negotiate them successfully, replacing them with freeing beliefs, and disconnecting them from the body.
A variety of therapeutic techniques may be utilized including transformative psychotherapy, Nonviolent Communication (NVC), mental imagery exercises, as well as advanced health devices and technologies. These integrative therapies and techniques have the ability to re-train parts of the brain and body to create healthier thought patterns, reduce stress, and improve mental clarity leading to a better quality of life.